He spent 21 years in a Braves uniform (20 on active roster) and accumulated 210 wins, 154 saves, a 3.26 ERA, and 78.2 fWAR. However, when it was time to make a decision to send Smoltz or Steve Searcy, it was about as decided as a coin flip. Today’s topic, Best Trades in History: John Smoltz.

On August 12, 1987, I turned 9 years old. Zane Smith was toeing the rubber that day and ended up throwing a complete game 2-1 victory against the Padres. Pretty good day for the Braves. Little did we know, that it was actually a great day for the Braves as a trade that would impact Braves baseball for the next 2 decades went down before first pitch.

Best Trades in Braves History, John Smoltz: A Defining Deal

The Detroit Tigers were in the thick of a pennant race, needed a pitcher to slot into a rotation that already boasted 3 above average starters, and they had eyes for only one guy: Doyle Alexander. As Doyle was having a solid, yet unspectacular year for the Braves, Detroit sent a low-ball offer to the Braves consisting of 4 guys to choose from. The Braves shot the initial offer down. Detroit countered with a choice between 2 pitching prospects: Steve Searcy or John Smoltz. However, a “discussion” between the Tigers GM and President went down and the President made an executive decision to pull Searcy from the discussion as he was closer to being Major League ready than Smoltz.

Doyle Alexander ended up being the best pitcher for Detroit down the stretch, going 9-0 with a 1.55 ERA. He started 11 games and the team went 11-o…remarkable. In this way, the trade feels like the Tigers version of the J.D. Drew/Adam Wainwright deal as the Tigers likely lose the division had they not traded Smoltz for Alexander, and the Braves likely lose their division streak without J.D.Drew.

John Smoltz, Hall of Famer, Cy Young Winner

We all know that John Smoltz was part of one of the bests starting pitching trios in baseball history. For 7 years, opposing teams didn’t stand a chance as 60% of games were started by future Hall of Famers. But, if you only got to pick 1, who represents the Braves the best during this era?

We recently discussed a topic that’s been floating around during the lockdown: Who is on the Braves Mount Rushmore? The 4 faces that have defined the franchise.

However, that leaves only 1 spot for Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine or John Smoltz. Sure, call it a cheat and put all 3 as weird little mini-heads beside the other 3 giants. Nah…that doesn’t work. It ruins the exercise. Who’s it going to be? Maddux? Yes, he’s the best pitcher, but spent 1/2 his career wearing other uniforms. So, it’s between Glavine and Smoltz. There’s one thing Smoltz has that gives him a leg up: He was the only Brave that was there for the beginning and end of the 14 straight division streak. Number 4 goes to Smoltzie.

What a trade!

What a career!

Thanks for reading on Best Trades in Braves History, John Smoltz. Check out our entire catalog of Best/Worst Trades in Braves History here.