The Cleveland Indians trade starting pitcher Len Barker to the Atlanta Braves for players to be named later and $150,000.
The eighth-year pro Barker was in his fifth season with the Indians after spending his first three years with the Texas Rangers. He was having a down year and arguably his worst full season in the Majors, posting an 8-13 record with a 5.11 ERA in 24 games. The season before, he was 15-11 with a 3.90 ERA and appeared in 33 games, while in the strike-shortened 1981 season he was an All-Star for the only time in his career and threw a perfect game. He was 19-12 in 36 starts in 1980.
The Indians will receive pitcher Rick Behenna on September 2. On October 21, the Braves will send outfielder Brett Butler and third baseman Brook Jacoby to the Indians to complete the transaction. Both of the latter players will make significant contributions during their Indians careers.
At the time of the trade, Joe Torre’s Braves were holding on for dear life to the top spot in the National League West, barely clinging to a half game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers. They had lost six games in the standings alone since August 13.
Barker was set to join a rotation consisting of rookie Craig McMurtry, NL All-Star Pascual Perez, 44-year-old Phil Niekro, and Ken Dayley, the former third overall pick of the 1980 draft who had come up midseason and worked some from the bullpen. Barker was needed to help the rotation after Rick Camp slowed in the second half and first-year Braves lefty Pete Falcone was inconsistent in split duty between the rotation and ‘pen.
Barker made six starts, going 1-3 with a 3.82 ERA. The Braves would lose their slight edge in the division by dropping their next six games and would lose the division to the Dodgers by three.