10 For 10 For 10: The Third Overall Blockbuster

“With the third overall pick in the CBA Inaugural Draft, the Atlanta Swarm select:

Mike Quinn, Starter, ID #1018.

The Midwest Plainsmen are now on the clock.”

With that selection, Atlanta would start on a path which would see them stay in the Silver League for their entire history thus far. Despite a strong start – Atlanta finished 13th in the inaugural season, which would have seen them play in the promotion series against Oklahoma – Atlanta would never get out of the PL, for better or for worse. They finished second in 2023, but failed to promote in the season of Quinn, and finished fourth in 2024. Mike Quinn, at 35 years old, showed signs of decline for Atlanta in both 2025 and 2026, having a K/9 lower by two strikeouts a season, then disappeared into the darkness that is the minor leagues. Today, Quinn looks about ready to hang up the cleats. He’s suffered two torn labrums and now suffers with a torn flexor tendon. He’ll be out for nine more months at the least, and at 39 in the reserves level with Cincinnati, it would not be surprising to see him out of the league.

Later on that night…

“With the fourteenth overall pick in the CBA Inaugural Draft, the DC Eagles select:

Ben Perez, Starter, ID #142

The Indianapolis Hawks are now on the clock.”

We’ve already discussed the trade in full depth – you can find that here – but Perez was the hot commodity in the draft. Perez was 23 years old when he was drafted, Quinn was 33. Xavier Frade, the starter picked after Perez, was 34 years old. Perez was young and had plenty of years ahead of him of top-notch starting pitching and would help DC in the future after their tanking was finished.

Immediately the differences between the philosophies were apparent – Atlanta, running with the idea of a win now franchise, against the DC view of tank and hope for a good draft outcome. Taking the established vet against the young gun.

However, in one trade, the entire CBA world might have changed forever.

Mike Quinn started two games for Atlanta in the inaugural season, pitching 6 innings while giving up five runs with 10 strikeouts. Not good, but with a .500 BABIP, he just had bad luck. It was two starts, his season stats were bound to go down to an ace level indicative of where he was selected.

Two outs into his next start, however, the season was over. Diagnosis: Torn labrum. Recovery time: eight months.

Perez, meanwhile, finished the season with 5.3 WAR on a terrible DC team. He carried a 3.67 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and an ERA+ of 120. Perez, while not at the very top of the league, was a very viable long-term starting candidate. If he could pitch to a 5+ WAR season on a team that went 53-109, imagine what he would be able to do if he were on a contender.

Atlanta would have made a single deal thus far into the season – they swapped Ernie Reeder for Josh Saso for the remainder of the season (if you don’t recognize those names, don’t worry – they last played in 2025, where they totaled a combined 35 starts among the pair. However, in 2022, the pair combined for 14.6 WAR, with Reeder leading the league with 8.0). While Atlanta had no problems with offense, their pitching – specifically with the hole that Mike Quinn would have filled – finished 19th in runs given up. Needing that extra pitcher, and with DC out of the season already, Atlanta filed a bold trade that, had it gone through, could have changed the course of not just the franchises involved in the trade, but the entire league. The trade’s potential impacts would have gone much, much deeper than other deals because of the flexibility that both sides gained after the trade.

DC received a phone call from the Atlanta GM around the midpoint of July. The trade, which involved only three pieces, would have been the biggest blockbuster in the history of the league (and still would have been a huge trade in the history of the league today and forever).

Atlanta would gain the services of Ben Perez and (inaugural) second round pick Jon Wagner for three seasons.

DC would acquire Mike Quinn.

Mike Quinn’s two great seasons would have been in DC, alongside the rotation of Aaron Hannah and William Wille, while Atlanta would have an OBP machine and ace starter back for the next three seasons. For Atlanta’s record, Quinn’s time was up after the loans for Wagner and Perez were over – he showed decline in the season where they would have returned to DC. Atlanta likely makes it to the PL after surpassing Arizona, Carolina, and Oklahoma, as the difference was five games. The addition of Perez makes up five games from a reserves level starter, but the addition of Wagner – whose 108 OPS+ beats out both Chris Rudolph’s and Ethan Frenette’s OPS+ by 37 and 34, respectively, gives Atlanta the possible top five finish and two years to compete in the PL for the Tournament of Champions. DC, meanwhile gains the services of Mike Quinn and could use him for whatever push the team would have made in the two upcoming seasons.

Except there would have been no push. And that’s where the fun begins.

DC’s prospects would not all arrive until 2025, when Francisco Ramirez and Dave Torres would be called up. While there was a mini push in 2023 – at one point DC was five games back of promotion and, seeing how a year in the SL and a subsequent demotion would work in DC’s favor in terms of draft picks and prospect timeline, the push never came to fruition. They finished 13 games back of third place at 56-70. Would Quinn have gotten them to the promotion series? The answer is probably, and with the 1-2 punch of Mike Quinn and Aaron Hannah, DC likely gets promoted a year after being the fourth worst team in the entire league.

This is assuming, of course, that Mike Quinn was still in DC at the time. And there is no way of proving that.

Digging up trade history, DC did what any tanking team in a seller’s market would have done, and that was to go on a full-blown fire sale. No player was safe from being dealt, and all in all, six players would be dealt from the roster to another team. Among those deals, however, was a puzzler – they acquired Tony Juarez from San Diego, a then 29-year-old starter/reliever. It didn’t fit in with the narrative that DC was trying to portray, being a team that was tanking buying a reliever. However, in the upcoming draft that April, Juarez was dealt to Arizona (where he still remains today) for, in essence, a first and two second round picks.

What does this teach us about DC? They knew that they could flip players – but it would be extremely hard to find a buyer. Teams that flip players take a huge risk by dealing with the potential backfire of not finding a trade partner, thus being the reason why they got the player. However, with Quinn, that wouldn’t be the case – there would be a trade partner somewhere for the services of the third overall pick. Arizona was on their way to assembling the monster bullpen that would play a huge role in their success, with Juarez being a key piece to the puzzle. Quinn, on the other hand, had the potential to be the piece that a team needed.

This brings us to a long list of potential trade partners which could have inquired about Quinn. You could immediately list all the PL teams, along with the top half of the SL (Atlanta, Carolina, Oklahoma, Mexico City, Cincinnati, Denver). Even throw in a few BL teams like Brooklyn, Boston, or Iowa. You’re looking at two thirds of the league being potentially interested in Quinn. While Atlanta is enjoying their success from the additions of Perez and Wagner, DC is enjoying the large market on the hottest commodity – a fully healthy Mike Quinn, ready to be dealt. The potential for blockbusters is huge, and the bidding war would have been insane.

Let’s say, though, that DC doesn’t find another offer they like within the 2023 season. No issue – they keep Quinn, ride him through the playoffs, get promoted, and deal him before the 2024 season. The team tanks, they gain a top 5 pick in the 2025 draft (which then could have resulted in a Chris Anderson, Bobby Simpson, Ramon Millan, Warren Easter, or dealt for more picks). They gain the assets from the Quinn trade and use them to foster even more prospects. The team that acquires Quinn instantly gets a top level two seasons out of Quinn and rides him to promotion or a TOC berth.

Atlanta gets very good. DC gets the haul they want, and with the prospects coming up, gets a giant number of top 100 prospects that they ride to an even better position than where they are now.

While the potential trade was called off, the extra scenarios that come after the trade don’t happen. While Atlanta’s outlook stays much the same, DC’s outlook changes. Ben Perez likely never has Tommy John surgery, and likely never gets traded to Mexico City for Orlando Burgueno. Mexico City takes Burgueno and uses him to supplant a push to the PL with Ryan Wright, Josh Johnson, and Andy Popour in the middle of the lineup.

In the end, the trade likely would have been a win-win for both sides of the deal. However, the decision was probably in the best interests of both teams. DC doesn’t get overly anxious about winning, and Atlanta doesn’t go all in with a ballclub that may or may not have performed to their standard.


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