As we approach August 1, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
Atlanta Braves: 30-57, 5th in the NL East
We’re nearing the end of the Braves’ massive rebuilding effort, and have already seen the team trade away (get ready for it) Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, Craig Kimbrel, Melvin Upton Jr., Alex Wood, Chris Johnson, Andrelton Simmons, Cameron Maybin, Shelby Miller, Christian Bethancourt and many others in an effort to contend in 2017.
That rebuilding effort is showing its ugly side so far this season, as the club’s 30-57 record is currently the worst in baseball. Atlanta is less than a year away from opening its new ballpark but still has some chips to deal, creating an interesting scenario as the team begins to shift into restocking part of its rebuilding plan.
Atlanta has already been one of the busiest clubs in trade talks this season, and surely will continue to be after next week’s All-Star break.
What moves have they made so far?
Atlanta made five significant trades before July 1, running away with the title of the league’s most active early trader.
The Braves traded right-hander Jhoulys Chacin to the Braves for a left-hander Adam McCreery in early May before swinging a creative deal two weeks later that netted them a competitive balance pick in this year’s draft. They then sent reliever Jason Grilli to Toronto for right-hander Sean Ratcliffe to close out the month.
In June, shipped Kelly Johnson back to the Mets for right-hander Akeel Morris and dealt starter Bud Norris to the Dodgers for left-hander Philip Pfeifer and lefty Caleb Dirks. Atlanta worked aggressively to sell off lesser veterans on expiring contracts, and were impressively able to turn Chacin, Grilli, Johnson and Norris into prospects.
Though the Braves’ system is strong, two prospects they’ve already acquired this season have slipped into their top 30, according to MLB.com. Morris currently ranks 20th, while Dirks comes in at No. 30.
Are they buyers or sellers?
Though that may seem like a straightforward question, the answer is actually a bit complicated. While the Braves will surely continue to sell veterans to clubs looking for help down the stretch, I wouldn’t put it past the Braves to look to add some controllable talent at the major-league level.
With limited assets left to deal and a very strong stable of pitching prospects, it might be time for the Braves to start thinking about adding pieces who can immediately contribute at the major-league level.
Atlanta is expected to buy on the free-agent market this winter, but could jump-start that process by dealing some prospects for a controllable player before the deadline.
What moves could they make?
General manager John Coppolella has been clear that first baseman Freddie Freeman won’t be dealt, and has continually stated that right-hander Julio Teheran is in the same boat. Despite those public statements, many in the game believe that the All-Star righty could still be moved due to the weak starting pitching class available this summer.
The Red Sox have been in on Teheran and closer Arodys Vizcaino, who is more likely to be dealt and is drawing serious interest from many contenders. Boston’s deal for Brad Ziegler may take them out of the Vizcaino sweepstakes, though he has a strong amount of suitors.
Atlanta will likely be open for business on many veterans, with Jeff Francoeur, Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis, Erick Aybar, Gordon Beckham, A.J. Pierzynski, Tyler Flowers, Jim Johnson and even recent minor-league signee Lucas Harrell potentially being on the block.
On the buying side, the Braves have reportedly discussed controllable starting pitching with other clubs. Atlanta has the prospect pieces to acquire someone like Sonny Gray (Athletics) or Chris Archer (Rays), who are both under contract for a while.
Atlanta has also expressed public interest in Padres outfielder Wil Myers, who is known to be at least somewhat available in trade talks. San Diego and Atlanta are familiar trading partners, as San Diego acquired both Uptons and Kimbrel from Atlanta before the 2015 season.
Atlanta is a bit of a wild card at this year’s deadline, with Teheran being one of the best potentially available starters. Even if the Braves hold on to their All-Star and deal other veterans, they’ll be looking for ways to improve their roster with major-league ready talent.
The Braves could be a surprise buyer at the deadline and might just be the team that has enough trade chips to swing a deal for someone like Gray or Archer. If they’re not able to do so now, expect an aggressive buying spree over the winter.