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Braves acquire Adam Duvall from Reds

Atlanta adds a slugger who has hit 30-plus homers for the last two seasons and has three years of club control remaining.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves have acquired outfielder Adam Duvall from the Reds for right-handed pitchers Lucas Sims and Matt Wisler and outfielder Preston Tucker, as the team announced late Monday night:

Duvall, 29, has slumped a bit in 2018, posting a .205/.286/.399 slash line with 15 homers. He’s developed a strong track record as a power hitter in recent seasons, though; granted, he was playing his home games in a great hitters’ park, but he hit 33 homers with a .498 slugging percentage in 2016, then 31 homers with a .480 slugging percentage in 2017. He was somewhat expendable in Cincinnati because of the Reds’ glut of outfielders; in addition to regular starters Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler, they have rookies Jesse Winker (who is out for the season following shoulder surgery) and Phillip Ervin.

Duvall has struggled to make consistent contact or get on base this year, but he power clearly is still there, and he’s a very good defender — he’s posted 14 defensive runs saved this year, a total that leads National League left fielders. He’s also valuable because of his controllability; this is his final pre-arbitration year, and then he’ll be arbitration-eligible for the next three seasons.

As Gabe Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweeted Monday night, the Braves will shift left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. to center against lefties and start Duvall in those situations. Incumbent starting center fielder Ender Inciarte, who has has posted a dreadful .516 OPS against lefties this year, will be part of a platoon going forward, though it’s very possible that the two-time Gold Glover will still factor in as a late-inning defensive replacement when he doesn’t start. Obviously, Duvall also gives manager Brian Snitker the ability to spell Acuna and All-Star right fielder Nick Markakis when necessary. And if the Braves decide not to re-sign Markakis after this season, they could move Acuna to right field in 2019 and make Duvall the regular starter in left.

Sims and Wisler were both former top prospects, though their respective stars have faded; Sims, a first-rounder in 2012, had posted a 7.84 ERA over six major-league relief appearances this season and struggled when given a chance in the rotation as a rookie last summer. Wisler, who was acquired from the Padres in the 2015 trade that sent Craig Kimbrel and the artist formerly known as B.J. Upton to San Diego, has a 5.40 ERA over seven appearances (three starts) with the Braves this season, and he’s repeatedly struggled when given big-league opportunities: he has a 5.74 career ERA and a 1.41 WHIP in 74 major-league appearances spread over four seasons.

While Atlanta’s pitching depth is so strong that Sims and Wisler probably were never going to earn significant roles, they should have decent opportunities in Cincinnati. The only Reds starter who has even been semi-effective this season has been Matt Harvey, and it’s very possible that he’ll be dealt before tomorrow’s deadline. The Reds may prefer to keep trying with the young pitchers they have a longer history with — namely Luis Castillo, Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle, and Rookie Davis whenever he comes back — but it’d make sense for them to give Sims and Wisler chances in the rotation over the final two months of this season.

Tucker, who was once a prized Astros prospect and was acquired by the Braves for a player to be named later last December, had been solid but unspectacular as a backup outfielder for most of this season. Over 127 major-league plate appearances, he had a .256/.307/.444 slash line with four homers. As the Braves cut down to four outfielders last week, they optioned Tucker to Triple-A Gwinnett while retaining Michael Reed as the primary backup behind Acuna, Inciarte, and Markakis. With Duvall gone and Winker out for the season, Tucker will likely factor into Cincinnati’s outfield mix for the rest of the season and have a chance to seize a backup role next year.