Despite the fact that they’re under .500, four games out of the NL East lead and eight games back for the second NL Wild Card spot, the Braves were very active at the trade deadline, and they kept adding right up to the buzzer on Friday. Atlanta’s final two moves were the addition of Pirates closer Richard Rodríguez and Royals outfielder/DH Jorge Soler:
#Braves Acquire RHP Richard Rodríguez: pic.twitter.com/Q1SSWNPiC5— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 30, 2021
#Braves Acquire OF Jorge Soler: pic.twitter.com/hObdvmZXcE— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 30, 2021
Rodríguez, 31, has been one of the best closers in the majors this season, posting a 2.82 ERA with a 0.84 WHIP and 14 saves in 37 appearances, and he’s under club control for two more seasons. With that said, he’s struggled in July, posting a 6.75 ERA and allowing a .281/.343/.500 opponent slash line over eight appearances, and he doesn’t necessarily have traditional closer stuff, as he’s averaging less than a strikeout per inning (33 in 38.1 frames).
Soler was the third corner outfielder the Braves acquired Friday and the fourth this month, following Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario, and Joc Pederson. Considering his defensive limitations, which have kept him primarily at the designated hitter position during his Royals tenure, it seems likely that he’ll be more of a pinch-hitting option than an everyday fixture in the lineup. Soler is hitting .192/.288/.370 this season, but he has a 1.006 OPS with seven homers in his last 15 games and looks to be rediscovering his form down the stretch. When he’s right at the plate, he’s one of the league’s most fearsome power hitters, and he proved that in 2019 when he led the American League with 48 homers.
Right-handers Bryse Wilson and Ricky DeVito went back to Pittsburgh in exchange for Rodríguez. Wilson, 23, was once considered one of the organization’s brightest young pitching prospects, but he’s posted a 5.45 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in 22 major league appearances spanning four seasons. DeVito, 22, has made just five starts for Low-A Rome this season due to an elbow injury, but he’s pitched well when healthy, posting a 2.66 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP in 20.1 innings.
The Braves dealt minor league right-hander Kasey Kalich to Kansas City in exchange for Soler. Kalich, a 2019 fourth-rounder, has been solid in 26 relief appearances for Rome this season, posting a 3.26 ERA with a 1.65 WHIP in 30.1 innings.