How will the Atlanta Braves deal with this infield clutter?

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 19: Johan Camargo
ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 19: Johan Camargo /

Braves have some clutter in the infield…what will they do?

As the trade deadline inches ever so closer, the Atlanta Braves sit 9.5 games back in the NL East and six games back for a Wild Card spot.

After reportedly losing out on Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs, many Braves fans are wondering what the next couple of weeks will bring for the Braves. But, before the Braves can begin to think about becoming buyers or sellers (or a combination of both), they must figure out what to do about the incoming clutter in the infield.

When the season began, the Braves did little to fuel the possible addition of a third baseman and settled for Adonis Garcia to man the hot corner. Through July 16, it seems like Garcia has been injured more than he’s played.  He’s currently on the 10-day DL after having ring finger surgery on June 7.

After bouts with injury, the Braves sifted through different lineups. Early in the season, it seemed as though depth would be a major issue throughout the season.

Well, not so fast my friend.

After Freddie Freeman went on the DL with a fractured wrist, the addition of first baseman Matt Adams, and later the position change to third base for Freeman, the dilemma seemed fixed. Freeman and Adams would man the corners while Brandon Phillips and Dansby Swanson would man second Base and shortstop respectively.  Right?!

But is this the best answer?

After a .146 (6-for-41) stretch for Swanson before the All-Star break, Braves manager Brian Snitker has given Johan Camargo more at bats. Camargo did not fail to take advantage of the extra playing time, hitting .400 (16-for-40) in 13 games before the break. The experiment was not a short one either, as Snitker placed Camargo as the starting shortstop in the first game after the break, leaving Swanson on the bench.  Camargo then played third base on Saturday.

Not only does the emergence of Camargo make decisions much more difficult, but the Braves could be getting super-utility man Sean Rodriguez back as early as Monday.

This is amazing news not only for the Braves depth, but for the fact that Rodriguez has made a full recovery after a scary car accident left him with a major shoulder injury. Rodriguez has played every position in the majors except for catcher and pitcher and will provide the Braves with another option and even more depth.

So, the question remains, how exactly do the Braves manage the clutter?

It seems simple to return to the aforementioned infield of Adams, Freeman, Phillips, and Swanson, but what about Camargo, Rodriguez, and even Ozzie Albies, one of the top prospects at 2B for the Braves? The simple answer: trade Brandon Phillips and/or Matt Adams.

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Phillips has provided a boost to the lineup after placing firmly in the two-hole for most of the season.  His combination of speed and power, and his veteran leadership has provided the Braves with all they could ask for and more.

But, the Phillips acquisition came for two reasons: Rodriguez’s injury and to bridge the gap until someone like Albies was ready. Albies looks more than ready to make his MLB debut, but the Braves have remained cautious with the 19-year-old.

Adams has also provided the Braves with a major boost. Seen as only a decent fill-in for the injured Freeman, Adams has hit for 13 home runs in his short time as a Brave, even forcing Freeman’s over to 3B so his bat could remain in the lineup.

While Freeman requested a move to the hot-corner, and he has looked good there, one has to wonder if his future is at the hot-corner. But, once again, Adams was signed for two reasons: Freeman’s injury and to provide a power bat in his absence.

Trading Phillips and Adams would need to net more than just a “dump-deal”. Both are above average starters and can truly help the Braves in a possible run towards the playoffs. But, if the Braves are smart (and we know that’s the case in recent moves made by Braves GM John Coppolella), they will listen and field offers for the two.

A contending team in need of a first or second baseman will more than likely be clamoring for one of the two. Moving one or both of these players could free positions up while getting big returns. It could also, though, spell the end of a playoff run this season for Atlanta.

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Coppolella is sure to deal, or no deal, to put the Braves in the best position. A deal for an ace soon could very well end rumors of Phillips or Adams being dealt, meaning the Braves are fighting for a surprising playoff spot.

One last thought…would the Braves get more if they trade Johan Camargo?  The — what seems to be — rising superstar could bring a hefty return to Atlanta if the Braves decide to trade him.  The 23-year-old could bring a nice package to Atlanta.