So how bad are the Braves now… and what should be the plan?
You can’t replace four positions on the field with impact players at the trade deadline. It’s very difficult to even find one.
So here are the positions of obvious need, with ranks 25th or worse… not counting that bullpen number:
- Left field
- Center field
The bullpen part can be solved: relievers are obtainable in the Summer. We’ve discussed numerous possible options over the last couple of weeks.
Dansby Swanson, for his struggles this year, actually would be hard to replace. Travis d’Arnaud should be back at some point, and he’s clearly the best catching option available right now… getting impact catchers at this point in the year is almost impossible.
That leaves the outfield…
There are two possible paths that Atlanta could take here at the trade deadline:
- Recognize that there is true talent on the roster and attempt to honor it by going ‘all in’, both for now and the future
- Sell a few targeted assets to add value to the farm system that can be used this Winter to rebuild the club.
The trouble with option 1 is that targeted trade partners would need to cooperate with that plan. The trouble with option 2 is that the only assets worth really trading right now are Charlie Morton, Drew Smyly, and Travis d’Arnaud (who isn’t game-ready yet) and maybe a couple of relief pitchers.
The rest of the roster needs to be retained (yes, this assumes Freddie Freeman is a “keeper”) for future considerations.
So here’s a plan for the “All in” path…
- Pursue Mitch Haniger and reliever Paul Sewald from Seattle. They are flush with MLB-ready outfielders and need young pitching. Offer Bryse Wilson or Kyle Wright and Toukki Toussaint to start with.
- Pursue Joey Gallo and Ian Kennedy from Texas. They need everything, but let’s start negotiations with Drew Waters or William Contreras and one of Tucker Davidson, Kyle Muller, and Huascar Ynoa.
That might be an overpay in both cases, but if you’re going “All In” and want to ensure that you get the right pieces, then that’s necessary. You have to make sure that no other team gets these players… otherwise, you might be forced into the second (losing) path.
Every player proposed — except Kennedy — would be under team control through 2022, so this would be a deal for helping both now and next season. It would be somewhat painful to the farm system, but right now, those assets are mostly being used only for emergencies… and you have to give up something to get good players back.
The Braves are truly in a precarious position of their own making. Whether that’s due to the financial fallout from 2020 or injuries or performance or sticky stuff or just a bad combination of things isn’t entirely relevant: it’s still a mess. One way or another, something drastic has to be done. Doing nothing helps nothing.
It’s pretty clear that teams are waiting until just after the All-Star break before getting into “dealing mode”. Hopefully, the Braves are ready to get that going themselves.