There’s a rumor tonight that the Atlanta Braves are making a small trade. The upshot is that they are likely adding a stop-gap outfielder.
The tweet is a little cryptic, but the implication for the Atlanta Braves is fairly evident:
If this is so — and it is a very specific bit of information — then it’s exactly the kind of trade that would fit with a team (the White Sox) dealing someone who’s recently been designated for assignment.
In the entire month of July to date, there is exactly one name that fits such a description:
"07/07/21 Chicago White Sox designated CF Adam Eaton for assignment."
Don’t blow this out of proportion: this is clearly an “emergency” trade, and should not be confused with anything else Alex Anthopoulos might be working on (or not) toward the July 30 trade deadline. It is merely to fill a hole with an experienced major league-level outfielder.
What the Atlanta Braves will get in Eaton
Eaton, now 32, was a quality outfielder during his prior years with the White Sox (particularly 2014-2016). Almost immediately upon arrival in Washington — with a contract — he fell to repeated injuries and has managed above 100 games only once (2019) since then.
His hitting was actually maintained through most of that until 2020, when he hit .226 in a 41 game/176 PA short season. This year, even with the White Sox’ injury problems with others, he only played 58 games and had 219 PA’s.
Now, as players are returning from injury, he was squeezed out, and the team had designated him for assignment.
The Braves are then (likely) getting a corner outfielder who might hit better with more consistent AB’s, but it’s unclear just how he might be used.
Atlanta clearly needed a “big bat” before Acuna went down. Now they need two of them, and Eaton fulfills neither that need, nor the need for a longer-term (2022) outfield solution.
He should be at least on par with the current mix of Heredia, Arcia, and Almonte, but being a lefty-hitter at least will give Brian Snitker a bit more flexibility in his lineup.
The Braves might have been able to grab him ‘for free’ after clearing waivers, but obviously felt that he was the best available option in the short term. I expect they’ll give the White Sox a roughly $1 million or so for the privilege of jumping the line to claim him now (along with Neslony).
If Anthopoulos is now either unable or unwilling to make the trade deals to push his club toward a division title this season, then Eaton will at least provide a respectable option for Acuna’s spot for the next two months.
His contract contains a 2022 option (for $8.5 million), but that won’t be picked up.
Neslony, for his part, was selected in the 9th round of the 2016 draft by the Braves, and hasn’t risen above the AA level… he’s been at Mississippi since the 2018 season. He’s appeared in only 19 games this season, which suggests that his time with the Braves may have been limited anyway.
Tyler Neslony is nonetheless a member of the Birmingham Barons, the AA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. So that rumor was indeed true, though it appears nothing was really in motion involving Adam Eaton.
So this is likely the first response to the loss of Ronald Acuna. It won’t satisfy fans, but it’s a necessary move for now… and frankly, it’s not like Acuna could be “replaced” in any case.