Trade deadline week still has about 40 hours to go, but some of the expected inventory simply isn’t available this week.
Aside from a 12-5 laugher on Tuesday night, the Atlanta Braves have been struggling to score and struggling even more to get the “big hit” needed whenever the opportunities have presented themselves.
Scores of 1-2, 0-1, and even 4-3 litter the completed portion of this year’s schedule. Going back to the Padres series, Atlanta won 2-1, fell 2-3, and are trailing in the suspended game 4-5. The Phillies finale was a 2-1 loss.
While the flow of rumor information from the Braves Front Office is typically like a trickle in the desert, anyone can see that another bat is necessary:
But the trouble this week is that these bats are hard to come by. To wit:
STARLING MARTE. OPS of .859, and most of that comes via a .306 batting average. Could the Braves have landed him before Oakland did so today?
Nope… that window was closed up tight — and this also applied to old friend Adam Duvall, whom Atlanta apparently inquired about:
MITCH HANIGER. OPS of .828 with 25 homers for Seattle. What’s happened here? Seattle is indeed doing some buying and selling, but there is no sign that Haniger is going anywhere since there appears to be more “buying” going on.
NICK CASTELLANOS. Never mind the broken bone in his wrist, the Reds still think they have a shot at the Brewers, so they have been buying in the last couple of days.
JOEY GALLO. Wait, there’s an update here:
"Bob Nightengale on Twitter: “Finally official: The #Yankees announce they acquired OF Joey Gallo and LHP Joely Rodriguez from the #Rangers for 4 minor leaguers: RHP pitcher Glenn Otto and IFs Ezequiel Duran, Trevor Hauver and Josh Smith. The #Rangers are picking up all of the salary for Gallo and Rodriguez.” / Twitter"
This has all the earmarks of the Yankees deciding to go “All In” on Gallo. This was a big trade and would have been very difficult for Atlanta to match — let alone beat.
KETEL MARTE. .974 OPS. Now rehabbing from a hamstring injury, he’s expected to be back to the majors soon, but maybe not “trade deadline soon”.
In any case, it appears that the Diamondbacks could ask for a true King’s Ransom given the Gallo trade… and Marte is available on the cheap for a period of up to 3 more years of team control.
So Arizona is quite content to keep him around.
So Who is Left for the Atlanta Braves?
The sobering answer is “probably nobody”. But let’s do the due diligence:
- BYRON BUXTON. If there was anyone I would be willing to go all out for, then this is the guy since he can do a credible imitation of Acuna at the plate: he has one more full year of control, and the Twins tried/failed to get him extended in the past week.
Normally that would signal some sort of casting call to 29 teams to submit trade offers, but the Twins apparently want their cake and to eat it, too: their contract extension offer assumes more injury-filled seasons (though incentive-laden), but that fact isn’t lowering their price point to interested teams.
- BRIAN REYNOLDS. A .915 OPS for this kid who’s still making close to the major league minimum. Wow. Of course, the Pirates would rather build around him, and that’s not a terrible idea at all. He might be more expensive to trade for than Buxton.
- KRIS BRYANT. We’re supposed to be avoiding ‘rental’ players, but frankly, it’s getting down to the end of the list and we can’t find a big bat. Bryant’s been slumping lately, but still has an .867 OPS.
Our equivalent would be Shea Langeliers… and that’s likely not the only name we’d have to give up… for just two months of Bryant. You really wanna go there?
- KYLE SCHWARBER. .910 OPS after a torrid month. He’s essentially a rental, having a mutual option contract. He’s a defensive liability, but carries a threatening bat. But would the Nationals even have a reasonable deal here?
- TREA TURNER. .890 OPS. It might be worth trading for him simply to keep him from terrorizing Braves pitchers anymore. But if you think the Joey Gallo trade was significant, any deal to pry him from Washington would be even bigger.
I admit being a fan of trying to explore such a deal (like Gallo, he’s a year-and-a-half control guy) since he’s so annoyingly good. But good gracious… you’d almost certainly have to give up Dansby Swanson, either Waters or Pache, Muller or Toussaint, and maybe even Contreras or Langeliers… all of them.
There are precious few other names to consider, but they are either rooted in their current club (Trey Mancini), in the process of a decline (Whit Merrifield), or just not to the level of “impact player” (Robbie Grossman, et al). And don’t even start me on Trevor Story without looking hard at his road splits this year.
So… how do you wish to resolve the Braves bat situation? Oh, by the way, the decisions don’t get any easier in the coming off-season, either, as the list of available bats is… almost the same.
Last year, I criticized the Braves front office a lot for trade deadline inactivity. This year? Even the most active General Manager might come up short.