Atlanta Braves: the July trade that didn’t happen

The Atlanta Braves tried -- and failed -- to trade for Pirates outfielder Brian Reynolds at the July trade deadline. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Atlanta Braves tried -- and failed -- to trade for Pirates outfielder Brian Reynolds at the July trade deadline. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

On multiple occasions, Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos discussed his desire to add a “true” centerfielder to the roster.  Now we know one direction he headed.

It is evident by now that the Atlanta Braves have had concerns with the offensive production of Cristian Pache.  While he’s had flashes of brilliance — including key ABs in the 2020 playoffs — sustaining that for the longer term has been problematic.

Thus, with center field production ranking at or near 30th among the 30 major league clubs (that despite Ronald Acuna Jr.‘s occasional appearances there), center field became a position ofserious focus at the July trade deadline this Summer.

We do know that Kim Ng and her Miami Marlins were not willing to deal a top player like Starling Marte to Atlanta (though they did finally, grudgingly allow Adam Duvall to return).  So the Braves tried — in vain — to go elsewhere:

"OF Bryan Reynolds: In July, the Pirates rebuffed trade overtures about Reynolds from several clubs, including what a source described as “big-time offers” from the Brewers and Braves. He’s not going anywhere."

This comes to us via Rob Biertempfel of TheAthletic (subscription required).  The bigger article discussed the Pittsburgh Pirates and their future outlook, but that nugget indicates that Pittsburgh was determined to keep Reynolds to build around.

In truth, Reynolds may be overlooked a lot by fans… partly because of the team he plays for and partly because he’s burst onto the scene relatively suddenly.

A 2nd round pick of the Giants, Reynolds went to Pittsburgh as part of a trade that allowed San Francisco to acquire Andrew McCutchen in January 2018.  That deal didn’t work very well for the Giants.

Reynolds never hit worse than .302 in the minors and has continued that kind of hitting in the majors:  .314 and .293 in the two full-season campaigns he’s had (2019 and 2021) with the Pirates.

Fangraphs credits him with 5.0 fWAR; scores him at 5.5 bWAR.  Either way, that’s still in the Top 10 of the National League and a number exceeding that of all current Atlanta Braves (Freddie Freeman has a 4.4 bWAR).

It’s hard to guess just how tempted the Pirates might have been to give up Reynolds, but they did choose to deal Adam Frazier to San Diego.  He had a 2.9 bWAR (now 3.5 overall).

So Reynolds has been posting a lot of those numbers while being one of the few offensive threats on his club:  Ke’Bryan Hayes has been injured for much of the year and Jacob Stallings‘ 2.3 fWAR is centering mostly around his defensive prowess.

The Braves, of course, ultimately ended up with Richard Rodriguez, but it’s very interesting to consider how things might have changed had Reynolds also been acquired.

Unfortunately, it sounds like the Pirates might not be willing to even entertain a future offer… but that’s what you get when a star player isn’t even arbitration-eligible yet (that happens for the first time this Winter).

Next. "For better or worse...". dark

So Atlanta may still be shopping in the CF aisle next Winter… but not for Pirate merchandise.