6 bullpen arms the Atlanta Braves need to target at the trade deadline

The Atlanta Braves need to add some bullpen help at the trade deadline. They have plenty of options.

Jun 11, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Chris Stratton (30)
Jun 11, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Chris Stratton (30) / Zach Dalin-USA TODAY Sports
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The Atlanta Braves are in a great place heading into the trade deadline in 2023...at least for the most part. They have arguably the best lineup in all of baseball with no real holes to fill there. The starting rotation could be upgraded on paper but with Max Fried and Kyle Wright on the road to recovery, that isn't a huge deadline need.

However, one area that they could use some reinforcements in is the bullpen. Overall, the Braves' relief unit has been very good this season as they have accumulated the second-highest fWAR (4.1) in all of baseball in 2023. However, Atlanta has had some injuries to Jesse Chavez, Nick Anderson, and AJ Minter that have really tested the Braves' depth there.

Fortunately, the trade market this year is loaded with interesting relievers and we all know that general manager Alex Anthopoulos is always willing to trade for relief help at the deadline. He has done so basically every year he has been with the Braves and this looks like another prime opportunity for him to beef up the big league roster for the second half.

Here are the bullpen arms the Braves need to target at the trade deadline

Generally speaking, the Braves have been willing to make trade deadline deals for rental relievers or for guys that have a little bit of team control attached. As a result, those are the types of guys that we are going to focus on here. It isn't outside the realm of possibility that they make a move for a guy with a lot of team control, though, so we are including one name that fits that bill as well.

Lets get into the bullpen arms the Braves should look to add at the 2023 MLB trade deadline.

Kenyan Middleton

Lets start with a pair of White Sox relievers since they are going to be fresh on everyone's minds. Keynan Middleton is one of the top tier rental reliever targets that is likely to be available at the trade deadline. He has seen his strikeout rate spike this season and the rest of his Statcast profile looks really good other than his walk rate which is below average.

The biggest issue with acquiring Middleton at the deadline for the Braves is likely to be demand. Most, if not all, contenders are going to be looking to upgrade their bullpens for the stretch run and that could make Middleton a bit pricey for a rental. However, assuming things don't get too crazy on the market, Middleton should be high on the Braves' wish list.

Kendall Graveman

The other Chicago reliever the Braves should keep an eye on is Kendall Graveman. Graveman's peripherals aren't quite as good as Middleton's, but he is generally good at limiting hard contact and he sports a 3.07 ERA in 42 appearances this season. He also has the added bonus of being under contract through the 2024 season.

Acquiring Graveman may be a little trickier. One, he is making $8 million a year through 2024 which could be less than desirable from a payroll perspective. Second, that extra year of team control is going to make him cost more in prospects and there is a chance that the Braves simply don't value him highly enough to make that move. There is also a chance that the White Sox think that they can compete next year (they probably could given how bad the AL Central is) and may prefer to hang on to Graveman for that push.

Brent Suter

It isn't too often that we look to the Rockies for pitching help, but Brent Suter has been quite good for them in 2023. He currently sports a 2.81 ERA in 31 appearances for the Rockies this season and that is coming off a pretty successful run with the Brewers the previous few years. He doesn't miss a lot of bats, but he is elite at generating soft contact which has proven to be very useful playing at Coors Field.

Other than not missing a ton of bats, the biggest issue with acquiring Suter at the deadline is that he is currently on the shelf with an oblique injury. Obliques are pretty notorious for being fickle when it comes to healing, but it does sound like he is about to start a rehab assignment. This could be a chance to buy a little low on rental reliever who isn't making a ton of money that could be a nice lefty pickup for the bullpen in the second half. There would be some risk given that he is dinged up, though.

Chris Stratton

The Cardinals' collapse in 2023 has been well documented and frankly, it has been great considering all of the devil magic they utilized over the years. It took them a while, but it does seem like they have finally realized that they need to sell at the deadline. One player that they absolutely should move at the deadline that the Braves should check in on is Chris Stratton.

While his 4.05 ERA this year isn't great, Stratton strikes out better than a batter an inning and does a pretty good job of limiting walks as well. He also has elite spin rates on both his fastball and curveball which could be something that the Braves could see and think they could get even more performance out of him. It certainly doesn't hurt that Stratton is a pending free agent that is only making $2.8 million this season. Assuming the Cardinals are reasonable with their asking prices, this is a bullpen arm the Braves should target.

Jason Foley

Relievers with a lot of team control generally don't get moved as much at the trade deadline, but mentioning the Tigers' Jason Foley as an option is still worthwhile. He is under team control through 2027, has a very live fastball, doesn't walk guys, and is good at limiting barrels and getting guys to chase his stuff out of the zone. Putting up a 2.29 ERA in 39 appearances this season doesn't hurt, either.

Trading for Foley may not be super easy to pull off, though, While the Tigers "probably" need to give up on trying to contend in 2023, they aren't that far off from contending in the AL Central and may want to keep Foley for a little bit to see how the next couple of seasons go. There is also the cost problem in terms of prospects. The Braves are likely willing to be aggressive, but ponying up what Foley may cost could be a bridge too far.

Scott Barlow

Scott Barlow is probably the bullpen arm that has been a rumored trade target for almost every team the most since the season start. The Royals are bad, are going to be bad for a while, and they have already begun the selloff as they traded Aroldis Chapman before we even got into July. Barlow has plenty of experience in high leverage situations, misses a ton of bats, and limits hard contact.

Another nice thing about Barlow is that he would come with another year of team control. However, he is making more money this year ($5.3 million) than some of the other options that are going to be available at the deadline this year. He has also regressed a bit in 2023 with a 4.09 ERA and his walk rate leaves something to be desired. Given the amount of interest in Barlow, price is going to matter a lot here, but he should still be on the Braves' radar.

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