Atlanta Braves Potential Trade Deadline Options as of July 31st

We are now two days away from the MLB trade deadline. Some big names have already been moved which could be leaving the Atlanta Braves with limited options and that's okay.

Cincinnati Reds v Atlanta Braves
Cincinnati Reds v Atlanta Braves / Adam Hagy/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Braves wrapped up Hank Aaron weekend at Truist Park with a series sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers. They have improved their MLB-best record to 67-36.

While the Braves were busy putting up absurd offensive numbers, other organizations were getting a head start on the trade deadline madness. Some of the players that were dealt could have fit nicely in Atlanta, but either cost too much or were not viewed as a necessity.

The Texas Rangers have made the most noise so far by acquiring both Max Scherzer from the Mets and Jordan Montgomery from the Cardinals to bulk up their starting rotation. Luisangel Acuna, the brother of Braves' superstar Ronald Acuna, was sent to the Mets in exchange for Scherzer. He was the Rangers' #3 prospect.

St. Louis also dealt one of their most dependent bullpen arms, Jordan Hicks, to the Toronto Blue Jays. Outside of Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals may no longer have anyone the Braves are interested in.

In a surprising turn of events, there have also been teams that were seemingly locked to be sellers at the deadline and are now looking to make a playoff push of their own. The Los Angeles Angels acquired starting pitcher Lucas Giolito from the Chicago White Sox and made it clear they are retaining Shohei Ohtani.

The Angels also acquired outfielder Randal Grichuk and first baseman C.J. Cron on Sunday evening.
They are 5.5 games back in their division and 4 games out of a wild card spot. The Angels feel this is close enough to make a push for the playoffs.

The Chicago Cubs are also no longer sellers as they have won 10 of their last 12 games climbing up in the NL Central standings to just 3.5 games out. It is safe to say that Cody Bellinger and Marcus Stroman who were once considered top trade targets for multiple teams are staying put in the Windy City.

So Now What?

The combination of potential sellers becoming buyers and the deals that have already been made makes things a little more interesting for the Braves as Tuesday approaches. If there is anyone who will know what to do in this situation, it's Alex Anthopoulos.

We all know that AA is not the GM that typically makes trades days before the deadline, nor does he panic and start making moves when everyone else does.

A lot of times the moves he makes are not for big-name players or even prospects but for guys, he knows complete the team already established in Atlanta. Need context? Go look at the 2021 World Series roster before and after the trade deadline that season.

Here are three options the Braves could have left to make sure that the team is ready to compete for a World Series in 2023.

1. Option 1: Nothing

Milwaukee Brewers v Atlanta Braves
Milwaukee Brewers v Atlanta Braves / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

As people say in the South, "If it ain't broke don't fix it." In case you haven't heard, the Braves are the best team in baseball. Yes, at times the rotation has had some bad outings, the bullpen has struggled, and even the offense has had nights where they score less than 5 runs.

It is a 162-game season and human beings are playing a really hard game. It very well could be that this team feels so complete that AA decides not to make any trades and give away prospects/money when he does not have to.

Max Fried, Kyle Wright, AJ Minter, Nick Anderson, and Jesse Chavez coming back from injury at some point may serve as effective trade acquisitions anyway. It may not be the most exciting to fans, but the truth of the matter is: this team can win it all the way it is.

2. Option 2: Improve Rotation and Left Field

New York Mets v Boston Red Sox
New York Mets v Boston Red Sox / Winslow Townson/GettyImages

The starting rotation for the Atlanta Braves has not been bad by any means this season. Anytime a team is 30+ games above .500, pitching is doing exactly what it needs to in order to win baseball games.

In a perfect world, the Braves rotation consists of Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Kyle Wright, and Bryce Elder. The injury bug has sidelined Fried and Wright for a while resulting in the Braves using multiple arms to cover their shifts.

Injuries at times can be unavoidable and there may be some questioning if Kyle Wright can return to his 21-game winner form. If there is some worry that he cannot, adding another starter would not be a bad idea for the right price.

The Boston Red Sox who have already proven they are sellers by dealing Kike Hernadez, could be the potential trade partner to make this happen. Not only could they help the Braves improve their rotation, but they could also provide Atlanta with a power-hitting left fielder.

James Paxton, a 34-year-old left-handed veteran who has a 6-2 record with a 3.34 ERA this season likely would not cost much. Package in former Atlanta Brave Adam Duvall and it sounds even more intriguing.

Eddie Rosario has played well enough to play every day, but if you have the chance to improve, why not take it?

It would most likely take a couple of prospects and maybe some cash to pull off this trade. However, with Boston always having the pressure to win in their market, they could ask for top prospects to speed up their potential rebuild. If that is the case, AA will steer clear of that conversation.

3. Option 3: Go All in on the Bullpen

San Diego Padres v Toronto Blue Jays
San Diego Padres v Toronto Blue Jays / Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/GettyImages

The San Diego Padres are loaded with MLB-level talent, yet are struggling to win. With their $248 million payroll (3rd highest in MLB), it is hard to imagine that they will keep coughing up that money without getting the results they want.

With that being said, they are still 5.5 games back from a wild card spot, so maybe they have not lost all hope. 51-54 is still not the expectation for the Padres at this point in the season. If they do elect to sell this season, it would make sense for them to start by moving pitchers first.

Position players like Fernado Tatis Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Manny Machado, and Juan Soto will likely stay put. That is just too much star power to not give another chance in 2024. If they can trade some arms that aren't working for them now for pitchers they feel will have more success in the future, they may pull the trigger.

The Braves have guys like Kolby Allard, A.J. Smith-Shawver, and Allan Winans who (in a small sample size) have proven they can get outs at the MLB level.

Maybe a combination of one of these players plus a current bullpen arm like AJ Minter plus some cash could be enough to aggressively pursue all-star Josh Hader. If that is still not enough for Hader, left-hander Tom Cosgrove could also be a nice fit.

Cosgrove may not be a household name but a 1.93 ERA in 28 innings pitched speaks for itself. Cosgrove is only being paid 720,000 this season on his 1-year contract. With a performance like this, the Padres will likely be looking to re-sign him, and moving him will not eliminate enough of that gigantic payroll to make a difference in 2023.

Either one of these moves is a long shot for the Atlanta Braves (hence this being option 3) but worth an ask if the opportunity is there.