2. Option 2: Improve Rotation and Left Field
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
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.