Braves insider hints that Atlanta could trade pair of star players

There is a real possibility that the Braves could get aggressive on the trade market if the opportunity arises.

Sep 26, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves designated hitter Marcell Ozuna (20) hits a RBI
Sep 26, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves designated hitter Marcell Ozuna (20) hits a RBI / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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This offseason is shaping up to be very similar to last offseason for the Atlanta Braves and the rest of the league. Before the 2023 season, free agent prices skyrocketed as we saw lengthy nine figure deals getting handed out all over the place and teams lamented how much players cost on the free agent market. Some of that was a few big spenders (the Mets, Phillies, and Rangers in particular) skewing the market, but there is no denying that prices sharply increased across the board.

The consequences for the Braves were significant as not only did the shift in the market contribute to Dansby Swanson leaving for the Cubs, but it also led Atlanta to turn to the trade market for roster upgrades as the Braves acquired Sean Murphy in a three-team deal that sent William Contreras out of town.

The early indicators are that this offseason could be very similar. Sonny Gray already signed for a bit higher AAV than expected and that was with him really wanting to play for the Cardinals and Aaron Nola finally got paid by the Phillies. Either the Braves are really going to have to pay up if they want to address their rotation concerns OR they are going to have to yet again turn to the trade market and a couple very interesting names have come up recently that could be trade pieces for them.

Are the Braves considering trading Marcell Ozuna and/or Raisel Iglesias?

One issue the Braves have is that they don't have a great deal of top-end talent or depth in the minor league ranks at the moment. AJ Smith-Shawver, Hurston Waldrep, Ignacio "Nacho" Alvarez, and Owen Murphy are all fine players, but Atlanta's prospect depth starts getting pretty speculative after that. With the Braves targeting higher end trade options like Dylan Cease, they may have to dip into their big league roster to make a big move happen and that is where things get interesting.

Yesterday, Braves beat writer and all-around excellent human Mark Bowman floated the idea that the Braves could consider trading Raisel Iglesias and/or Marcell Ozuna. The logic here being that both players are owed significant money over the next couple of seasons and both could be assets that Atlanta could afford to lose to beef up trade packages for a higher end starter while also freeing up payroll to make other moves.

Just a year ago, the idea that any team would want Ozuna at all was laughable. He was genuinely terrible in 2021 and 2022 (as well as at the start of 2023) and also had a pair of run-ins with the law that have stained his Braves' tenure. However, his value on the trade market sharply increased after he posted a .905 OPS and 3.3 rWAR with 40 home runs in 2023. Iglesias has been an excellent addition to Atlanta's bullpen over the last year and a half, but the Braves' bullpen is incredibly deep at the moment and they could probably afford to spare him for the right deal.

Are both of these guys likely to be traded? Honestly, probably not. The Braves should jump at the chance to sell high on Ozuna, but his legal troubles are going to limit his market and teams aren't going to forget his recent struggles at the plate or the $16 million he is owed for 2024. Iglesias would be much easier to move, but trading a stud closer when the Braves are expecting to be one of the best teams in baseball for the foreseeable future is a tough sell across the board.

Nevertheless, to get a big deal done, the Braves may have to move one or both of those guys. Trading away Ozzie Albies or Michael Harris II is even less likely that trading those two guys and the rest of the Braves' lineup is going to be off limits and trading Max Fried, who is entering his last year of team control, doesn't make much sense given Atlanta's starting pitching depth issues. It seems more likely that a guy like Vaughn Grissom is more likely to get traded, although whether or not he is enough to headline a trade package is open for debate.


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