Braves acquire Nicky Lopez from Kansas City Royals for Taylor Hearn
We already discussed the astoundingly atrocious numbers Hearn has put up as a big leaguer. Somehow, some way, Alex Anthopoulos was able to flip him for utility infielder Nicky Lopez.
Lopez is capable of playing all infield positions. Brian Snitker does not change the Braves lineup very often and the regulars will continue to play every night. However, having a guy like Lopez on the bench can go a long way down the stretch of the regular season.
There will be days that the regulars need rest to gear up for the playoffs. Lopez will be able to fill in those gaps. Injuries are unpredictable and unavoidable. In the unfortunate case that an everyday infielder goes down with an injury, Lopez is capable of playing every day as well.
He is not known for his bat as he has hit only .213 this season with the Royals in 68 games. However, he has walked 21 times and stolen 4 bases. Lopez very well could serve as a pinch runner in late-game scenarios too.
Trading a more than-struggling Taylor Hearn for a player who is capable of playing so many positions like Nicky Lopez is a classic Alex Anthopoulos move.
Braves acquire Brad Hand from Colorado Rockies for RHP Alec Barger
The Braves drafted Alec Barger in the 17th round of the 2019 draft. The right-hander from NC State University did not reach Double-A until this season. In 30 games for Mississippi (38.1 innings pitched), he was 3-2 with a 3.29 ERA. Barger struck out 48 batters in that span.
Brad Hand comes to the Braves in historic fashion. He has now played for all five NL East teams. The 13-year veteran and three-time All-Star brings over a 4.54 ERA on the season. He has struck out 41 batters in 35.2 innings pitched.
Just last year with the Phillies, Hand finished the season with a 2.80 ERA. The experience of Hand and proven success over his long career will be a great addition to the Braves bullpen. Especially when a left-handed bat comes to the plate in late innings. Left-handed hitters are only hitting .143 (7-49) against Hand this season.
Barger who is 25 and has just now reached Double-A could have been running out of time to prove himself to the Braves organization. The Rockies felt like he had some qualities that they could build off of and gave the Braves a long-tenured reliever that has had a lot of success at the Major League level.
The Braves could potentially be wondering how much Hand has in the tank after 13 seasons of pitching. This is his 4th highest ERA season in the MLB. Taking a chance on Hand was well worth the price.