MLB insider links Braves to one of this year's biggest trade deadline names

One of baseball's most exciting players could find himself on the move but will Atlanta be that destination?

Chicago White Sox v Chicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox v Chicago Cubs / Jamie Sabau/GettyImages

Trade deadline season is rapidly approaching and the Atlanta Braves will most certainly be one of the team's hoping to fill needs. The 2024 season has not been kind to Atlanta despite the first month of the season being a promising start.

After the conclusion of April, the Braves found themselves with a 19-9 record despite a rough first couple of weeks. Spencer Strider and Max Fried had the worst starts to a season you could imagine and then Strider found out he needed UCL surgery after just two outings. All-Star catcher Sean Murphy was also lost to injury after one game despite a hot end to his spring. This put an awful taste in the mouth of a team hoping to improve upon a historic 2023 season.

Max Fried eventually found his footing and the team was finding ways to win games. They were surprised by Chris Sale and Reynaldo Lopez who weren't expected to be as good as they have been. Those two pitchers have become two of the most successful of the 2024 season to this point. Max Fried has joined them after getting through his rough patch.

However, things went south rather quickly for the team offensively in May. Atlanta finished the month with a record below .500 with 13 wins and 14 losses. The once record-shattering offense lost its chokehold on baseball and struggled to find sustained momentum. The ball was getting hit hard but with no results to be spoken of.

Flash forward to June 13 and the Atlanta Braves are 35-30 and have lost five straight games for the first time since 2017. They are 10 games back of the division lead as the Philadelphia Phillies have been playing some of the best baseball in years with an NL-best 46-21 record (second-best in MLB behind the Yankees).

The Braves are on track for the worst month of the season as they are 3-7 currently in June. As mentioned, they're on a five-game losing streak that includes losses to the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles. One team they were expected to have an easy time with but nothing is going how Atlanta expected.

They are without superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. after he tore his ACL in his left knee on a freak play when he attempted to get back to second base in Pittsburgh. This forced the team to abandon their platoon plans with Adam Duvall and Jarred Kelenic.

Duvall has been excellent against left-handers (.262 average, six HR, 16 RBI) in 2024 but his splits with right-handed pitching on the mound are atrocious (.085/.133/.113) with six hits and one RBI over 75 plate appearances. Kelenic has been a nice surprise for the Braves but his stats are much better against RHP than LHP so the platoon makes sense. However, with an overall .258 average on the season, he's earned a shot to play daily.

MLB insider Jon Heyman links Braves to one of this year's biggest trade deadline names

What can the team do to fill the void that has become Adam Duvall? MLB insider Jon Heyman offered a name that could be a solution for the Braves. It would give them an incredible everyday option in the outfield which is welcome after losing Acuna for at least a year.

Bleacher Report shared on Wednesday that Heyman released a list of six teams that he deemed "potential suitors" for the talented Luis Robert Jr. The White Sox have made it known they plan to move the star outfielder at the trade deadline so this news didn't come as a shock.

However, the Braves being tied as a potential suitor for his services is a bit shocking. This is because fans wouldn't have expected to need to replace their superstar due to injury for the second time in three years.

Atlanta fans also didn't expect the season to go sideways the way it has offensively except for designated hitter Marcell Ozuna. The Braves are listed as suitors alongside the Dodgers, Phillies, Royals, Mariners, and Blue Jays.

Luis Robert Jr. will require a rather high price tag because of how good he is. He is currently on a 6-year, $50 million deal that runs through the 2025 season which comes out to a $8.33 million AAV. His contract also includes club options for the 2026 and 2027 seasons valued at $20 million each with $2 million buyouts. If the options are picked up, the contract would be totaled at $88 million.

Robert Jr. is owed $12.5 million in 2024 and would make $15 million during the 2025 season. The $12.5 million in 2024 is exactly what the Braves owe Ronald Acuna Jr. in 2024 and his contract is structured similarly to Robert's. Acuna's deal runs through 2026 with club options for 2027 and 2028. If the Braves were to find a way to trade for Robert, they'd be tied up for $32 million between the pair in 2025.

However, it's a price worth considering for the Braves as Marcell Ozuna comes off the books at season's end. The Braves could look to bring him back or save that money and put it towards someone like Luis Robert Jr.

Is Luis Robert Jr.'s cost worth the risk for the Braves?

He makes a lot of sense for the Braves and getting out of Chicago could do wonders for his season. Currently, Robert is batting .196 in 2024 with six homers and nine RBI through 15 games including a .804 OPS and a wRC+ of 117.

He was reinstated from the IL about a week ago as he healed from a hip flexor injury. He is great like Duvall against lefties with a .273 average against southpaws in 13 plate appearances. Surprisingly, all six of his home runs have come against right-handed pitchers. His average against RHP is .178 with a .813 OPS which is almost 100 points higher than what the Braves are getting from Duvall against righties.

Robert's career splits include a .333 average in 338 plate appearances against LHP and a .261 average (18 HR, 52 RBI) in 1,241 plate appearances against RHP (62 HR, 167 RBI).

In 2023, Robert batted .264 with 38 home runs, 80 RBI, and stole 20 bases including an .857 OPS and a 5.0 WAR. This earned him a Silver Slugger, an All-Star nod, and placed him 12th in AL MVP voting. He is a career .278 hitter with a .825 OPS, 80 home runs, 219 RBI, 47 stolen bases, 125 OPS+, and a 12.6 WAR.

The main knock against him is that he strikes out a lot and that's something Atlanta needs to cut down on but they could help him do that. Atlanta's primary concern with Robert will be the cost of attaining his services. He will require a hefty haul and the Braves don't have the deepest farm system. It would probably take prospects on the level of AJ Smith-Shawver, Hurston Waldrep, Nacho Alvarez Jr., and Drake Baldwin along with some MLB-ready talent to get the deal done.

Atlanta probably won't want to make that big of a commitment, especially with internal options available to fill the void if Duvall continues to scuffle. However, with the loss of Acuna Jr. and the need for a spark, this could be the best decision the Braves make at the trade deadline.

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