One of the more interesting positions to keep an eye on for the Atlanta Braves is left field. Would that be a position they consider improving or do they feel content with the platoon of Eddie Rosario and Kevin Pillar?
I personally think they will look to address left field only if there is a deal that makes sense. This could be one of those cases. In this deal, the Atlanta Braves would call up the Boston Red Sox and ask about Alex Verdugo.
The biggest question would be would the Red Sox move Verdugo? They are believed to be considering moving Adam Duvall, who might also make sense as a reunion with his former team. However, Verdugo would be a rather appealing name.
Masataka Yoshida locked up one of the outfield spots when he signed this winter and Jarren Duran has finally broken out. Meaning there is only one spot in the outfield left for Duvall or Verdugo. Duvall makes sense because he is a free agent at year's end, however, Verdugo would probably be the more attractive trade candidate. He would certainly return more in any trade seeing as he has a year of control left.
Verdugo was off to a career year, hitting .307/.379/.477 through his first 322 plate appearances but has struggled since. Even with the slump he is in, he is still hitting .272/.345/.424 7 HR, 57 R, 39 RBI, 4 SB with a .335 wOBA and 108 wRC+. Defensively is where most of his value comes from. While OAA has him as an average defender, he has accumulated 11 DRS which is good for second among all right fielders.
Of course, in Atlanta right field is occupied by Ronald Acuna Jr so Verdugo would be in left field if he were to come to Atlanta. He is not a typical slugger, like most of Atlanta's players, but the defense he provides might be seen as a value to this team with championship aspirations. He does exhibit strong bat-to-ball skills and very little swing-and-miss. Seeing as he would hit in the bottom third of the Braves lineup in this hypothetical scenario, that would certainly play.
The issue with this is it might be a tricky trade to figure out. It also probably depends on what the Braves front office believes regarding Eddie Rosario. Rosario has a streaky bat, to put it lightly. Defensively, he is a roller coaster. For those asking about Kevin Pillar, while he has had a good year, he is mostly a right-side platoon, defensive replacement guy at this point.
While Verdugo will not provide the same power, he would provide an above-average bat and above-average defense, plus he is controlled through 2024. Meaning the Braves could decline Rosario's $9M club option for 2024 if they chose to do so.
The trade, as mentioned earlier, is tricky because Boston is in the race. They would want something that could benefit them now as well as a future piece. The Red Sox might consider taking a bullpen arm in addition to another piece for Verdugo. While I know there are some that will happily draw up a Kirby Yates trade, that might be tough for the Braves. Instead, we might need to get creative and look for a third team to get involved.
They could potentially provide the bullpen arm for the Red Sox, while the Braves help supply prospects to both sides. They could also include Pillar in this hypothetical multi-team deal but that would be difficult to predict.
All of this to say, I think it might be difficult for the Braves to pull this off. I like the idea of Verdugo, but I do not believe the Braves have to find a left fielder before the deadline. I think they can live with the Rosario/Pillar platoon at the bottom of the order (as long as Pillar ends the game defensively in the postseason over Rosario). They can focus their efforts on another arm or two.
It would be interesting to see the Braves bring in Verdugo though. It is a long shot in my opinion, but maybe it is something the team would consider.
The Braves will want to explore every avenue to give this team the best shot to win another championship.