As the trade deadline approaches, the Atlanta Braves are absolutely in contention. In fact, they currently have the best record in baseball at the break and are one of the favorites for the World Series. Meaning they will need to buy at the trade deadline.
To buy, that means the Braves need something valuable to give up. To start this article, I will point out that the Braves do not currently have a ton of valuable trade chips in the minor leagues. Thankfully, the Braves do not need a huge blockbuster move as of right now. They are one of the better rosters and could look at smaller moves to help build out the roster rather than making one big splash.
Plus, they figure to get their best pitcher Max Fried back soon. Getting Max Fried back will be like making a trade without having to make a trade.
I will not apologize for that line. I know you chuckled.
For a disclaimer for this article, the Braves' best trade chip is Vaughn Grissom. It probably makes sense to include Grissom in a deal for a solid player. However, since Grissom is technically not a prospect, I will not be including him. He is an obvious name anyways so we do not need to spend time discussing him as a trade chip.
Also, "trade" just means I would be fine trading a player. It does not mean the Braves should trade them. "Hold" just means I think the prospect makes sense to keep. However, if a major blockbuster name comes along, there is no true untouchable prospect in the system. If the Angels want to trade Ohtani to the Braves, then I would be fine with moving Owen Murphy (spoiler).
TRADE: Dylan Dodd
This could say Dylan Dodd/Jared Shuster honestly. The Braves currently have Spencer Strider, Bryce Elder, Charlie Morton, Kolby Allard, Michael Soroka, AJ Smith-Shawver, Dodd, and Shuster. They will also be getting Fried back and there's an outside shot to get Kyle Wright back but it is not a certainty.
There is a lot of arms. Meaning the Braves could potentially use Dodd (or Shuster) in a move to potentially bolster the bullpen. Both guys project as mid-rotation guys as best, maybe backend, but there is not a lot of room for them to develop at the major league level.
A team like the St Louis Cardinals who has had trouble developing any starting pitching might view either as an interesting target for someone in their bullpen. A popular name is Jordan Hicks. Maybe instead of grabbing a prospect that takes a few years away, could a team view a major league-ready pitcher as more valuable, especially if they want to get back to being competitive in 2024.
HOLD: Owen Murphy
I am all aboard the Owen Murphy hype train. Looking at his numbers, a 4.44 ERA, 4.43 FIP, and 3.64 xFIP may not jump off the screen. However, the 30.5% strikeout rate is something that I find really intriguing.
I think he has a live arm and a great arsenal that has the potential to develop into a high-level prospect over the next two years. I think this is a pitcher that has tremendous upside if it all comes together.
The Braves can afford to be patient with Murphy as well. Give him time, help him hone in on the command, and cut down the walks (9.5%). The Braves can let him spend all year in Augusta, move to Rome in 2024, and then start pushing the upper levels of the minors in 2025.
TRADE: David McCabe
A college bat drafted last year, David McCabe has done a great job at the plate in the minor leagues. This year in Low A Augusta, he hit .267/.381/.493 8 HR, 26 R, 25 RBI, .409 wOBA, & 148 wRC+ across 176 plate appearances. This earned him a promotion to Rome, where he is currently hitting .268/.379/.423 4 HR, 9 R, 16 RBI, .371 wOBA, & 124 wRC+ across 116 plate appearances.
He projects at third base, or first base, or could move to a corner outfield spot. He shows a good feel for hitting at the plate and could develop into an excellent major-league hitter. Plus, as an older prospect from college, he could move up the system quickly.
A team could look to add McCabe into a deal to get a player that could contribute at the major league level by the end of 2024 or early 2025.
Will he bring back a great return on his own? Probably not. However, he could be used to add a solid player at the deadline or maybe be used as a part of a package to help the Braves push for a championship.
HOLD: AJ Smith-Shawver
I have been all about AJ Smith-Shawver for the last couple of years. I did not see his meteoric rise in 2023 though. One that saw him reach the major leagues this season for a bit.
While he did need to go back down to Gwinnett, I think we saw exactly what makes him a special prospect. While the national rankings were behind, the Braves organization knew what they had in AJSS. This is a power arm with the potential to be something special. This is the type of pitching prospect teams only move in a blockbuster deal.
I do not see many blockbusters happening for the Braves at this deadline. Smith-Shawver could be a big part of the rotation on a regular basis by 2024. One could make the argument that he could be a solid bullpen arm for the Braves to end 2023 if they should choose to go that route.
TRADE: Spencer Schwellenbach
I do like Spencer Schwellenbach's potential, but they cannot hang on to all their arms. There is an argument that Schwellenbach could be one of the more valuable trade pieces in the Braves system.
He missed some time due to injury and did not make his official debut for the Braves until this year. In 51.1 innings for Augusta, he has a 2.63 ERA, 3.82 FIP, & 3.97 xFIP. His strikeout rate of 19.6% is not as high as one would like, but hopefully, as he continues to build up his arm, he can add more swing and miss to his game.
Schwellenbach has performed well enough to be the Braves representative at the Future's game. With the solid year and the selection, his prospect value/shine is rising. While he is not considered an elite prospect by any means, he could be an interesting name for rebuilding teams to target in a trade with the Braves.