Two months ago, nobody would have imagined the Braves as buyers with the deadline approaching. Now, the Braves are just six games back of the second Wild Card spot with a lot of baseball yet to play. They have won the second most games in the National League since May 12th.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 16, 2017
Atlanta has slowly retooled their roster for the better over the course of this season and are now one of the hottest teams in all of baseball. The Matt Adams trade, which was supposed to just be rental while Freddie Freeman was sidelined with a fractured wrist, has provided an unimaginable boost to the entire lineup. With Freddie Freeman back and willing to play third base, John Coppollela and the Braves may have just lucked into something really special.
But one thing is for sure: Coppy is not done yet.
The Braves will be one of the busiest teams in the MLB at the deadline, whether that is as sellers or as buyers.
If it is as sellers, Atlanta has a multitude of valuable pieces that could be finding themselves new homes. The aforementioned Matt Adams would be one of those guys. His value has skyrocketed since joining the Braves, and with his contract only running through the end of this season, it would be wise to for Atlanta to get whatever they can for the slugging first baseman.
Teams will also be contacting the Braves on Brandon Phillips, R.A. Dickey, Jaime Garcia and several others.
One of the most interesting names to watch as the deadline approaches is Julio Teheran. Atlanta has flirted with trading Teheran several times and turned down some large offers, but this finally might be the time they decide to move him.
Teheran has struggled during this first half, and it is clear he is never going to be the consistent ace the Braves may have expected him to be. But there is still value there. He is a notoriously streaky pitcher and coming off two really good outings. If a team thinks Teheran can be the guy that can put them over the top, they might be willing to part ways with some top prospects. The Braves have an overload of young pitching prospects on the cusp of being ready for the majors, which might make Teheran more expendable than he has been in the past.
Though if the Braves can stay hot in a weak National League, their odds of being sellers will become slimmer and slimmer. Yes, this might finally be the year we see Atlanta delve into their loaded farm system and make some moves to improve the major league team. The city and most importantly the Braves are starting to believe in themselves, and the rumors about them possibly making a move for some frontline pitching are beginning to swirl.
Atlanta is not done looking for major league starting pitching. Goal is to use organizational depth to find a frontline, under-control type.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 15, 2017
The Braves have a top scout in Detroit this weekend. Verlander last night and Fulmer tonight. They'll continue to look for starting pitchers
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) July 15, 2017
Today's start is the first of three Garcia could make before the deadline. The Braves may deal him and attempt to add a controllable starter
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) July 16, 2017
Those are just some of several names the Braves have and will be linked to over the coming weeks. The names might change, but the goal for the Braves will remain the same if they are indeed buyers. They will be attempting to add another pitcher to put at the top of the rotation with Teheran. Beyond that, the Braves will be looking for bullpen help. The pen, especially left-handers, have been shaky for the entire season. They will certainly get a boost when A.J. Minter gets promtoed to the big leagues, but Atlanta may need to add at least one more veteran bullpen arm for a real chance at a playoff run.
Even though the trade rumors are coming from every direction, do not expect Atlanta to be in any rush to find an offer. Their decision on whether to buy or sell will largely depend on how they do in these next three series versus fellow playoff contenders: Cubs, Dodgers and Diamondbacks. After that stretch, the Braves will have a much better idea where they stand and what direction they should go in.