It is very evident that the Braves are focusing on evaluating their young talent during the tail end of the season. The team has shifted from competing for a Wild Card spot to reloading for next year. John Coppolella has been in the process of acquiring prospects and shedding salary for a couple weeks now, and chances are he is not done. While some of these moves seem minor, he has already freed up more than $10 million for this offseason with the trades of Jaime Garcia and Sean Rodriguez alone. The Braves have a bunch of veteran pieces they could try to move by August 31. Let’s take a look.
Matt Adams is awesome. This does not change the fact that the Braves have no room for him. They could opt to keep him as a bench player who can back up left field and first base, but with just a year left on his deal after the 2017 season, the Braves may look to sell high and get a return on the investment they made in him. The problem is that not many teams that are competing need a first baseman right now. The only team that meets this criterion is the New York Yankees. He could be a relatively cheap option for them, so do not be surprised in Adams is in pinstripes by month’s end. Once Matt Kemp comes back, Adams playing times seems like it will be limited.
Nick Markakis is more likely to be moved in the offseason. Like Adams, he has been a serious contributor to the team but is only under contract until the end of next season. The Braves have superstar prospect Ronald Acuna absolutely mashing in AAA at age 19, and it looks like he could be Atlanta’s starting right fielder on Opening Day. If the front office feels this is the case, if they have a taker for his $11 million salary ahead of the offseason they will probably take it. Matt Adams and Matt Kemp would likely have to play the corners, which would not be pretty, but it would only be temporary. Or they may call up Acuna for a September call up.
Jason Motte has been a very underrated player for the Braves. it is no coincidence that the bullpen’s worst stretch came during his absence. With that being said, the Braves signed him to a one-year minor league contract. If they could get any type of return for him they would be foolish not to do so. He will likely be had very cheap, but if the Braves can get anything remotely close to a prospect they should pull the trigger. The team still has the likes of AJ Minter, Jason Hursh and Akeel Morris in the AAA bullpen, so reinforcements are not an issue.
Jim Johnson should not be closing games anymore (which he is not), but that does not mean he cannot be an effective bullpen arm. He is under contract for next season, so if the Braves do not want him to be a part of next year’s pen, they could look to move him. We have seen the Braves trade Johnson and then hold onto him the past two seasons. Anyone’s best guess here, but his veteran presence can help this young Braves team as long as he’s pitching in a middle relief role. He could be a low-key nice, cheap addition for a contender that wants more bullpen experience.
It is no secret the Braves are trying to move Brandon Phillips. They are essentially forcing him to play out of position, and while he has handled things professionally, there is no doubt his Braves days are numbered. John Hart discussed the possibility of potentially bringing him back as a bench player, but it seemed like this comment was made more to appease fans. The team will try to find a taker for Phillips and hope that Dansby Swanson bounces back and they can move Johan Camargo to the hot corner.
Honorable mentions: R.A. Dickey and Kurt Suzuki
Both of these guys could easily be moved. They are both veterans on short term deals. However, both of them have played such a big role for the team in 2017 that the Braves will retain them. Dickey has an $8 million option for next season. The Braves could try to move him if they feel this money could be better allocated, but he has been absolutely worth the money this year. The Braves have a wave of young arms coming up, but Dickey is the only veteran in the rotation. His presence is so valuable for the team and he eats innings. He will likely be back despite being placed on waivers.
Suzuki will be a free agent, but the production the team has gotten out of the Flowers-Suzuki platoon has been great. If it ain’t broke dont fix it, they say. He may be due for a raise, but a nice two year deal could be in the best interest of both parties, as Tyler Flowers will be a free agent after next season.