We are past Memorial Day, so it is officially alright to start taking a peek at the standings, and more excitingly, start drumming up potential trades. After two months of baseball, the NL East hasn’t come out as strong as expected, and the Braves look to be in a two-man race once again with the Philadelphia Phillies. Atlanta’s offense has led them this far, but the pitching is going to have to step up if they want to be called back-to-back NL East champions. The good news: there are going to be plenty of opportunities for Alex Anthopoulos to reach into his bag of tricks and help strengthen the bullpen and possibly even the rotation.
While the Pittsburgh Pirates are still contending for an NL Wild Card spot, their -63 run differential tells a different story. Teams with -63 run differentials don’t need closers. Vasquez is sporting an excellent 1.57 ERA with 14 saves, good for 3rd in the majors. While everyone still wants Craig Kimbrel, I think Vasquez is a better option. He’s younger, left-handed, and is under team control until 2022. Even though this is my top trade target, Vasquez won’t come cheap. He’ll likely cost one of Luiz Gohara, Bryse Wilson, Kolby Allard, or Joey Wentz and another top pitching prospect like Kyle Muller. Drew Waters is one of my favorite guys in the system, but he could be included as well. Pittsburgh might also push for Derian Cruz/Travis Demeritte, and the Braves should oblige considering both of those guys are blocked on the major league team.
Iglesias is a bit of a poor man’s Vasquez. He’s still solid, but his ERA has risen to a modest 3.08 from 2.38 last year. Iglesias is a buy-low candidate from a Reds team that is figuring everything out. He has 11 saves so far, but also has five losses. Iglesias remains an upgrade in the pen, even as a setup man if the Braves do get Kimbrel. Because of that, he will come at a cost, but not nearly as steep as Vasquez. Think one higher end guy like Allard and some lower level guys like Huascar Ynoa, Freddy Tarnok or Jaseel De La Cruz.
Madison Bumgarner & Tony Watson/Will Smith
This is the big one. Atlanta could acquire a frontline starter who has dominated the postseason and a top tier reliever in one swoop. Watson and Smith are both lefties with Sub 3.00 ERAs. Watson costs a little more, so the Braves would likely have to give up less in prospect capital to get him. Bumgarner’s main selling point is his absurd 2.11 ERA in October to go along with an 8-3 Record and 0.89 WHIP. Not many guys can claim they have a 0.43 ERA in World Series contests. Kyle Wright, Gohara, and any other top prospect besides Riley, Soroka and Pache are on the table here, but I don’t see Atlanta giving up that much for a guy who hasn’t been himself this season and is on the last year of his deal. If Anthopoulos can get San Francisco to blink, this could be huge for Atlanta to have Soroka, Fried, and Bumgarner trot out in the first three games of a playoff series.