A familiar Braves face could be a hot commodity at the trade deadline

MLB: JUN 13 Rangers at Dodgers

The trade deadline will be a hot topic for Braves fans because this is a team with World Series aspirations and obvious holes on the roster.

The outfield and shortstop positions will be the most talked about, but nobody should rule out the pitching staff. Alex Anthopoulos is all about value, so if a deal for a starter or reliever comes about, the Braves will pounce.

There’s no denying that the outfield will see at least one acquisition. It’s the area of the team that is most clearly in need of new talent while also being on the cheaper side in terms of prospect capital.

With a few weeks until the deadline, the Braves will begin to be linked to potential targets. A reunion with an old friend could be on the table, one that I haven’t seen anyone mention — Kirby Yates.

Atlanta’s bullpen is among the best in baseball, but relievers are generally had for pennies at the trade deadline, and there’s no reason not to overkill it if you’re Alex Anthopoulos.

Yates has had an extraordinary climb back to dominance. A few offseasons ago, the Braves took a gamble on him as he was coming off Tommy John surgery. He sat on the shelf for most of the 2022 campaign and came back in 2023.

He ended the season with a more than respectable 3.28 ERA and 11.9 K/9, but the Braves ended up declining to pick up his $5.75 million club option this past offseason, opting to pay him a $1.25 million buyout, in part because of his peripherals.

Yates had a 4.63 FIP and an unsightly 5.8 batters walked per nine innings as well as struggling in high-leverage situations. The Braves also bolstered the bullpen in the form of re-signing Pierce Johnson and Joe Jimenez, while adding Aaron Bummer and welcoming back Tyler Matzek and Dylan Lee from injury.

Kirby Yates ended up signing a one-year deal with the Rangers for $4.5 million, and Texas may end up cashing in on that investment at the trade deadline if they do end up selling.

The 37-year-old has turned back the clock and looks like one of the best relievers in baseball again, owning a minuscule 0.86 ERA across 31 appearances. He’s surrendered just three earned runs across 31.1 innings thanks to a 12.4 K/9 and 0.862 WHIP. His 1.76 FIP suggests minor regression could be coming, but even if it does, that’s elite production that will be highly sought after at the trade deadline.

Maybe a reunion with the Braves could come to fruition.

Photographer: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire
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