Last season, Alex Anthopoulos worked his magic at the trade deadline as well as anyone has in the history of the game. The Braves don’t win the World Series without the contributions of Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, and Eddie Rosario. In fact, they probably don’t get over the hump without one of them. Each provided their own piece of magic on the way to Atlanta’s first championship since 1995.
But as remarkable as last season’s run was, it’s in the past. This year’s squad is arguably even more talented, and the Braves are hungry to become the first repeat champions since the 2000 Yankees.
I’ve said several times over the last few weeks that I don’t expect this trade deadline to be anything like last year’s. Last season, the team was in a deep hole in the standings, and they had just lost their best player for the season, Ronald Acuña Jr. Without several substantial additions, the Braves were dead in the water.
This season’s team is in a much better position. They are better in all three phases — offense, starting pitching, bullpen — and they have pretty good depth. The Braves could probably stand pat at the deadline and be just fine. But teams can always get better, and the Braves are no different. So if an opportunity arises, I expect Anthopoulos to pounce before the trade deadline.
The Braves GM recently spoke on the subject with Jeff Schultz of The Athletic and echoed many of the same sentiments.
It’s very different than last year. We’ve had injuries this year, but we have a lot of depth. Going into last year, we had to cut payroll (mandated by Liberty Media following the COVID-19 pandemic), and our one concern was lack of depth. Once we had injuries, we were exposed. Now I think it’s just going to be monitoring the market. Obviously, if there’s a front-of-the-rotation starter, you make room for those guys. If there’s a lock-down late-inning reliever or an elite position player, you make room for those guys. But there’s not too many of those guys available at every trade deadline, and sometimes there’s not any. I would say right now it’s critical to watch the team and obviously our health. It might be one of those things where we don’t have a true glaring area, but we definitely have areas where we can improve. Because once the deadline (passes), we can’t add. But we’re not there yet. We haven’t made any decisions.
If I had to guess, Alex Anthopoulos will most likely be targeting a reliever or extra left-handed bat at the trade deadline. A frontline starter would be glorious, but I think the team still believes in Charlie Morton, and starting pitching at the deadline is usually incredibly expensive. Given the Braves’ weak farm system, focusing on bullpen help and one-year rentals that can provide some offense makes the most sense.
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