The Atlanta Braves are in trouble. Just a few weeks away from the trade deadline, the front office has some serious decisions to make with the team sitting one game under .500 at the All-Star break.
The next few weeks will ultimately decide which route the Braves take at the trade deadline. There is a real chance the front office trades their one-year contracts to get at least something, rather than nothing when the players leave in free agency. In fact, Jon Heyman and most others even expect that to be the direction the Braves take in a couple of weeks. Hopefully, the addition of Joc Pederson will prevent that from happening, but they’ll have to navigate a very difficult beginning to the second half of the season. If things start to go south, a lottery ticket-type prospect netted in a trade is better than no return at all.
Potentially overlooked one-year contract that may net a small return?
Drew Smyly is a perfect example of a guy the Braves would try to move if retooling is the route the front office chooses. He only has a few months left on his contract, and if the Braves do not think they will not compete this year, there is no reason to keep him around. Guys like Kyle Wright or Bryse Wilson could come up and possibly gain some confidence at the major-league level when the pressure isn’t so high.
Early in the season, it would have been laughable to think that another team would take on Smyly’s contract AND add something to it to obtain him. Looking at his season as a whole, it may still seem that way too. With surface numbers of 4.48 ERA, 1.353 WHIP, 7.8 Strikeouts per 9 innings (SO9), and 0.3 WAR in 15 starts, Smyly does not appear like the type of player other teams would be lining up to trade for.
What have you done for the Atlanta Braves lately?
Smyly’s overall season numbers for the Atlanta Braves are nothing to get excited about, but he has been excellent as of late. In his past 7 starts since June 2nd, he has an ERA of 2.75. His SO9 and WHIP are staying pretty consistent, with a 7.75 and 1.41, respectively. One stat really sticks out, though — home runs (HR). In his first 8 starts, Smyly gave up a whopping 13 HR. Since then, he has only given up 3. It appears he has conquered his kryptonite, and his ERA is reaping the benefits.
According to Baseball Savant, Drew Smyly has shown a massive improvement in underlying metrics as well, especially in the expected weighted on base average (xwOBA).
In the last 100 plate appearances of batters faced, his xwOBA went from the bottom 20% of the league to the top 71%. This shows that he is not just getting lucky but is truly improving. Odds are that inquiring teams are going to look at metrics like these, because after all, you are trading for what they are going to do in the future, not what they have done in the past.
Trading Drew Smyly will be far from a blockbuster decision, but he has done well enough over the last couple of months to boost his value heading into the trade deadline. If the Braves fall completely out of the race, several teams will likely be inquiring about Smyly.