There has been no shortage of trade talks lately, as the 2020 trade deadline is fast approaching, and the Braves’ starting rotation issues continue to bite them on a nightly basis (save for back-to-back days off on Monday and Tuesday to start this week). If you’ve paid any attention at all through the first 30-ish games of the current campaign, it’s quite clear where GM Alex Anthopoulos will be looking for reinforcements: starting pitching (though a case could also be made that something should be done concerning third base).
So instead of profiling another potential candidate for the Braves to acquire, how about listing the players Anthopoulos could use to pull off a much-needed trade. Deciding which player to go after is only half the battle. The Braves’ GM is not only responsible for acquiring the right piece to help push the team through the second half of the season, but he must also determine which of his own players he’s willing to give up.
So here’s my list of Braves that I believe should be on the trade block. Some you’ll agree with and some you won’t, so let us know in the comments or on Twitter:
(Note: the players below obviously aren’t every single possible trade piece at Anthopoulos’ disposal. These are just several of the organization’s most likely.)
Kyle Wright, RHP: A career 7.52 ERA over parts of three seasons in the majors, including a 7.20 mark so far in 2020. The Braves may think Wright’s 40.2 big league innings have been enough to conclude that he’s just not what they thought he was when they took him fifth overall in 2017. I still think he needs more time, though.
Bryse Wilson, RHP: Ditto to everything said above regarding Wright, except Wilson offers less potential upside as a starter, therefore resulting in less trade value. If he nets a big-league contributor, I’d almost bet the Braves would be open to moving Wilson, especially considering how well the bullpen has pitched thus far.
Touki Toussaint, RHP: Once thought of as a future ace, then a potential weapon out of the bullpen, Touki has come up short in both roles over the years. For his career, he sports a 5.67 ERA in 46 innings as a starter and a 5.63 ERA in 46.1 frames as a reliever. He still has some decent upside, but his time with the Braves has to be running out.
Kyle Muller / Tucker Davidson, LHP: I have both listed because I’m still not sure which lefty I’d rather hold on to. I doubt Anthopoulos would trade both players, but either one could headline a blockbuster deal. Two seasons ago, Muller was definitely the top lefty in the system, but after Davidson’s breakout in 2019, the two are neck and neck as far as potential big league lefty-starters.
Shane Greene, RHP: After receiving mixed reviews at the end of the 2019 season, Greene has been lights out this year, compiling an 0.73 ERA through his first 12.1 innings (12 appearances). The Braves have a surplus when it comes to relief arms, and right now, it appears Greene would be the most valuable arm to go if Anthopoulos went in that direction.
Jeremy Walker, RHP: If Anthopoulos isn’t prepared to part with Greene just yet, there’s always the Braves’ fifth-round pick from 2016, and current top-25 prospect, Jeremy Walker Walker. He’s currently on the 60-day IL with a right shoulder impingement and hasn’t pitched at all in 2020, but Walker has been lights out over the last couple of seasons, even holding his own in the majors (1.93 ERA / 9.1 IP).
A.J. Minter, LHP: Showing glimpses of why he was the team’s closer back in 2018 (before battling injuries and ineffectiveness last season), Minter has been sharp through his first 10 innings (11 appearances) in 2020, currently maintaining a 0.90 ERA and 9.9 strikeouts per nine. However, now that the Braves’ bullpen has been straightened out, there are at least four or five guys ahead of Minter on the high-leverage depth chart. Either way, his value may now be restored enough to help sweeten a trade package.
Ender Inciarte, OF: There’s really not much trade value left when it comes to Inciarte, thanks to a nosedive in performance over the last season and a half. However, there are still teams with outfield problems (like Cleveland) that would love to pencil him in as their starting center fielder.
Drew Waters, OF: Unfortunately, if the Braves’ rotation continues down its current path, next Monday Anthopoulos may be forced to choose between Waters and Cristian Pache, instead of holding onto both for an absolutely loaded outfield in the near future (which would be the preferred course of action). However, if a decision had to be made, I don’t believe there would be much hesitation. Pache is still the organization’s most-prized player, meaning Waters would be out.
Terone (Trey) Harris, OF: Ideally, it would be better to hold onto all three of Pache, Waters, and Harris, but to supplement the big league team, tough decisions will need to be made. Harris is too far down the organizational depth chart to be completely safe from a trade, though given a lack of playing-time above the Double-A level, it’s tough to gauge his trade value.
Adam Duvall, OF: Ever since last year’s postseason series against the Cardinals, Duvall has been an excellent option off the bench. However, I’m sure numerous teams would benefit from his power-bat and above-average glove as well. The Braves could afford to use him as a trade chip if needed.
Alex Jackson / William Contreras, C: Both are top-15 prospects at deep positions for the Braves, yet both also have drawbacks that have prevented them from reaching their full potential. Jackson has the power to play in the majors (he hit 28 homers in 2019), but struck out at an almost 40% clip (38.5%), while Contreras never could build off his 2018 campaign in the low minors. The Braves drafted Shea Langeliers with their first pick in 2019 for a reason, so maybe it’s time to let go of Jackson or Contreras.
Bryce Ball, 1B: The Athletic ran a piece recently featuring Ball in a mock trade package to acquire the Rangers’ Lance Lynn (along with Wright and Touki). Considering Freddie Freeman probably has at least five more seasons left as the Braves’ starting first baseman, I could see Anthopoulos moving the power-hitting Ball; but then again, the potential for the DH in the National League creates a more interesting opportunity if he stays in Atlanta.
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