I’m not quite sure why Braves fans are still doubting this man.
All Alex Anthopoulos has done since arriving in Atlanta is take a solid core group of young players and make it exponentially better piece by piece. People complained about the Josh Donaldson signing. Now, he’s the MVP of the team. People complained about not making a substantial trade before the season. Now, those potential trades look terrible. The guy knows what he’s doing, and when it came to the trade deadline, I never had any doubts that he was going to make several moves.
It took a while, but that had to do with the teams selling more than anything. They were aware of how many buyers were out there and held out until the last possible second to strike the best deal.
On the night before the trade deadline, the Braves made a move for Chris Martin from the Rangers. The price was a little steeper than I imagined for a rental reliever with no track record to speak of, but Kolby Allard was on the cusp of being a major leaguer and was blocked by six or seven other young arms. He was never going to be a piece of Atlanta’s future, so the Braves began bolstering their bullpen by trading him to the Rangers.
Martin will become a late-inning relief arm for Atlanta. He throws in the high 90s, rarely issues a walk (0.9 BB/9), and has only allowed three earned runs since May 24th. Immediately, he becomes the best pitcher the Braves have in their bullpen.
That is until Anthopoulos made two more moves right before the buzzer sounded.
Shane Greene is the most significant prize of the trade deadline. He’s having an eye-popping year for the Tigers, posting a 1.18 ERA in 38 appearances on his way to his first All-Star Game. Is there some expected regression at some point? Yes, but even if he doubles his ERA in Atlanta, he will be the best closer this team has had since Craig Kimbrel. Greene also comes with one more year of control and only cost the Braves Joey Wentz and Travis Demeritte.
Wentz is a player we were higher on than most here at SportsTalkATL. The 21-year-old posted sub-three ERAs as a starter in both Rome and Florida. However, he did hit a bit of a roadblock in AA Mississippi, recording a 4.72 ERA this year in 20 starts. There’s potential for him to be a major league pitcher in a couple of years, but the Braves have tons of arms of equal or better value. To be able to patch up their most glaring hole for the cost of Wentz is the definition of a steal.
Anthopoulos didn’t stop there. He had one more trick up his sleeve, trading Tristan Beck and Dan Winkler to the Giants for Mark Melancon.
Melancon isn’t the All-Star he was a few years ago, but he remains a highly productive arm – that two days ago – might have been the best reliever on the Braves. Fortunately, he won’t be asked to close ball games in Atlanta with Shane Greene on the roster, but he’s another option for Brian Snitker to turn to in the later innings and is under control through 2020. Melancon also comes with loads of experience, which will be critical come October.
Tristan Beck was a fourth-round pick last year out of Stanford. He has high upside and generated some first-round love coming out of high school. However, his results in High-A ball have been disappointing. Beck’s 2-2 with a 5.65 ERA in eight starts for the Fire Frogs this season.
The focus of the trade deadline was clear. Anthopoulos solidified what was a decent bullpen and turned it into one of the best in baseball. According to AA himself, the Braves were nowhere close to trading for a starting pitcher even though they did want to acquire one. Prices around the league were astronomically high, and Anthopoulos wisely held off.
It was a day of winning for the Braves. They beat the Nationals in extra innings, stretching their division lead to 6.5 games, and won the trade deadline. The most notable win of it all might have been the fact that the Dodgers did nothing to address their bullpen woes, so that gap between them and the Braves got a whole lot closer. Hopefully, Braves Country has put down their pitchforks and finally trusts their outstanding general manager.