Braves newest trade acquisition comments on joining World Series favorites

MLB: JUL 08 Royals at Guardians

The Braves are World Series favorites, and it’s not particularly close.

FanGraphs has Atlanta’s odds sitting around 25% to raise the Commissioner’s Trophy with the Rays and Dodgers trailing by more than half. It’s a loaded offense that is on a historic pace, and the pitching staff is only getting better as the club welcomes back the best lefty on the planet in Max Fried.

It’s great being in Braves Country, but imagine being a player joining the World Series favorites. That’s exactly what happens at the trade deadline, and Nicky Lopez is the most recent acquisition to reflect on leaving a club in the dumpsters (Royals) to the class of baseball.

Lopez was brought to Atlanta for one reason — defense.

He’s a super utility player that has appeared at every position in the majors except catcher. He’s an elite defender at third base, shortstop, and second base. For Kansas City in 2021, he ranked 11th among all position players with 6.0 fWAR as the club’s primary shortstop. He hit .300 with a .744 OPS to go along with 22 stolen bases.

However, Braves fans shouldn’t expect that guy. For much of his career, Lopez has been a below-average offensive player, batting around .225 in 2019-2020 and in 2023. Atlanta isn’t expecting him to be anything more than a defensive substitute and high-floor reserve that can back up every position on the diamond.

Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the success the Braves organization has had in getting the absolute most out of players struggling offensively. This trade reminds me a lot of the one that brought Orlando Arcia to Atlanta a couple of years ago. His defense was great, but his bat always left a bit to be desired. Now, he’s the starting shortstop on the best team in baseball, got his first All-Star nod, and is batting around .300 with a .789 OPS.

We shouldn’t expect a similar path for Nicky Lopez, but it shouldn’t be ruled out either.

Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire

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