Braves offseason trade targets: Eugenio Suarez

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Alright. Let’s take a deep breath. Monday was a big day.

The baseball world exploded as San Diego traded for their second ace in two days. Not even 24 hours after acquiring Blake Snell, the Padres made a splash in Chicago, moving Zach Davies and four prospects for Cy Young contender Yu Darvish.

Say what you will, but it looks like the Braves will have a lot more competition than just the Dodgers next October; not that the Padres weren’t competition before, mind you. They just happened to add a former Cy Young winner and another all-star to an already horrifying lineup.

Anyway, now that the dust has settled and heart rates have gone down, the focus turns to the remaining 29 clubs. With the Padres snagging two of the top trade chips, the rest of the league is under the spotlight; who will make the next big move?

If you’re the Braves, you’re looking to either bring back Marcell Ozuna or find a proven enough power bat to replace him in the cleanup spot, whether the potential void is filled in the outfield or at the hot corner.

Yes. I said the hot corner.

The Looming Problem

Now, before I’m run out of town (figuratively), let me clarify: I know Riley is at third, and I think he will do a splendid job moving forward if that’s the direction Alex Anthopoulos decides to go.

Riley is continuing to find his stride on the biggest stage. He’s working through the pitches he struggled with the most, and the results showed last season. While his stats didn’t paint the picture of vast improvement, it was still evident.

If you saw his approach at the plate, you noticed how he not only keeps his hands in on the pitch inside, but he also started keeping his head centered and level. His swing generated a lot of power in his debut season, but he was whiffing on many pitches because he would yank his head up when he swung.

Home runs are one thing; consistent hits and producing when it counts is an entirely different beast. As soon as the consistency sticks and he couples it with his defense, then the Braves will have their bonafide third baseman.

Riley deserves more time; I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t look at every viable option.

Eugenio Suarez

I think I talked too much about how scary the Padres look. They’re not the only anxiety-inducing forces in baseball right now. I don’t think any pitcher goes on the mound thinking, “Wow, I sure wish I could pitch to Suarez today.”

Suarez broke out in 2017, following two very productive seasons after being traded to the Reds by the Tigers. He rose up with one specialty: punishing any baseball that came his way.

Suarez’s game tells us one thing: he loves driving in runs. Since his arrival to Cincy in 2015, he’s smacked 158 HR and 445 RBIs. To say his production is getting the Reds as far as they’ve gone is an understatement; it’s almost like his bat is attracted to the ball.

It should be noted that Suarez is also controllable until 2024, so if the Braves do decide to go that route, then they’d have a significant power bat behind the reigning MVP for a considerable amount of time.

Especially seeing how the universal DH is being strongly discussed after the 2021 season, trading for Suarez makes even more sense. He would play third for 2021, Riley could fine-tune his game, and then they’re both in the lineup in 2022. It seems a BIT far-fetched, I know, but there aren’t a ton of options to turn to if Alex Anthopoulos cannot re-sign Marcell Ozuna. 

“But Andrew, you just said…”

I know I just said that getting on base and hitting the ball where it needs to go is more important than home runs.

That’s not a problem for Suarez.

If you look at his stats over the last five years, you’ll notice his average sits at .268 along that stretch. While that number, as well as his career average (.261) isn’t an extravagantly high figure, it’s well above the margin for specialty power hitters like Sano (career .214) and Gallo (.208).

Suarez is a proven, consistent power bat and RBI machine. While his average sat at an abysmal .202 in the shortened season, his power only seemed to go up, as he launched 15 HR and 38 RBI over 57 games.

Well, Now What?

Now, we wait.

The back-to-back blockbusters in San Diego will inevitably turn the stove up even hotter. We may not see it immediately, but many more teams will start making moves soon. It almost feels like we’re in the eye of a hurricane; it’s a little too calm. Hopefully, the new year will bring some fireworks with it. 

To stay up to date on any and all Braves transactions that may happen once we’re out of the eye, stay logged on to SportsTalkATL.

Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire

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