With just five days until the trade deadline, the Braves sit five games back in the NL East with five games upcoming against the division-leading Mets. Hopefully, those fives provide some luck because if the Braves can’t gain some momentum in New York, they likely can’t justify buying at the trade deadline. However, if they can keep things competitive, they might be one of the more aggressive teams over the next few days.
Recently, as a part of ESPN’s coverage of the trade deadline, Buster Olney wrote that executives around the league believe the NL East teams chasing the Mets will be active buyers leading up to July 31st.
This has been noted by rival executives: The three teams chasing the New York Mets in the National League East — the Philadelphia Phillies, the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals — are all led by baseball ops chiefs who are historically aggressive in adding to their rosters in-season.
Alex Anthopoulos, the Braves’ GM, has already added outfielder Joc Pedersonand catcher Stephen Vogt, and knows that catcher Travis d’Arnaud and pitcher Huascar Ynoa will be back in the middle of August. The Phillies’ Dave Dombrowski has a long history of deal-making in his years with the Expos, Marlins, Tigers and Red Sox — and typically, a lot of his in-season trades have worked out for his teams, like the Tigers’ acquisition of Doug Fister. And the Nationals are fronted by Mike Rizzo, whose bullpen additions helped to turn his 2019 team from an early-season disaster to the world champions.
One evaluator said: “They can all see how [vulnerable] the Mets are.”
Now eight games back in the division, Washington likely can no longer justify buying at the deadline. I expect them to sell, and it’s possible they commit to a full rebuild by dealing Max Scherzer and Trea Turner.
On the other hand, the Phillies and Braves could be extremely aggressive. Philadelphia is only four games back; with such a large payroll, they have every reason to go all-in at the trade deadline. The Braves may not be as committed to this season, given they have their talent locked up for the foreseeable future, but with Huascar Ynoa and Travis d’Arnaud scheduled to come back next month, they may feel like they have enough firepower to catch the Mets, who haven’t exactly looked impressive recently.
I’m hesitant to believe the Braves will go all-in while trailing in the division by five games and with Ronald Acuña out for the season. However, that might change if Atlanta finds some success in New York. If they can somehow win four out of five against the Mets, they may not have a choice but to add to their roster.