After a lot of fans (myself included) and national media members pinned the Braves as potential sellers at the trade deadline, they were the team that kicked off the festivities with a bang — and a solid move at that. I think Bryce Ball will be a great player, but he doesn’t fit Atlanta’s timeline right now, especially if the team extends Freddie Freeman. I think he could be Chicago’s first baseman of the future after Rizzo, but this article isn’t about them. Alex Anthopoulos has made moves like this before; some have paid off, some have not. Pederson has a mutual option for $10 million next season, but the Braves clearly made a win-now acquisition. So, I figured I’d break down some similar players on these shorter deals that Alex Anthopoulos could be interested in going into the trade deadline. I’ll be doing the National League next, so keep an eye out for that.
Jonathan Schoop, Detroit Tigers
I think Schoop will be a very underrated piece that many teams will covet at the deadline, as he has had a fantastic 2021 after a slow start. He’s on a one-year, $4.5 million deal, and he should pay dividends for Detroit in a trade. The Braves struck a deal for Shane Greene two trade deadlines ago, so could they go back to the well with the Tigers? A Curacao native like Ozzie Albies, Schoop could be the perfect bench bat for the Braves. He has clubbed 16 home runs and is hitting .312 over the past month. The only problem is, losing those consistent at-bats may cool him off significantly. The Braves can’t afford to overpay for a rental like that.
Gregory Soto, Detroit Tigers
Soto is a bit of an exception to the contract requirement of this article, but I’ll make an exception since I think he could be a fit. The Braves acquired an All-Star relief pitcher from Detroit in Shane Greene a couple of years ago. Soto, like Greene, was never a lockdown relief arm before 2021. He’s not exactly infallible now either, posting a 3.00 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP. However, he’s still an upgrade over what the Braves currently have. The price would have to be right.
Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals
I thought about including Merrifield’s teammate Salvador Perez here, but he just signed a massive extension to stay in Kansas City. Merrifield is on one of the best contracts in all of baseball, but his versatility and well-rounded play is why I have him targeted here. Merrifield has been a popular trade target among Braves fans, and I still think he makes sense. He would bring a lot of consistency to this Atlanta lineup.
Andrew Benintendi, Kansas City Royals
I talked about trading for Benintendi before the Royals acquired him from the Red Sox, and with Marcell Ozuna absent for the foreseeable future, I think the trade makes even more sense now. Benintendi has one more season of team control, and he’s posting a .762 OPS with ten bombs and seven steals.
Nick Solak, Texas Rangers
Solak has been slumping lately, but he has a bit of pop in his bat and can play all over the field. I think he would be a great bench piece for the Braves, especially if they can get him at a decent price. Solak is pre-arbitration, so he makes a lot of sense.
Ian Kennedy, Texas Rangers
Once a mid-rotation starter, Ian Kennedy has revived his career as a shutdown relief arm. He has pitched 30.1 innings in 2021 recording a 2.67 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. In 30 appearances, he has 15 saves and has blown just one. Kennedy is only on a one-year deal, so he would be a true rental.
Kyle Gibson, Texas Rangers
Gibson has had a pretty average career up to this point, but he has been fantastic in 2021. Over 17 starts, Gibson is 6-1 with a 2.29 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Gibson has one more year of control at a reasonable price — $7,000,000. He could be a solid piece of the rotation that can eat innings if he can keep up what he has done so far.
Taylor Rogers, Minnesota Twins
Rogers is another guy with one more year of control beyond 2021, but he has been considered at times to be one of the best lefty relievers in all of baseball. He has gotten roughed up over the past month, especially the last week, but he would instantly be an impact arm for this Braves bullpen.
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