The July 31 trade deadline has been part of baseball in its current form since 1986 (before then, it was on June 15 every year), and since then, there have been countless blockbuster deals, giving teams the extra oomph as they contend down the regular season stretch. For the Braves, there have been many questionable moves made at the deadline (like when they traded Mark Teixeira to the Angels in 2008) though also some beneficial ones (like when Atlanta acquired Fred McGriff from the Padres in 1993). Over the last 35 years, I’m sure we could find a pretty comparable number of both good and bad Braves trade deadline acquisitions.
But in 2021, GM Alex Anthopoulos has certainly added to the beneficial pile, because the Braves absolutely wouldn’t be where they are today without the moves made back in July.
|7/15||Joc Pederson (OF)||Acquired from Cubs|
|7/17||Stephen Vogt (C)||Acquired from D’Backs|
|7/30||Jorge Soler (OF)||Acquired from Royals|
|7/30||Adam Duvall (OF)||Acquired from Marlins|
|7/30||Richard Rodríguez (RHP)||Acquired from Pirates|
|7/30||Eddie Rosario (OF)||Acquired from Indians|
In the month of July this season, Atlanta acquired six different players via trade. Some were, of course, more significant pieces than others; but all in all, the Braves GM completely revamped the team’s outfield, plus added a back-up catcher AND a strong relief arm. The reinforcements not only shored up a few weaknesses, but they also spurred a change-of-direction for the club altogether as Atlanta finished the second-half of the 2021 season with a .611 winning percentage (compared to a .494-mark in the first-half).
And, of course, the fruits of Anthopoulos’ labor this past mid-season has continued to positively impact the Braves, even after the team clinched its fourth consecutive division title. So far in the playoffs, several of July’s acquisitions have been integral to Atlanta’s success.
|Duvall||4 G, .286 AVG, 3B, BB|
|Rosario||4 G, .308 AVG, 2 RBI|
|Pederson||4 G, .429 AVG, 2 HR, 5 RBI|
|Duvall||2 G, .167 AVG|
|Rosario||2 G, .556 AVG, RBI, SB|
|Pederson||2 G, .286 AVG, HR, 2 RBI|
Pederson has already shown us that Joctober can also be a thing in Atlanta, as he led the Braves to their 3-0 win in Game 3 of their NLDS matchup with the Brewers. The former Dodger also worked his magic in Sunday’s win over LA, when he crushed a 450+ foot homer off Max Scherzer to tie things up in the fourth inning.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) October 18, 2021
Of course, Rosario was the hero last night. After hitting well in the Division Series versus Milwaukee, the former Indian has earned a spot atop Atlanta’s lineup in this series against LA. Rosario has not only played much better defense so far in the postseason, but the 30-year-old also gave the Braves their 2-0 series lead when he slapped the walk-off hit on Sunday.
THE BRAVES GOT EDDIE ROSARIO FOR A DUGOUT MASCOT!!
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) October 18, 2021
After finishing the regular season with a 6.75 ERA in 9.1 innings, Rodríguez didn’t make either the DS or LCS rosters, but he was tough as nails throughout the month of August. And though Duvall hasn’t done much at the plate against LA, he was in fact one of the top contributors versus Milwaukee, ending that quartet of games tied for second in hits on the team with four. And regardless, we know how quickly Duvall can get hot on offense.
So while there are definitely a few aspects of this team that you could call worrisome (like Freddie Freeman‘s cold spell and the lack of a trustworthy fourth starter), the Braves are in a much better position than it was nearly three months ago. The moves Anthopoulos made may not be the splashiest in Atlanta’s trade deadline history, but they’ve been incredibly critical to the team’s success in 2021, and as we’ve seen so far in the playoffs, they should continue to pay dividends.
Thanks for reading about why the Braves trade deadline acquisitions are taking over the postseason. If you liked this article, make sure to check out Chase Irle’s recent piece on why this year’s NLCS feels different than last year’s.