The Braves are World Champions, but there’s always room for improvement. Before anything happens, it seems that the Braves will need to re-sign Freddie Freeman before they evaluate any trades. Freeman has already rejected one offer from the Braves, but I’m still confident that a deal gets done. I’m not specifically advocating for each of these trades, but they’re worth a thought as the Braves look to repeat as World Champions. This is a solid free agent market, and the Braves have all of the pieces to compete. Still, we all know Alex Anthopoulos isn’t afraid to make a big move to improve the team.
OF Bryan Reynolds & C Jacob Stallings
This is a trade that I will advocate for. Reynolds is one of the best players in the National League, and the Braves have the pieces to get a deal done with the Pirates. Not only did Reynolds slash .302/.390/.522/.912 with the Pirates in 2021 at 26 years old, he is under team control until 2026. I’m adding Jacob Stallings into the deal because he is a Gold Glove Winner at catcher and would fill the hole at backup catcher that the Braves currently have. His defensive presence and .704 OPS will play just fine, especially with a subpar free agent market for catchers.
This deal would not come cheap, but Reynolds would be a franchise center fielder for the Braves for many years to come, and Stallings could serve as a bridge catcher until 2025 if needed. With Reynolds’ 35 doubles, league-leading 8 triples, and 24 home runs — the Braves would be getting a true superstar to solidify one of the best outfields in baseball. The Braves have the stud hitting prospects and talented pitching depth the Pirates should covet, and signing a starter in free agency should alleviate some of the depth lost in the minors. If Atlanta brings back Jorge Soler and Eddie Rosario, they would have to be the favorites to repeat.
Braves Trade: OF Cristian Pache, C William Contreras, LHP Jared Shuster, RHP Freddy Tarnok, LHP Tucker Davidson, and RHP Jasseel De La Cruz
Pirates Trade: OF Bryan Reynolds & C Jacob Stallings
RHP Luis Castillo
I don’t like this trade as much, mostly because the market for starting pitchers in free agency has some great veteran options. The Reds seem to be heading for a reset, and Luis Castillo is going to be coveted by many teams. With a wicked two-seam fastball and one of the best pitches in baseball — his changeup — teams will be chomping at the bit to add Castillo. Castillo led the Majors in starts, and is a true workhorse. The Braves need that type of steady support. With Anderson, Fried, Morton, and potentially Mike Soroka — Castillo creates a true five-man rotation full of potential aces. You can make this trade knowing Castillo is under team control until 2024.
Braves Trade: LHP Kyle Muller and RHP Darius Vines
Reds Trade: RHP Luis Castillo
RHP Shane Bieber and RHP James Karinchak
Talk about an absolute blockbuster, but the Braves would kill two birds with one stone by adding a shutdown reliever and another true ace. We’ve watched the Guardians shed salary like crazy, and they could be headed for a total rebuild this offseason. That could include the 2020 Cy Young and Triple Crown winner, along with one of the better setup men in baseball. Karinchak would be buying low, as he had a bit of a down 2021 — but I like buying low. Bieber had a “down” 2021 as well, posting a 3.17 ERA after an incredible 2020 when he had a 1.63 ERA, 122 Strikeouts, 2.07 FIP, 5.4 H/9, and 14.4 K/9. Those all led the American League, and he even finished fourth in MVP voting for his efforts. Karinchak is under control until 2026, and Bieber is until 2025. I think for the cost, the Braves are better off hitting the free agent market and spending on their needs.
Braves Trade: OF Drew Waters, LHP Kyle Muller, RHP Ryan Cusick, RHP Bryce Elder, SS Vaughn Grissom, LHP Dylan Dodd, and OF Trey Harris
Guardians Trade: RHP Shane Bieber and RHP James Karinchak