While the Braves’ win streak was extended to an impressive 12 games last night, there’s not too much to celebrate about. Star second baseman Ozzie Albies sustained a left foot fracture that will likely keep him out a while.
Ozzie Albies left tonight’s game in the fifth inning after he fractured his left foot.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) June 14, 2022
Obviously, this is a significant loss for Atlanta — Albies is an annual Gold Glove candidate, and he’s one of the best in the game at racking up base knocks as well. There’s no way the Braves will be able to replace what he brings to the table completely, but here’s where they might turn from here.
Atlanta has a very capable stopgap in Orlando Arcia, but if he takes over as the full-time starter, they’ll need to add another infielder to the roster. This is where it gets thin quickly. The 40-man has only two options, Kramer Robertson and Travis Demeritte, who has played second base in the minors. Joe Dunand, Ryan Goins, Hernan Perez, and Pat Valaika are all other options. Room could be made for them if the Braves place Albies on the 60-day IL; however, all of the players mentioned above have been abysmal at the plate. If Albies is to miss the rest of the season, or most of it, could Alex Anthopoulos look for a trade?
Infield depth is a major concern now that Albies is down, and I couldn’t stand to see one of the aforementioned players starting if Arcia or Swanson were to get injured. A trade would be smart, but keep two critical criteria in mind: the player should ideally be a free agent after the season (unless he’s a bench piece that would be viable for longer), and the cost should be kept to a minimum. So, who are some potential options?
I wrote about this exact trade earlier this year. Plus, with the poor results that Tony Kemp has seen this season in Oakland, the cost to acquire him is likely lower than ever. The 30-year-old’s .268 BABIP points to some terrible luck, and although he’s towards the bottom of the league in barrels and hard hit percentage, power just isn’t Kemp’s forte. The speedy player uses elite plate discipline to get on base, and once he’s on base, the steal sign is on. Pair that with three Outs Above Average at second base this year, and you have a more than serviceable bench player.
Kemp is also controlled through 2024. He can play outfield or infield, making him a valuable asset in worst case scenarios. If the price is right, I’d definitely love this move.
Adam Frazier is in a very similar spot to Kemp, experiencing a miserable .260 BABIP. He’s a much better player than he has been this year, and the Braves could buy low on his services. Frazier is a prime candidate to see regression to the mean; his expected slugging and batting average are both far higher than the totals he has seen. A change of scenery should do him wonders. Similarly to Kemp, the Mariners second baseman has accrued three Outs Above Average at the position as well.
With Seattle 10 games off of the division lead, and also having Dylan Moore and Abraham Toro as replacements, trading Frazier seems like a foregone conclusion. Jerry Dipoto loves wheeling and dealing, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like this happen.
Trading for a utility player or second baseman would be a smart move, especially if it comes in the form of a left-handed bat like Kemp or Frazier. This would essentially allow for a potential platoon of Arcia and a lefty bat, which would be one of the best options available for the Braves.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire