ESPN names Braves player most likely to be traded

Spencer Schwellenbach Braves hat

With so many players on the IL, the trade deadline is already a popular talking point among Braves circles. Will this be the year Alex Anthopoulos aggressively pursues a frontline starter in-season? It hasn’t happened yet, but losing your ace in early April changes things.

Over at ESPN, David Schoenfield is already starting the trade deadline conversation for all 30 teams, with his first article focusing on the players most likely to be traded from each organization. For the Braves, it’s 2022 first-round pick Owen Murphy.

Atlanta Braves

Trade candidate: Owen Murphy

The Spencer Strider injury points to one potential trade direction: starting pitching. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel ranked the Braves’ farm system just 28th entering the season, however, so any deal for a decent starter would likely be a 3-for-1 type of transaction. The team’s only top-100 prospect is pitcher Hurston Waldrep, who looked like a potential midseason call-up but allowed 11 hits and seven runs in his first start in Double-A, so maybe not. Murphy was the No. 20 pick in 2022 and will likely have to improve his velocity to become an impact starter, but he came out of the gate with 6⅔ scoreless innings in High-A and was an athletic two-way player in high school.

The issue for the Braves when it comes to the trade deadline is what are they willing to give up to win now. The Braves farm system is one of the worst in baseball due to graduations, trades, and previous international signing restrictions. They’ve all taken their toll. The Braves do have enough prospect capital to pull off pretty much any trade they desire, but I’m not sure they have any interest in trading AJ Smith-Shawver or Hurston Waldrep.

That’s why moving off Owen Murphy would make some sense if it brought back a significant contributor, but even that may not interest Alex Anthopoulos. The Braves roster is capable of competing for a World Series as currently constructed, and Murphy, even though he’s younger, is still a top-five prospect in the organization. The 20-year-old is off to a fantastic start this season, recording a 0.75 ERA with 16 strikeouts over 12 innings in High-A Rome.

The Braves have next to no talent in the lower levels of the minors. Moving Murphy would make it that much worse, but it’s the price of doing business if Alex Anthopoulos wants to give his team the best chance to win right now.

Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire

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