Bradford Doolittle of ESPN recently went through all 30 teams discussing how aggressive each one will be heading into the trade deadline. He broke the clubs up into five tiers, with one being the most aggressive and five being the least. Unsurprisingly, the Braves landed in tier one.
Why they will add: The foundation of the Braves looks as rock solid as ever, with supreme performances from Ronald Acuna Jr. and Spencer Strider marking Atlanta as a prime World Series contender. Under the hood, things look a bit more uneven as a rocket-ship start to the season began to fade around the middle of May as the injuries mounted, particularly to the rotation. The Braves have maintained their perch in the NL East at least in part because their anticipated challengers (New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies) have yet to mount a consistent charge. By the deadline, the Braves should have a more fixed idea of their needs as the injured pitchers hopefully work their way back. Right now, the Braves’ team defense looks like a weakness and they have scrambled a bit in the bullpen. With injury luck, the acuity of those cracks in the mortar will be clear by late July.
The Braves look like the best team in baseball right now and are one of the few teams that can say their season was unequivocally a disappointment if they don’t win the World Series. They’ve tasted glory once recently, and their roster has only gotten better since. Anything less than a championship will feel like a failure.
Alex Anthopoulos has been notoriously active at the trade deadline every season since he took over as the general manager of the Braves. I don’t expect that to change in 2023, but I also don’t think the team will experience drastic changes, mostly because they don’t have a lot of places where upgrades are needed.
Left field looked like an area where the Braves could use another body, but with Eddie Rosario‘s recent resurgence, that feels a lot less urgent today. I wouldn’t be surprised if they added another outfield bat for good measure, but if they don’t, they should be just fine.
The health of Max Fried and Kyle Wright will likely determine a lot. The Braves rotation has been one of the best in baseball without them, but that’s likely not sustainable. They need at least one of those guys back, and Doolittle’s right. By the trade deadline, they should have a good idea if that will happen. If it doesn’t, I could see them adding another starter. However, I expect Fried to be back before then, which will be better than anything they could possibly add at the trade deadline.
The only area I feel confident the Braves will add is the bullpen. This is a group that’s been a lot better of late. Iglesias looks like the dominant closer he was a year ago, and A.J. Minter is starting to experience positive regression. However, the backend of this group leaves a lot to be desired, especially if Dylan Lee cannot return. A little overkill never hurt any team aspiring for a championship. Bullpen arms can be had for pennies at the trade deadline. Expect the Braves to add at least one reliever, if not multiple.
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