I’ve said it for a while now, but these next ten days will determine whether the Braves are buyers or sellers. Today, they wrap up a three-game series against the Padres with a double-header. They then hit the road for the next eight games versus division rivals. The Phillies come first before a critical series with the first-place Mets — both teams are currently ahead of the Braves in the division. If Atlanta goes well under .500 over that stretch, it’s unlikely they can justify buying and will likely end up selling whatever they can. However, if they find a way to make up some ground, they could be one of the most aggressive teams at the trade deadline.
With that being said, this article will focus on if things go south, leading to a fire sale ahead of July 31st. We’ve covered plenty of buying situations and will continue to, but we also have to look at selling possibilities. The Braves don’t have much to trade away, but they do have a couple of pieces that should entice competing teams — more specifically, Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly.
After an up and down start for Morton, he’s settled in and become the ace of the Braves staff since mid-May. In his last 11 starts, Morton is 6-1 with a 2.86 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .181 against him, and he’s struck out 78 batters in 66 innings. This is who the Braves expected they were getting when they signed him to a one-year, $18 million contract, and he might be the best pitcher on the move come the trade deadline. If Atlanta doesn’t plan on re-signing Morton, it would behoove them to get some prospects for him before letting him walk for free.
Smyly won’t bring back nearly as much in return, but he should still have several suitors after the way he’s pitched over the last couple of months. Since giving up seven earned runs to Boston on May 29th, Smyly hasn’t given up more than three runs in his eight starts since, leading to a very respectable 3.02 ERA. His track record isn’t nearly as impressive as Morton’s, but there will be plenty of teams looking to round out their rotations with affordable options like Smyly.
Outside of Morton and Smyly, though, the Braves don’t have much to offer the rest of the league. Perhaps a team wants to acquire someone like Will Smith or Chris Martin, but the return would be minimal. The Braves would probably do it just to get rid of their respective contracts.
Pretty much every team will be looking for starting pitching at the deadline, but the Dodgers might be the most desperate. They are constantly in championship or bust mode, have the prospects to pull off any deal (their farm system is ranked #9 by Baseball America), and have a glaring need for starting pitching.
There might be no better proof of baseball’s unpredictability than the fact that it’s July and the Dodgers are in desperate need for starting pitching.
— Alden González (@Alden_Gonzalez) July 20, 2021
Trevor Bauer may not return for the rest of the season, and Clayton Kershaw is on the IL with elbow pain. The Dodgers are one more issue away from having a serious problem, so you can expect them to be extremely active at the trade deadline, looking for at least one starting pitcher.
Charlie Morton would round out their rotation perfectly, even if Kershaw does return to form. Morton has plenty of experience on the biggest stage and is pitching as well as anybody at the moment. If the Braves do end up selling, I expect them to have plenty of conversations with the Dodgers; however, let’s hope it never comes to that.