Is a blockbuster trade on the table for the Braves at the trade deadline?

Braves Alex Anthopoulos

The Braves’ approach ahead of the trade deadline has changed significantly since the start of the season because of injuries to their two best players, Spencer Strider and Ronald Acuña Jr.

Somewhat shockingly, Atlanta’s rotation hasn’t missed a beat without Strider, thanks to a couple of outstanding offseason additions. Chris Sale seems to have found his old self in Atlanta, pitching like an All-Star again that could challenge for the NL Cy Young award. But if Sale is to win his first Cy Young, he’s going to have to beat out his teammate, Reynaldo Lopez. The MLB’s ERA leader through 13 starts has been the most impactful free agent signing in the league this season, and it’s really saved the Braves, who never could have expected this kind of output from Lopez after transitioning to a starter for the first time in a half-decade.

The offense has been a different story. While the Braves bats have shown signs of life over the last week, they were dormant for nearly a two-month stretch where they were arguably the worst offense in the spot. Things aren’t going to be that bad the entire season, but it’s evident this is a group with a lot of holes, ones that can be patched in a number of ways at the trade deadline.

It’s not a matter of if Alex Anthopoulos will buy, but rather, what aisle will he be shopping in? With the expanded playoffs, there aren’t nearly as many sellers, but as always, there will be some marquee names changing cities that can potentially alter baseball history, as we saw last year with the Texas Rangers, who were the most aggressive team at the trade deadline, making several blockbuster acquisitions.

But those aren’t the type of deals I expect Alex Anthopoulos to be searching for at the trade deadline. As always, general managers are constantly balancing the cost of winning now and what it could mean in the future. A lot of teams have made franchise-altering mistakes chasing things when they shouldn’t, and Alex Anthopoulos knows that as well as anyone.

“Consider the 2015 Blue Jays,” Ken Rosenthal writes for The Athletic. “They sure looked “all-in,” acquiring shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, left-hander David Price, outfielder Ben Lowe and reliever Mark Lowe in separate trades. But even that year, their general manager at the time, Alex Anthopoulos, resisted several other offers for top prospects while saving money to land 16-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the international market.”

Anthopoulos has been doing this for a long time. He made a lot of mistakes in Toronto being a little bit too aggressive, and while that aggressiveness will always be a part of who he is as a general manager, he’s learned how to harness it since coming to Atlanta.

The Braves have a very bright young core that should be in the mix to win the World Series every season for many years to come. There is absolutely no reason to jeopardize that by shaking things up in a significant way and going all-in on a season where the Braves are without their two best players.

The World Series could very well return to Atlanta in 2024. We saw them do the unthinkable in 2021 without Ronald Acuña Jr., but they didn’t do it by making blockbuster trades. Expect Anthopoulos to operate in a similar manner this trade deadline.

Photo: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire


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