Jeff Passan names his best trade fit for the Braves

MLB: JUN 09 Braves at Nationals

With Ronald Acuña Jr. out for the season, the Braves are going to add to their outfield ahead of the trade deadline. The question now surrounds whom might they target and whether will they bring in multiple guys like they did in 2021 when Acuña suffered his first torn ACL.

Adding at least two outfielders makes the most sense. Adam Duvall has been absolutely pitiful against right-handed pitching this season. He’s not an everyday guy, and while Jarred Kelenic has been among the Braves best offensive players over the last several weeks, his track record is spotty and includes a lot of lengthy slumps. Relying on him to start every day without a backup plan is incredibly risky, and what happens if Michael Harris II goes down with another injury after he returns?

One addition isn’t enough, but among the guys that could potentially be available ahead of the trade deadline, ESPN’s Jeff Passan sees Washington Nationals outfielder Lane Thomas as the best fit.

Weakness: Outfield

Best match: Lane Thomas

Ronald Acuna Jr.’s season-ending ACL tear left the Braves facing the same quandary they did in 2021: How do you replace the superstar outfielder? The answer then was: You don’t. President of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos went with the group approach that year, dealing for Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson and Adam Duvall, and wound up winning a World Series. Thomas, the 28-year-old right fielder for Washington, is this season’s all-in-one solution. As painful as it would be for Washington to send Thomas to a team it trails in its division by only six games, he is a free agent after next season. Atlanta could either keep him as an Acuna insurance policy or move him again in the winter. For the time being, the Braves know that even with their offense struggling, it’s bound to turn around at some point, and a rotation with Max Fried, Chris Sale, Charlie Morton and Reynaldo Lopez, a bullpen with six solid relievers and that lineup plus Thomas makes them every bit the October threat of the three first-place teams in the NL.

Lane Thomas is hitting .241 with eight homers and a .717 OPS over 49 games on the season, and if it feels like all of that production has come against the Braves, it’s because most of it has. In eight games versus Atlanta this year, he’s hitting .344 with two homers, three doubles, and a triple — good for an OPS north of 1.100.

Against everyone else, Lane Thomas has been rather quiet. However, he is coming off a season in which he blasted 28 homers and recorded a .783 OPS, so he’d certainly be a much-welcomed addition to Atlanta’s outfield.

But could Thomas be the entire solution? I don’t see it that way. If that’s the direction the Braves go, they’d have to be looking to add multiple pieces.

On top of that, Passan does mention whether Washington would be willing to trade Lane Thomas to the Braves, which is a more than valid concern. This is a team that is still in the playoff hunt and just six games back of Atlanta in the division. I’m not even sure the Nationals should be selling, but they certainly shouldn’t be actively attempting to trade with the Braves to make them stronger.

Lane Thomas is a decent fit for what Atlanta needs. I just don’t see the match as likely at all.

Photo: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire

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