Jim Bowden names Braves early trade deadline needs

Braves trade deadline Alex Anthopoulos

As we get into the thick of June, trade deadline talk around the league really begins to heat up, and around this time next month, we may even see some deals starting to come to fruition.

Expecting anything sooner than that is rather foolish. Most teams have zero interest in selling this early in the season, and the ones that know they will be selling also are aware that better deals could be had closer to the trade deadline. For the now, the Braves are stuck with what they have, but everyone expects Alex Anthopoulos to be very aggressive in the coming months.

For what, then becomes the question. A question Jim Bowden recently addressed in his latest piece for The Athletic in which he placed all 30 teams into three different tiers — the buyers, the sellers, and the ones in between. 

Of course, the Atlanta Braves fell into the buyers category, along with 16 other teams.

The Braves will try to overcome the losses of two of the sport’s best after ace Spencer Strider and reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. suffered season-ending injuries. They have fallen 6 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the division but sit atop the NL wild-card standings. To get back to the playoffs, they will need the trio of Ozzie Albies, Matt Olson and Austin Rileyto step up in the lineup and their starting pitchers to stay healthy and deliver. Remember, the Braves lost Acuña to season-ending ACL surgery three years ago and twon the World Series, so it’s still possible.

The biggest takeaway from Bowden’s piece isn’t the Braves landing in the buyers category. Everybody is already aware of that because of all of the injuries to the roster. It’s that 17 of 30 teams right now are considered buyers, with seven being considered “in between.” That leaves only seven for sure sellers, which isn’t great news for a team like the Braves, who need to add multiple pieces ahead of the trade deadline and don’t have a ton of prospect capital at their disposal.

That’s what happens with the expanded playoffs. Teams don’t want to punt on the season, knowing they could be just one hot streak away from sneaking into the postseason. From there, they know anything can happen, as we’ve seen each year since the playoffs expanded.

The postseason went to six teams in each league two years ago, and in both seasons since, the sixth seed in the National League has gone on to make the World Series. Teams aren’t going to conduct fire sales anymore unless they have no chance at making the playoffs.

As far as the Braves early trade deadline needs, Bowden highlighted the obvious — outfield and starting pitching. 

Early trade deadline needs: The Braves will look to acquire a fourth outfielder type to mix and match on the corners with Adam Duvall and Jarred Kelenic. They’ll also look to trade for a starting pitcher if Spencer Schwellenbach, AJ Smith-Shawver (IL), Ian Anderson (minors) and/or Hurston Waldrep (minors) can’t take the fifth spot by the end of July.

With Ronald Acuña Jr. out for the season, there’s little doubt the Braves will bring in a fourth outfielder, even if Adam Duvall and Jarred Kelenic go crazy. I would argue they should even bring in two. Depth is an issue for this team, and things would get incredibly dicey if another one of their outfielders were to go on the IL.

Adding another starting pitcher is more of a luxury. The Braves have four really good ones, and while the fifth spot is a revolving door, that’s the case for most teams. On top of that, internal options like Spencer Schwellenbach, Hurston Waldrep, Ian Anderson, and AJ Smith-Shawver are potential answers to that problem. The Braves would love to bolster the rotation in some form or fashion, but starting pitching has always been incredibly pricey at the trade deadline, and that will be the case again this year with so few teams selling.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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