The Braves are now 5 games back of the Mets for first place in the NL East. It sounds ugly, and it is, but there is still plenty of time for this team to turn it around and make a run at their fourth consecutive division title. However, for that to happen, they likely will have to make a significant addition before the trade deadline, possibly a few. I don’t expect that to happen over the next couple of weeks, but if the Braves are still contending in July, trades will be made.
Braves beat writer for The Athletic, David O’Brien, recently collaborated with Jim Bowden to discuss some potential trades for Atlanta. O’Brien put together five hypothetical trades that he deemed fair, gave his reasoning, and then Bowden — a national MLB writer — gave his opinion of the deals. In this article, I’ll be playing the role of Bowden, judging the Braves’ haul and whether the trade is realistic or not.
Diamondbacks Trade: Ketel Marte
Ketel Marte would be the blockbuster trade needed to bounce back from the loss of Marcell Ozuna. He can play all over the outfield and even in the infield if need be, but that versatility is just icing on the cake. The reason the Braves would be trading for him is his offense and contract. Marte finished 4th in the NL MVP voting in 2019, thanks to a .329 average with 32 homers. His power numbers are a little down this season (only four homers in 31 games), but Marte is still hitting a ridiculous .347 with a .916 OPS. However, his contract may be even more enticing to the Braves than his offensive numbers. He’ll be owed a pro-rated salary of $6 million this year, $8 million in 2022, and then has club options for 2023 and 2024 that are worth a total of $22 million.
All of that sounds exactly what the Braves need, but in reality, Marte, along with his contract situation, is every team’s dream, which will make him expensive prospect-wise. The Diamondbacks may be one of the worst teams we’ve ever seen, so they have to do their due diligence on all potential trades; however, there’s no rush to move their only star player unless they receive a king’s ransom. Waters is a fantastic prospect, but I think it will take a little more to pry Marte away from Arizona.
Pirates Trade: Richard Rodriguez and Bryan Reynolds
The Braves kill two birds in one stone in this hypothetical trade. In Rodriguez, they get their closer that can shut things down in the 9th and also bump everyone up an inning, which is just as valuable. He has a 1.71 ERA in 26.1 innings this season, and his 1.99 FIP suggests he isn’t benefiting from any luck; Rodriguez is that good and is under team control through 2023. Reynolds finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year race in 2019, and after a miserable 2020, he’s bounced back in a big way this season. He’s already recorded 2.7 bWAR, thanks to an .897 OPS, and he very well could find himself in the All-Star Game. On top of that, Reynolds is under team control through 2025.
Of all the trades O’Brien came up with, this is the one I liked the most that I also found realistic. Bowden even said, “If I’m the Pirates, I make that deal so fast your head would spin.” However, I like this deal for the Braves. They get two proven players at positions of need that are controllable for several years, which is what it would take for them to part with a prospect of Drew Waters’ caliber.
Twins Trade: Jose Berrios
I mean no offense to David O’Brien when I say this, but this looks like one of those trades a Braves fan sends me on Twitter. There’s no way the Twins would accept this. Berrios may not be an ace, but he has one more year of control and has proven to be a solid mid-rotation option, posting a 3.49 ERA in 13 starts this season. Starting pitching is so expensive at the trade deadline, so it would take much more than this to acquire Berrios, who also has one more year of control left on his deal. Given Toussaint and Camargo’s lengthy struggles at the major-league level, they would bring back next to nothing in return by themselves.
Orioles Trade: Trey Mancini
Braves Trade: Johan Camargo, Kyle Wright, Logan Brown
In my opinion, this is another unbelievably one-sided trade. Mancini is a leader in the Baltimore clubhouse and a fan favorite because he’s one of the few bright spots on the team. He’s already mashed 12 homers this year to go along with a .277 average after hitting 35 homers in 2019, and like the rest of the players on this list, he has one more year of control after this season. This would be a terrific get for the Braves, but they’d have to give up much more than this. Camargo and Logan Brown are essentially useless in trade packages, especially to rebuilding teams, and Kyle Wright’s value has plummeted. I would be shocked if the Orioles accepted this.
Braves Trade: Kyle Wright, Jasseel De La Cruz, Johan Camargo, and Logan Brown
This is a deal I love for the Braves. Haniger has struggled with injuries over the last couple of seasons, but he’s played in 66 games this season and been fantastic, slugging 16 homers and 15 doubles to go along with a .259 average — good for 1.5 bWAR. He also comes with one more year of control. Graveman has been a lights-out closer for the Mariners, posting a 0.96 ERA over 18.2 innings. However, the sample size is small, and he has a career 4.30 ERA, including a 5.79 mark during the shortened 2020 campaign. Graveman is also a free agent next season, so this is essentially the Mariners cashing in on one of their hottest players before the deadline.
Given how long the Mariners have held on to Haniger, I’m not totally convinced they’d accept this package, but it’s pretty fair. De La Cruz is a top-ten prospect in the organization, and there’s still some upside with Kyle Wright. This is one of the more equal trades O’Brien came up with.