Of course, this isn’t what any Braves want to hear, and Atlanta is certainly not out of the playoff race with over three months of baseball to play. However, when you consider the Braves’ poor record to this point and their current roster construction, it almost seems more likely that they turn out to be sellers at the trade deadline rather than buyers. This team hasn’t been good all season long, and the injuries continue to pile up. If they can’t start to string together wins here soon, it might be time to wave the white flag by the time the trade deadline arrives. The Braves don’t have a ton of pieces that could garner much value on the trade block, but there are a few that should attract the attention of teams with more legitimate playoff aspirations.
d’Arnaud is currently on the 60-day IL after tearing a ligament in his thumb last month. That certainly complicates a potential trade, but this is one of the better offensive catchers in the game, and he’s scheduled to return in August. I don’t think the Braves would get very much for him, and his medicals would have to check out, but he should garner at least some interest at the trade deadline.
Swanson is one of the most confusing players I’ve ever watched. He looks like one of the best shortstops in the game for stretches, but overall, he’s just been an average player for his entire career. I’m not sure the Braves would move on from him, given his value isn’t very high right now and he shouldn’t cost too much in his third and final year of arbitration, but if a team put together a good enough package, the Braves would have to consider it.
Of all the names in this article, Morton is easily the most likely to be moved before the trade deadline. He’s a veteran with loads of playoff experience on a one-year contract that has found his groove over the last month or so. In his last two starts, Morton has 18 strikeouts in 14.2 shutout innings. If the Braves are out of it at the trade deadline, Morton will be moved, and he should bring back a decent prospect or two in return.
Simply writing this makes me feel nauseous, but I have to mention the possibility at least. Freeman is in a contract year, and while I believe he is willing to take a hometown discount of some sort, the longer this goes on, the scarier the situation gets. If Freeman hits the open market, which is where it looks like this is heading, I’m not sure he will be able to ignore some of the gigantic offers he will receive from teams like the Angels. The Braves likely already know if they can make a competitive offer this offseason, and if the answer is no, trading Freeman might actually be in the cards.
If the Braves become sellers, all their relievers should be available. Although, given how abysmal the bullpen has been, I don’t think there will be many interested clubs. One name that could pique the interest of some teams is Will Smith. He has a track record of success and hasn’t been completely awful this season. If the Braves could rid the $14 million left on his contract, it should be viewed as a win.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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