The Athletic presents “difference-making trade” hypothetical for Braves

MLB: APR 23 Orioles at Angels

The Braves are back to their winning ways, claiming victory in eight of their last ten games, as the offense begins to find its footing. However, the need for help ahead of the trade deadline, particularly when it comes to the outfield, remains overwhelmingly apparent. Alex Anthopoulos is not going to sit on his hands over the next six weeks. Moves are coming.

Over at The Athletic, MLB insider Jim Bowden recently came up with a “difference-making trade” for all ten teams that are currently bunched up in the National League Wild Card race, and his one for the Braves has them addressing their most pressing need in a pretty significant way, acquiring outfielder Taylor Ward and left-handed pitcher Patrick Sandoval from the Angels.

The Braves have lost Ronald Acuña Jr. and Spencer Strider to season-ending injuries, leaving them with holes in right field and in the starting rotation. They could really use another outfield corner bat, and Ward, who’s batting .240/.324/.421 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs, is one of the best who could be available. The Braves are hoping one of their young pitchers steps up and takes the fifth spot in their rotation, but why not add another veteran starter to improve depth and protect against second-half injuries in the rotation? If healthy, Sandoval could be a good fit. Sandoval, 27, last year logged a 4.11 ERA over 28 starts and this year has a 5.08 ERA in 15 starts, although he left his last outing in the third inning and landed on the injured list with an elbow strain (so Atlanta would need to be satisfied with his health before making this deal). A change of scenery should help both Ward and Sandoval, who are under team control through 2026.

I’ve talked on multiple occasions about the Angels being ideal trade partners for the Braves. Taylor Ward is one of several potential outfield fixes Los Angeles could offer Atlanta, which also include Luis Rengifo, Kevin Pillar, and Jo Adell. Among them, Ward probably makes the most sense, and he’s under control for several seasons, which should entice the Braves even more because the future health of Ronald Acuña Jr. is unknown. Surely, the Braves would like to use Acuña often as a DH next season coming off the second torn ACL of his career.

I’m not sure Alex Anthopoulos needs to go out and acquire another starting pitcher. Spencer Schwellenbach has really shown some chops over his last two starts, and the rest of the rotation has been outstanding. Beyond that, AJ Smith-Shawver will return to action over the next month or so, and Ian Anderson could even make an impact later in the year. However, as we all know, organizations can never have enough pitching. Sandoval would be a decent addition for depth purposes.

As far as what the Angels would get in return from the Braves, here is what Bowden had to say. 

In return, the Angels would get Kuehler, a second-round pick last year, who has posted a 2.52 ERA in 11 starts for Low-A Augusta. In addition, they’d land Guanipa, 18, who profiles as an everyday center fielder with blazing speed, and has the potential to become a legitimate leadoff hitter.

I actually really like both prospects Bowden has going back to the Angels in this deal. They aren’t anywhere close to the major-league level but are oozing with potential. However, if the Braves are going to make a move of this magnitude ahead of the trade deadline, they must be willing to part ways with guys like these. I could see a trade like this coming to fruition for the Braves in the coming months.

Photographer: John Cordes/Icon Sportswire


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