Your eyebrows may have raised a bit when you read this. Are the 66-win Padres really the best trade suitors for the Braves? Out of all the teams in the MLB?
The answer right now is most definitely yes.
With Nick Markakis now on the free agency market, the Braves have a big hole to fill in their outfield and in the lineup. Though he faltered in the season’s second half, Markakis has been the most consistent Brave not named Freddie Freeman in his four years with the team. With the Braves having long-term options fixtured across the diamond with the exception of catcher, which has already been addressed, they should look to get things right with whatever route they go to fill this hole.
The San Diego Padres have a surplus of corner outfielders, and they will need to move one, making them an enticing trade suitor for the Braves. They are also rebuilding and will likely find the Braves prospects intriguing.
The cream of the crop as far as value goes here is Franmil Reyes, who can thank Ronald Acuna Jr. for having his incredible rookie season go overshadowed. The 21-year old burst onto the scene in the season’s second half, hitting for a .280 average, 16 homers, and 31 RBI in just 87 games. Listed at 6’5″ and 275 pounds, Reyes is built like a tight end. His production is what you would expect from a big slugger: high power output but high strikeout numbers. However, with the Braves reportedly wanting to plug in Josh Donaldson at the 2-hole, Reyes could be the perfect pure power hitter to protect Freddie Freeman in the cleanup spot. He has bright days ahead, and if the Padres are really willing to move him, the Braves should make a move before it is too late. They would control Reyes until 2025 and it would give them yet another regular that is cost-controlled, which opens up other opportunities in free agency for future years.
Now, if the Braves are willing to open their checkbook, there has never been a better time to try to buy low on Wil Myers. The Padres’ late signing of Eric Hosmer last season made Myers apart of their aforementioned outfield surplus. 2018 was not an enjoyable year for the former Rookie of the Year. Myers had an injury-marred campaign which resulted in a down year. The Padres were so desperate to get him in the lineup that they even plugged him in at third base at times. We all know that he is an All-Star talent who could help the Braves. Though he would be owed $22.5 million annually from 2020-2022, he is still only under contract for $5.5 million next season, which would allow the Braves to spend some money on some short-term deals to make them more of a contender.
Last but not least, the Braves are publicly known to be looking for a reliever to boost their bullpen. Bring in Kirby Yates.
Yates is coming off an incredible season for the Padres that saw him end the year in the closer’s role. Yates has always put together ridiculous strikeout numbers, but this finally resulted in elite production for him last season. He has a 12.9 K/9 rate and posted the lowest BB/9 of his career at 2.4. He finished the season with a 2.14 ERA in 65 games. When you are rebuilding, it is always smart to try to get a return on a closer. This is exactly what the Braves did when they traded Craig Kimbrel out to the west coast when they blew things up and the Padres were trying to make a push. Yates would not be a free agent until 2021.
The ideal scenario would be to get a package deal for one of those outfielders with Yates and knock out two birds with one stone. It would be much easier to part with prospects if they are addressing two of their needs with one deal. While it is a popular opinion that the Braves need to make a move for an ace, one could argue that with the plethora of young arms at their disposal, such a move could wait until the trade deadline. These are the two needs that require action immediately.
So what would the Padres want in return? No rebuilding team can turn away from the number of high upside arms the Braves have on their farm. The team is also reportedly looking for a utility man as they wait for Fernando Tatis Jr. to come up, so Johan Camargo may emerge in trade talks if they occur. Parting with Camargo would be a tough pill to swallow but it is a possibility they would have to consider to land two quality big leaguers. If I were Alex Anthopolous I would offer a couple of the arms and Charlie Culberson to help them fill their needs.