This 2022 Braves trade deadline move is some of Alex Anthopoulos’ best work

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The MLB trade deadline is fast approaching, and conversations will really begin to heat up following next week’s All-Star break. For the Braves, they have a multitude of areas they can stand to upgrade, mostly offensively, but pitching is always a need.

Expecting a blockbuster trade this year in the middle of the season with Ronald Acuña Jr. and Spencer Strider out for the season is probably foolish thinking. Alex Anthopoulos has to balance the want to win now with the needs of the future, but blockbuster trades are also not where Anthopoulos has done his best work.

Where Anthopoulos has made his money as the general manager of the Braves is with under-the-radar acquisitions, finding value where nobody else is generally looking. The 2021 trade deadline was the perfect example, when he acquired four outfielders — Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, and Adam Duvall — without giving up a top prospect, leading the Braves to their first World Series title since 1995.

This past offseason was another prime example. Most thought the best years of Chris Sale were well in the rearview, so Anthopoulos was able to acquire him from the Red Sox for just Vaughn Grissom while the Red Sox are paying nearly his entire salary this season. Now, Sale will be making his eighth All-Star appearance in his first season with the Braves, and he’ll be joined by Reynaldo Lopez, who Anthopoulos inked to a three-year, $30 million contract this past offseason.

Once again, Anthopoulos saw something nobody else envisioned. After spending the last five years as a reliever, the Braves decided to try Lopez out as a starter, and all he’s done in his new role is lead Major League Baseball in ERA and all National League pitchers in WAR.

Alex Anthopoulos’ tenure as Braves general manager is littered with these kinds of acquisitions, and at the 2022 trade deadline, he did it again with a move that’s still paying dividends for the Braves, trading Tucker Davidson and Jesse Chavez to the Angels for Raisel Iglesias.

The kicker in this deal is the Braves were willing to take on the $48 million left on Iglesias’ contract from 2023-2025, who was not having the best of seasons for the Angels, boasting a 4.04 ERA prior to the trade. But after the trade, Iglesias went on to post a 0.34 ERA for the Braves over the final two months of the season, allowing just one earned run over 26.1 innings.

Meanwhile, Tucker Davidson never amounted to anything in Los Angeles, and Jesse Chavez made his way back to Atlanta soon following the trade after being designated for assignment by the Angels. Combined, Raisel Iglesias has a 2.01 ERA since the deal over 117 innings for the Braves and Jesse Chavez has a 2.07 ERA over 87 innings.

That’s simply an insane amount of value in a trade that essentially cost the Braves nothing in terms of prospects. All it took was a little gamble from Alex Anthopoulos, and if you’re a gambling man, you shouldn’t bet against what the Braves general manager might be capable of at this year’s trade deadline, even if he doesn’t have a lot of prospect capital at his disposal.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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