With Max Fried expected to return and Marcell Ozuna avoiding a significant injury after a scare Monday night, the Braves top priority less than two months away from the trade deadline is obvious. They could add another veteran starter or a bat, but they absolutely must continue to bolster their bullpen. This is a group that’s very good, but it has the potential to be elite with another high-powered arm or two, which is always a deadly weapon come October.
The playoffs are now expanded, so there aren’t going to be tons of sellers at the trade deadline moving forward, but one obvious club that will be unloading their spare parts is the Kansas City Royals. And they have two elite relievers that make a lot of sense for the Braves.
Barlow is having a bit of a down year in 2023, boasting a 4.38 ERA, which can largely do with his walk numbers. He’s walking 4.7 batters per nine innings, well above his career average of 3.5. With that being said, Barlow has established himself as one of the best relievers in baseball over the last two seasons, recording a 2.30 ERA and 1.096 WHIP with a 10.2 K/9 between 2021 and 2022. The stuff remains elite, and a change of scenery to a contender would probably do him wonders. Barlow also has another year of arbitration on his contract for 2024. That will make him a little more expensive in terms of prospect capital, but for a Braves team that will be competing for a while, he makes a lot of sense. Barlow would solidify Atlanta’s bullpen as one of the best in baseball.
The Royals went out and signed Aroldis Chapman in the offseason for one reason: hoping he would build back up his value so they could flip him at the trade deadline. And that’s exactly what the seven-time All-Star has done in his age-35 season. Chapman is still humming it well north of 100 MPH, owning a 2.70 ERA and silly 15.8 K/9. He’s back to looking like one of the best relief pitchers in baseball, and there will be no shortage of suitors leading up to the trade deadline.
Of course, whoever decides to trade for Chapman will have to deal with the PR backlash because of his incidents in the past. But we are talking about a team that still employs Marcell Ozuna… would the Braves want to take that risk again? I’m not sure, but if their only focus is on winning, they would be hard-pressed to find a better option on the market at the trade deadline than Chapman.
Photo: Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire