The trade deadline is at 4 PM, and reports have come out that the Braves intend on buying. Clearly, the team needs to make some changes, but not all of them have to come via trade. Some of these moves will cost more in terms of prospects than others, but the Braves are still within striking distance of this division. The market isn’t exactly great, but maybe the Braves can surprise us and add some impact players.
1. Add at least two bullpen arms
The Cubs have made it clear that they are hitting the reset button, and they’d likely be willing to part with Craig Kimbrel for the right price. Like with the Braves following the 2014 season, bad teams don’t need shutdown closers — and Kimbrel has been just that. He’s posting an absolutely ridiculous 0.49 ERA and 0.709 WHIP to go along with 23 saves. There are reportedly tons of bidders, and that is not a surprise. He wouldn’t be cheap, but he would help solidify a Braves bullpen with a 4.41 team ERA. Closer isn’t the biggest need, but allowing Will Smith to be the lefty setup man would be a boost to the unit as a whole.
If the Braves do add a guy like Kimbrel, I don’t think they should stop there. Ian Kennedy makes a lot of sense, and maybe the Rangers have learned their lesson after failing to sell high on Lance Lynn. Kennedy is on an expiring deal, but he should be picked up for a reasonable cost. The former starter has a 2.51 ERA on the season. Kennedy may not be the only target; I would like to see Atlanta snag one or two more guys like him if the price is right. Taylor Rogers, who is currently injured, also comes to mind. Scott Barlow of Kansas City does as well.
2. Call up Travis Demeritte
This is going to be one of the only non-trades, and I talked about how Demeritte could be the next man up after Ender Inciarte was released. That still hasn’t happened, but I think Demeritte could instantly improve Atlanta’s bench. The Winder native has been scalding hot in Gwinnett, posting a 1.143 OPS on the season, and has launched three grand slams over a seven-game stretch in July. I think bats will be much tougher to come by for the Braves, and adding Demeritte gives you a starting outfielder without making a transaction. However, they will still need help.
3. Consider a blockbuster, but avoid rentals
Jose Ramirez has been discussed among Braves fans pretty often, and adding J-Ram would allow Austin Riley to move to left field and continue to provide incredible offensive output. Ramirez has two extra years of team control, so he wouldn’t be cheap, but he allows the Braves to contend now and in the future. I don’t think a guy like Kris Bryant, who has openly said he is testing free agency in the winter, would make sense, but the pickings are slim. I don’t think Trevor Story is an upgrade over Dansby at this point, especially on an expiring deal.
4. Add at least one bat
I think Robbie Grossman may be your best option at this point, and the Braves could do a lot worse. His average isn’t pretty, but he’s a switch hitter with a .763 OPS and 16 home runs on a bad team. Max Kepler makes the most sense to me, and he has been hot in July after a poor start to the season. I think the Braves could pick up both of these guys for a decent cost. Both guys have extra control beyond 2021, so they could slide to the bench if necessary when the team is healthy. I would love to pry Andrew Benintendi away from the Royals, but there are very few reports of him being available thus far.