Our Atlanta Braves are 26-16, should be 27-15 if @MLBReplays could get their head out of their…, and don’t look like they’re slowing down anytime soon. This team is chock full of havoc wreakers, is exploding with fun and excitement, and sweats confidence. The MLB world can continue to overlook this start, to doubt that it’s real, and this young core will continue to bust rump everyday to prove them wrong.
There aren’t many needs on the MLB squad and if you’re a firm believer that Austin Riley will be taking over 3B by mid-June and that there are a few stud relievers that could solidify the bullpen, then by all means skip this piece. Honestly I change my mind daily, but I’ve prepared this piece so LAY OFF! Braves Potential Trade Targets? Don’t tell me it’s early…I know it’s early! Still, it’s fun to scour the market and look for potential matches. Here’s the criteria I’ve laid out for myself:
- Must be a team in state of rebuild or should enter state of rebuild
- Must be a team in last or next to last place in their division
- Looking for a 3B on 1-year deals (or last year of contract) that wouldn’t block Austin Riley
- Looking for 1 deal that would acquire both a back-end reliever and a 3B
Let the madness begin!
Braves Potential Trade Targets, The Matches
First off, let’s not pretend that the Braves would be willing to empty the prospect bucket for Manny Machado. That is just not a realistic option for a team that’s building for a decade run. So let’s look at their alternatives:
- 3B: Danny Valencia– Signs point to Valencia, at 33 years old, having a power breakout season and it could be very well because he’s bought into the flyball revolution. A 13% increase in his flyballs and a decrease in his soft contact has led to an .833 OPS despite a BABIP that is nearly .050 points below his norm. The issue lies within defense as it’s essentially wiped out most of his value.
- RP: Zach Britton– Injured Achilles has kept him on the shelf but targeting late-May as a return. An elite LH arm when healthy and on last year of his contract that will pay him 12MM.
- RP: Darren O’Day– Also injured (hyperextended elbow) O’Day is under team control for this year and next at 9MM/year and is lethal on RHHs, but don’t let that fool you as he’s also good against LHHs.
- RP: Brad Brach– velo is down but still effective. On last year of a 5.2 MM contract.
Kansas City Royals
- 3B: Mike Moustakas– Moose is having a year that likely makes the underperforming Royals smile (well, at least their front office) despite having an abysmal team. With a 1.3 fWAR at the quarter season and low salary to boot, Moose will help some 3B needy team in playoff pursuit.
- RP: Kelvin Herrera– 15.2 innings…0 walks. That’s right. A 0 BB/9. Herrera had a lapse in 2017 but looks to be just as dominant again as he was in ’14-’16.
- 3B: Adrian Beltre– No…I don’t think he’ll ever leave Texas. He has 10/5 rights and I think it’s more important to him to retire as a Ranger rather than chase a ring but he’s still worth listing.
- RP: Jake Diekman– A dominant left-hander…when he can find the zone. Has nearly walked a batter per inning this year (and last).
Braves Potential Trade Targets, The Misses
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are essentially impossible to complete this kind of exercise with as they rarely have guys with 1-year of control left and those aren’t very appealing otherwise they’d have traded them already. Moving on…
Like the Rays, if the Marlins had anything of value in the relief pitching and/or third base with only 1 year of control left, they’d be playing with another team. Sure, it would be nostalgic to trade for Martin Prado but would be backward thinking as he’s getting paid a lot of money this year and next…and he’s not been very good.
I’ve already seen Twitter screaming to go grab Rasiel Iglesias and Eugenio Suarez but is that the best use of our resources at this time? No…no it is not. Austin Riley needs a shot at the 3B position in 2019 and Iglesias would cost a fortune considering his control. Aside from that, there’s really not much here.
San Diego Padres
While there are no infielders that fit this exercise, Brad Hand is a name that has been tossed around in Braves circles and he could be a good investment considering his control (3 years + an option) but does not fit into the plan at hand (see what I did there?).
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox will most definitely have veterans to sell off, but the problem is those veterans aren’t in positions of need for the Braves. One I’d keep tabs on his RH reliever Joakim Soria.
From the information above, we can potentially see 2 (or 3 depending on Beltre) early fits if the Braves want to act fast and those are the Orioles and the Royals. Obviously the Orioles package would require much less in return, but the Royals package would bring more value to the 2018 team.
My opinion on the matter? I’d rather not do any of them. I’m completely fine with having this thing play out, try out some new relief options, continue to try to find the placeholder at 3B by rotating Jose Bautista, Johan Camargo, and Ryan Flaherty then promote Austin Riley mid-year to rake with our other 20-year olds.