I think we’re all agreed that the Braves could use a replacement for Darren Bragg. There’s no guarantee they’ll actually look for one. Teams that are doing well tend to stand pat, even if there are obvious weaknesses, and as long as the Braves are scoring runs they may not care that their utility outfielder is hitting worse than 2/5 of the starting rotation.
If the Braves do make a move, I’m working on the following assumptions: 1) They will go after a veteran who has played regularly in the past, and 2) That veteran has to be able to play centerfield for at least a few innings. That limits the pool somewhat.
The best outfielders on the market for the Braves’ current purposes are probably San Diego’s Rondell White and Cincinnati’s Jose Guillen. Both are problematic for the fourth outfielder role because some teams might want them to play regularly and could outbid the Braves. The Padres have said that anybody who wants White has to take Kevin Jarvis off their hands, and the last thing the Braves need is another mediocre pitcher with injury problems and a fat contract. Guillen is having a tremendous year, 337/.389/.616, and I fully expect him to go to the Yankees.
Cleveland’s Matt Lawton, currently on the DL, is a patient hitter with some power, but a .244 batting average and a big contract. He’s unlikely. If the Rockies decide they’re out of it, they might move Jay Payton, but his numbers aren’t very good for a guy playing half his games in Colorado.
That brings me to what I think of as the “bad blood” group of players. These are the guys who maybe fit the Braves’ needs the best, but whom they’re unlikely to get because of personality conflicts. The Mets’ Roger Cedeno is a fourth outfielder-type stretched as a regular. He’s despised in Queens. Would the Mets trade with the Braves? Even if they would, Cedeno is having a terrible year and is massively overpaid. Having a good year, and a manageable contract, is Kenny Lofton of the Pirates. But after his sojourn in Atlanta, it’s hard to imagine the Braves bringing him back. To a lesser degree, the same is true of Reggie Sanders, his teammate in Pittsburgh.