The trade deadline came and past like any other year. But unlike any other year this decade, the Braves made some key moves to strength almost all units of the roster.
It began with the smallest deal, Jonny Venters from the Rays for $250K in international bonus pool allotment. We know about Venters, and we know about his durability issues, but he will replace the mediocre-to-terrible innings thrown by Sam Freeman. And considering the Braves can’t use the allotment, it was well-spent.
A very similar deal saw us grab another reliever, Brad Brach, for the same price: $250K in international allotment. Brach is a more impactful pickup — though owed more — than Venters, and was an All-Star just two years ago. He will most likely take a mixture of Peter Moylan’s outings and relieve some stress off the late-inning relievers in a high leverage role.
Last night, they packaged up a few players who probably didn’t have a future role — Matt Wisler, Lucas Sims, and Preston Tucker — to get Adam Duvall from the Reds. Duvall will play LF against lefties, shifting Ronald Acuna Jr. to center field and Ender Inciarte to the bench on those days. Duvall grabs out well defensively, so the Braves will suffer minimally on defensive while upgrading that spot in the lineup significantly. This also may open up some opportunities to deploy Ender from the bench strategically against righties and on the bases. So in that way, two areas are improved with one move.
The big deal today was getting Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day for Jean Carlos Encarnacion, Brett Cumberland, Evan Phillips, and Bruce Zimmerman. Gausman and Brach could see improvement by the better Atlanta defense. Atlanta is 3rd in baseball in defensive runs saved with 43 vs. Baltimore’s last place standing with -81. If you don’t follow DRS closely, just know that is a very big swing. O’Day is injured for the rest of the year, but with only a hamstring injury, he should be back in time for next year. When healthy, he’s an excellent reliever.
The best prospect going back in terms of raw talent is probably Encarnacion with Cumberland not far behind. It’s a heaping amount of prospects to send in return, but to improve the roster to this scale, there are no tears shed. These are exactly the kind of prospects you trade to get established major league pitchers back.
The Phillies improved significantly by landing Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilson Ramos, but the Braves matched the improvements — if not exceeded — and could be looking at a dog fight for the rest of the year.