Atlanta Braves Trade Review

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The Atlanta Braves, or more specifically general manager Alex Anthopolous, have been busy bees lately. The team itself alternated wins and losses in an odd pattern after the All-Star Game. This was halted in recent days as the team swept the St. Louis Cardinals. While this occurred, Anthopolous made many deals. He brought in a former single-season home run leader along with a somewhat prized reliever. There’s also been the reacquisition of a fan favorite and two powerful outfield bats. In short, it has been quite a trade deadline season for the team. The Braves are a mere 1 ½ games out of first place. So, some of these trades could have either positive or negative postseason implications. Let’s jump right in and examine them further.

Atlanta Braves Trade Review

On July 15th, the Braves picked up outfielder Joc Pederson from the Chicago Cubs. The return on the deal was minor league first baseman Bryce Ball. Pederson is a former All-Star best known for his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers. 130 of his 143 career homers came with the team. He also finished sixth in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2015. His best season was two years ago when he hit .249 with 36 homers. Since then, his power has slipped considerably. However, for such a comparably meager return, it was worth a try. Depth is the key here, and so far, Pederson has paid off. He’s hitting .300 since arriving in Atlanta with two homers, nine RBIs, and a .467 slugging average. He’s also posted a 111 OPS+, up 17 points from his time in Chicago. So, this seems to be working out in the Braves’ favor.

 The next day, the Braves traded with the Arizona Diamondbacks for catcher Stephen Vogt. In exchange, they sent minor league first baseman Mason Berne to the desert. Vogt is a former two-time All-Star with the Oakland Athletics. However, injuries and being tossed around the league have hampered his career. He was hitting .212 before coming to Atlanta, so his bat needed some work. However, with Travis d’Arnaud still on the injured list, catching depth was also important at the deadline. Vogt has done an okay job since arriving with the Braves. He’s hitting .229 with eight hits in 10 games. His fielding percentage is perfect, but the sample size is such that we cannot judge his defense quite yet. Since he’s platooning with Kevan Smith, there aren’t many chances for him to perform. Nevertheless, when he has been given the opportunity, he has proven to be a solid backstop. He seems to be a perfectly capable bridge until d’Arnaud returns.  

The Atlanta Braves on Deadline Day

The day of the deadline brought many surprises. First, the Braves traded for outfielder Eddie Rosario from the Cleveland Indians. In the deal, Atlanta sent Pablo Sandoval north. Rosario is currently on the injured list, however, he could make an impact upon returning. Right afterward, the Braves picked up former favorite Adam Duvall from the Miami Marlins. Minor league catcher Alex Jackson went to South Beach. In four games since returning to Atlanta, Duvall has collected two hits. That said, it was still a solid deal for one of the National League’s RBI leaders. Given enough time, Duvall’s powerful bat could lend more credence to a lineup already capable of hitting home runs.

The team’s next move was to bring in outfielder Jorge Soler from the Kansas City Royals. Minor league relief pitcher Kasey Kalich went to the Royals in the deal. Soler’s best season came with the Royals in 2019. He hit .265 with 48 home runs and 117 RBI. He posted a .569 slugging percentage and a 137 OPS+. Currently, he seems to be panning out for the Braves. He’s hitting .316 in his first five Braves games with two homers and five RBIs. He’s slugging .632 with an OPS of 1.041 and an OPS+ of 165. Considering his numbers with Kansas City this season, it may not last. However, the immediate benefits are obvious. Soler is a power bat with a penchant for hitting the ball out of the ballpark. Having Soler guarantees a minor threat to any pitching staff, even if he were to come off the bench. The pop is there. It’s simply a matter of getting him to control it.

Improving The Bullpen

The team’s final deadline business was a deal for Pittsburgh Pirates closer Richard Rodriguez. In exchange, young pitchers Bryse Wilson and Ricky DeVito were sent to Steel City. Rodriguez was a rather coveted piece on the relief market. Through his first 12 1/3 innings this year, he allowed no runs and one hit. Even more important, 66% of his pitches hit the strike zone. While he never truly lost this dominance, his stock did dip a bit. His ERA went from under one at the end of May to over 2.50 by July 1. Even so, bullpen depth is severely important to the Braves this year. Underwhelming performances by returning members Chris Martin and Shane Greene have contributed to this. Players like Tyler Matzek and Luke Jackson have helped, but overall, the bullpen is lacking. They are 17th in the majors in ERA and 19th in WHIP. So, the acquisition of Rodriguez could become critical as they look to improve down the stretch.

Good Move or Bad Move: Fate Decides

So far, it appears that these deals are working out for the Atlanta Braves. Pederson has become a solid addition to the lineup. Duvall and Soler have been consistent so far, but their sample sizes are a lot smaller. Once Rosario comes off the injured list, the Braves could have one of the deeper outfields in the National League. Vogt has been a capable placeholder until Travis d’Arnaud can return to regular playing time. Finally, Rodriguez has come in and done good work in his first few outings out of the Braves bullpen. If the Braves win a fourth straight division crown, these trades could be catalysts. It’s all up to fate.

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Players Mentioned:

Joc Pederson, Bryce Ball, Stephen Vogt, Mason Berne, Travis d’Arnaud, Kevan Smith, Eddie Rosario, Pablo Sandoval, Adam Duvall, Alex Jackson, Jorge Soler, Kasey Kalich, Richard Rodriguez, Bryse Wilson, Ricky DeVito, Chris Martin, Shane Greene, Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson