So, the Non-Waiver trade deadline has come and gone and no big news out of Atlanta. John Coppoletta said while some interest was expressed on players like reliever Jim Johnson and outfielders Nick Markakis and Ender Inciarte, no one was willing to meet the Braves’ asking price. Well, I can live with that. Those players will still be available during the hot stove season to teams looking to add pieces. As it was, their was only a small number of teams looking to add pieces for the play-off push and other than Jim Johnson, no one really had a lot of value.
This week the Braves did make a trade for a player who perhaps is on the downward side of his career in Matt Kemp but a guy who still shows more power than anyone other than perhaps Freddie Freeman. A lot of teams would not have wanted to add a player like Kemp but for Atlanta, he makes tremendous sense. He is a right handed bat who can protect lefty hitting Freddie Freeman and slot nicely between Freddie and Nick Markakis. While his defensive numbers are not that great, he could still play right field in place of Markakis or left. As far as left fielders go, I doubt his defense rates below that of other players who have been regulated to the off field of baseball.
Perhaps the biggest upside is moving the hugely disappointing Hector Olivera off the Braves payroll. While it has been widely rumored that Olivera will be DFAed by San Diego, it is not official and I suspect the Padres would simply allow him to pass through waivers and then play him in Triple A, or not. It’s no longer the Braves’ concern as to where the Cuban-born exile will play. I guess the real question is if any of the talent evaluators who pushed for the acquisition of Olivera are still on the Braves payroll or can their opinions be trusted?
So, back to what we can look forward to short term. The Braves hope that the addition of Kemp will increase the run production against the lefthanded pitching have had such a problem with this season. While not of the same talent level of a Cespedes, at least he is a bigger power threat than most everyone else who has played in the Atlanta outfield this season. Tyler Flowers is expected to return soon and also add some power to the line up.
I doubt Mallex Smith will return prior to the September call ups. For now, the Braves biggest problem seems to be who will fill the roster as starting pitchers. Coppy flipped Lucas Harrell to the Rangers so look for Gant to fill his spot as soon as he returns to full health. Perhaps Aaron Blair will return after his stint in Triple A. Even “utility” pitcher, Joel De La Cruz could fill in as a five starter. As it is, I expect the Braves will continue to take their lumps. The schedule is filled with the rest of the NL East rivals in the near future. The Marlins are much improved since we saw the last and both they and the Mets will try to use the Braves as a stepping stone to at least a play-off berth. The Nationals are still the class of the division and August and September is when they have normally played their best baseball.
At least perhaps we are not out of spring training for this team.