Who are the Atlanta Braves targeting before the August 2 MLB trade deadline?
The reigning World Series champions may have had their priorities shifted with the Adam Duvall injury, throwing the trade door wide open in Atlanta
The Atlanta Braves are in a good spot. Sitting only two games behind the Mets in the NL East, they are looking stronger than they did at this time last year. With very few desperate needs, the noise that they were expected to make on the trading front may now be about to get a whole lot louder.
Prior to last week, the needs of the Braves were all pitching-related. Their bullpen is one of the best in the majors, and they would have been looking to deepen it further rather than overhaul completely. The exception might be in their starting rotation where their top four have been outstanding, but Ian Anderson has struggled to fill that fifth spot.
On Sunday, everything changed. Adam Duvall is gone for the season. One of their big four last-minute trade deadline signings is now done for 2022. Almost to the day, one year ago the Braves pulled off the coup of the season, picking up Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, and Adam Duvall, creating perhaps the strongest outfield/DH squad in baseball. It paid huge dividends with Atlanta scraping their way into the post season and going on to dominate the playoffs and World Series in a way that was almost breathtaking given their pre-All-Star form.
Joc was traded to the Giants, much to the chagrin of everyone in Atlanta and with Rosario not back to his old self, Duvall’s loss leaves a gaping hole in the Braves lineup.
Outfielders on the market that might fit the bill for the Braves are thin on the ground, and while they could make a play for Jordan Luplow from the Diamondbacks or JD Martinez from the Red Sox, these are unlikely since most of Atlanta’s walking-around-money is tied up in Matt Olson. Andrew Benintendi could be a target for the Braves, but with the Yankees supposedly hot on him, he might fall into the category of wishful thinking as well.
Outfield is not the only need for the Braves, with Ozzie Albies out until at least September, they may look to pick up a utility player or middle infielder to plug that gap. Brandon Drury could make a lot of sense for Atlanta as the Reds third baseman has time at second and shortstop under his belt.
With the Duvall injury front and center, Atlanta should make that their focus, leaving their pitching for the post season. Four starters is all you need for October and they have a bullpen to die for. Whether or not they make the kind of waves they made last season in their acquisitions remains to be seen, but hey, who wouldn’t love to see Joc back in Atlanta? Stranger things have happened.