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Trade Deadline Preview: The Atlanta Braves


Twins Daily Contributor

The Braves find themselves in a precarious position after losing one of the game’s young superstars, Ronald Acuna, to a season-ending injury right before the All-Star break. They may end up tempted to move some of their pending free agents as the month comes to a close. But with only a handful of games separating them from the East-leading Mets, they are currently one of the few teams in baseball already aggressively buying.

What’s Their Situation?

Atlanta is the three-time defending division champs and came one game short of the World Series last year. They currently find themselves behind the Mets and neck-and-neck with the Phillies. Their odds to win the division, though, trail only New York, according to Vegas Insider

What Do They Need?

Down all three outfield starters from Opening Day, the Braves would need to start there. Acuna is out for the season (at least), Marcell Ozuna’s status in society needs to be resolved before a Major League team even considers playing him again and Christian Pache, recovered from injury, is back in the minor leagues after struggling. 

The Braves started out their second half by acquiring Joc Pederson from the Cubs. Pederson fills a spot for this season, but has a hefty mutual option for next year that will likely lead to the Braves choosing to let Pederson head to free agency

Looking ahead, you can’t confidently place a single player in their 2022 Opening Day outfield.

The pitching staff is in pretty good shape. While it’s possible they add some reinforcements, the priority for the Braves - if they choose to add - is the outfield. 

Which Twins Are the Best Fit?

Max Kepler, under contract for around $20 million and three more seasons after this one, is the most obvious fit. He’s both versatile and affordable and could be viewed as expendable with the emergence of Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach. 

In 2019, Austin Riley, currently manning third base for the Braves, primarily played left field. The reason: Josh Donaldson. Donaldson had a great year (124 OPS+) and used it to sucker a team into committing at least $90 million to him. The Braves didn’t want to commit the years and cash to Donaldson in free agency, so it would require the Twins to kick in a large amount of money.

Hansel Robles could be a cheap bullpen option for any team looking to make a bullpen upgrade. Especially if that team isn’t sure where it’s going to stand in August. 

Jose Berrios and Taylor Rogers could help out any team who plans to compete in 2022, though if the Twins were motivated to move them, that market would probably grow in the off-season.

Who Could The Twins Get Back?

Kyle Muller, RHP, 23yo - Muller is MLB-ready and has spent time both with the Braves and at AAA. He may not project as more than a mid- to late-rotation contributor if he can’t bring his walk rate down. But at 23, Muller still has upside. 

Freddy Tarnok, RHP, 22yo - Tarnok is a prospect who comes with both a high-ceiling and a low-floor. The fastball that nearly reaches triple-digits is something to like. His slider and changeup are still works in progress. If both improve, you have a starter with a lot of potential. If neither become a usable pitch, you likely end up with someone who never cracks the big-league roster.

Ambioris Tavarez, SS, 17yo - The Twins have added a number of shortstops to their system over the last ten years, yet there is no obvious answer to the question, “Who is the Twins shortstop of the future?” Tavarez has yet to make his professional debut. But if the Twins are building for the future, adding another shortstop would make sense.

 


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I don't love the Braves system right now so there is that but, I am sure the Twins could find something there if they wanted to move rentals.  I like the Kepler idea but they don't have to move him at the deadline and they have him on a good contract and I don't see the Braves paying for a pretty much average right fielder hitting wise although he would be an option for them in Center field I have to imagine so there would be value that way.

I am still not sure how I feel about Max these days.  I don't love that he pulls everything to the right side but it looks like he has tried to go the other way more this year than I have seen in the past.  He still has a tough time at the plate against lefties so could be a bit of a flawed player.  He just plays such good defense though that he is harder to replace than some players.

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