First of all, I could not be happier to be writing about the Braves with the team here at 755 Battery Avenue. I am hopeful and confident that this website will bring new and interesting conversations about the inner working of the Braves. I personally have learned a lot from the deep dive articles from our writers in this past week alone. With that said, I asked my twitter followers to forward some questions for a mailbag, and below were some of the most interesting questions forwarded to me. Enjoy!
Do you think the Braves still have interest in trading for an established starter given what we have seen from the rotation so far this year? Archer is the name that keeps popping up.
— David Dinwiddie (@sportdinw) May 14, 2018
Chris Archer is an interesting trade target due to his current contract and current performance. He has been lackluster from an ERA standpoint for two and a half years now, which could allow him to be priced lower than his name value suggests. Teams still get how good he can be, but there may be an ability to get him now at a slight discount. The stuff is still there for Archer, and a move out of the AL East (which has 4 very hitter-friendly stadiums and good offenses) could be a big boon to his numbers. I would think the Braves are checking on his price and deciding if they would be comfortable paying it or not.
If the team is buying at the July 31 deadline and the rest of the standings mostly stay the same from here until then, which teams do the Braves look like a good fit with to do some dealing? Reds, Orioles, Padres mostly?
— Ryan 〽arby (@ryyxma) May 14, 2018
Absolutely. Alex Anthopoulos will be looking to find pieces that will help this team continue to progress forward, internally and externally. The big question is to what degree will he be willing to sacrifice long-term value for a short-term acquisition. I certainly do not see him “selling the farm” to acquire a rental player, but I would be shocked if he were not checking on the prices of some of the top impending free agents.
My suspicion, at this point, is that the Braves would make a few deals for relievers and veteran mid-rotation arms. A lot will depend on injuries and performance over the summer months, but this is the most likely scenario.
With regards to third base, I think the Braves would call up Austin Riley before making a move for say, Manny Machado. If Riley is not quite ready, I could see the Braves then trying to make a move for Machado. I think the price of Machado is currently being very overstated. If you take a look at what J.D. Martinez went for last summer, for instance, I do not think many teams are completely willing to trade big long-term assets for a few months of a great player. Machado is better than Martinez, but even if you increase the return received by the Tigers last year to balance the delta between Machado and Martinez, the Braves would be happy to make such a trade. Another team may be more aggressive than that, but I do not expect the Braves to trade their top prospects this summer.
Thoughts on moving Camargo to 3rd for an extended period once Dansby comes back? I just don't see Jose Bautista as a valid option.
Has Newcomb turned the corner? Where do you see Folty in the future?
— Phillip Crain (@PhillipCWDE) May 14, 2018
As for the first question, I think we will see a mix and match approach at third base for the foreseeable future. The top position players on the team have been ridden pretty hard over the first month and a half of the season. Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, and Ozzie Albies have played in every game so far. Ender Inciarte has missed one. Dansby Swanson missed I believe one game before being injured. Johan Camargo can be best utilized as a utility player to give these guys breathers, and Jose Bautista’s ability to play the outfield and his right-handedness should give the team the ability to rest Inciarte and Markakis against lefties at times.
This would keep the team fresh and would give them a good look at what they have from a close-to-every day basis Camargo and Bautista. This is all assuming that the staff thinks Bautista is still a capable Major Leaguer.
Kolby Allard is an interesting prospect… Shorter, soft throwing, injury prone.. With an improved change-up now, is he Dallas Keuchel lite, or is he a sell-high candidate?
— Masoñ Webb (@VeryVern) May 14, 2018
Unfortunately not all of our prospects are going to hit. Some have more risk than others, pitchers have more risk than hitters, and past-injury is a one of the best indicators for future injuries. With that said, Allard threw 150 innings last year and has thrown 6 innings per start this season. I am not terribly concerned about Allard specifically from a risk standpoint, at least not significantly more than any other pitcher.
In order to acquire the right guy, pretty much every prospect in the minor league system should be available. It will always be a difficult pill to swallow to see a player the team has developed moved somewhere else, but moving risky assets for more surer bets is not a bad strategy. Of course, we all want the Braves to move the pitchers that will not pan out and keep the ones that will. The risk that comes with dealing prospects includes lost upside in trades, but the team cannot hug prospects forever. At some point, some of these guys are going to be moved. I am never one to advocate for specific players to be traded for other specific players, so I will not call Allard a sell-high candidate, but the team should not be afraid to move any of the players currently in the minors to get a guy that will help them now and in the future.
Archer is probably the high end for what the Braves would be looking to add. They may decide it is a better long term strategy to make a smaller deal or two utilizing their depth in the minor league system instead of paying for Archer, but I do think adding a starter is on the agenda. The Braves have such a young rotation, sans McCarthy, so if they are looking like serious contenders come deadline time it is hard to imagine Anthopoulos looking at the current rotation as one that will be reliable in October, especially considering how many innings an October run could add to the young arms.