An Early Look at 5 Realistic Moves the Atlanta Braves Could Make at the Deadline

Daniel Kock@@dannykockContributor IIIMay 14, 2013

An Early Look at 5 Realistic Moves the Atlanta Braves Could Make at the Deadline

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    We are about one quarter of the way through the MLB season with the Atlanta Braves clinging to a slim lead in the National League East.

    After a blazing start, the Braves have come back down to earth against a rather difficult early schedule.

    The Braves have yet to play a game with their full lineup and still have one of the more talented rosters in the National League.

    However, they have also shown some glaring weaknesses, which general manager Frank Wren will look to improve.

    Much will change between now and the trade deadline, and the moves the Braves make will depend on how injuries play out and what new ones the Braves get hit with.

    Here's an early look at some realistic moves the Braves could make at July's trade deadline.

1. Chase Headley

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    The third baseman for the San Diego Padres would be the biggest potential splash the Braves would make by the deadline in my eyes.

    Headley will be eligible for arbitration following this season and a free agent after the 2014 season. The Padres (15-21) sit 6.5 games back in the National League West, making Headley a likely trade candidate.

    Headley is coming off a career year in 2012 in which he drove in 112 runs and has played solidly in limited action in 2013 following a thumb injury (.294, four home runs, 12 RBI).

    Acquiring Headley would mean the end of the platoon at third base between Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson.

    Thus far, the platoon has worked out, with Francisco hitting .296 with five home runs against right-handed pitching and Johnson hitting .405 and three home runs against left-handed pitching.

    Poor play or injuries would have to pop up for Wren to seriously throw his hat into the Headley sweepstakes.

    Right now I'd consider it doubtful, but it's still worth remembering and monitoring over the next few weeks.

2. Corey Hart

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    Consider this one in the wait-and-see category as well.

    Corey Hart is signed through the 2013 season and then becomes a free agent. The Brewers currently sit below .500 (16-20) and feature one of the smallest payrolls in baseball.

    Signing Hart could prove to be too rich for their blood, so moving him at the trade deadline could be in their best interests.

    For Hart to wind up a Brave, something significant would have to happen injury wise.

    However, Hart can play any outfield position as well as first base and provides plenty of power at the plate.

    The 31-year-old is eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list May 30, which could help lower his trade value in comparison to this past offseason.

    This is one the Braves could pull off if the injury bug strikes.

3. Luke Gregerson

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    The Braves will likely look to add bullpen depth at the trade deadline.

    Right-handers Luis Ayala and Cristhian Martinez are both on the disabled list, as well as left-hander Jonny Venters.

    Luke Gregerson has been a solid set-up man for a bad team in the San Diego Padres. In 2013, he's posted a 1-2 record and 1.02 ERA.

    As previously mentioned, the Padres don't appear to be in contention in 2013 and will be sellers at the deadline.

    Gregerson is eligible for arbitration after this season and becomes a free agent after the 2014 season, making him a valuable target for many contenders.

    I'd expect the Braves to call and ask about Gregerson.

4. Steve Cishek

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    Another reliever the Braves can target is the Miami Marlins' Steve Cishek.

    The Marlins and Braves have not been afraid to trade within the division in the past, and we all know the Marlins will be sellers.

    Cishek would be an affordable option, as he's signed for roughly $500,000 in 2013 according to Baseball-Reference.

    The right-hander has served as the Marlins closer the past two seasons and had a solid year in 2012 in which he posted a 2.69 ERA and 15 saves.

    Adding Cishek is the type of move the Braves will make at the deadline. He would provide depth and insurance at a reasonable price.

5. Tyler Pastornicky/Gerald Laird

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    Two players the Braves could part ways with to pull off these deals or add depth to the minors are Tyler Pastornicky and Gerald Laird.

    Pastornicky lost out to Andrelton Simmons to be the Braves' starting shortstop, and Ramiro Pena has done an excellent job serving as the utility infielder.

    He has shown he can be a productive hitter at the plate and could help some teams from an offensive standpoint.

    Laird faces a similar situation as Pastornicky. All-Star Brian McCann has returned from his injury and looks to be his old self.

    Meanwhile, Evan Gattis has emerged as a potential catcher of the future and isn't going anywhere.

    Keeping three catchers could prove to be too difficult once everyone returns from injury.

    There will be teams looking for a veteran catcher for the postseason stretch, and the Braves could get some value for Laird.