Welcome to trade deadline month, baseball fans!
As the sport transitioned from "small sample size" to focus on the draft to #Puigmania to All-Star selections, contenders have emerged while pretenders are fading away.
In the NL East, the Atlanta Braves have been a strong contender since early April, pacing the division in front of the inept Phillies and disappointing Nationals.
Of course, to stay on top, Atlanta may need reinforcements. With that, expect a steady stream of rumors and speculation involving trades and offers made by Braves general manager Frank Wren.
This post will be updated daily with the latest Atlanta Braves trade rumors, updates and reaction. Check back often!
Posted: July 8, 9:10 AM
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Atlanta has "limited" interest in White Sox left-handed reliever Matt Thornton.
The 36-year-old southpaw was a dominant reliever out of the White Sox pen from 2008-2010, posting a 2.70 ERA and 11.0 K/9 mark during his best seasons. While Thornton's 3.04 ERA and 1.20 WHIP have remained effective, if not sterling, this season, his dominance has waned over the years. In 38 appearances this summer, Thornton has posted a 6.8 K/9 mark, his lowest since debuting for Seattle in 2004.
While Luis Avilan (1.51 ERA) and Alex Wood (3.12 ERA) have given Fredi Gonzalez left-handed options out of the pen, the team still misses the lefty duo of Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters, both of whom were lost for the season due to arm injuries.
Thornton is expensive ($5.5 mil for 2013) for a middle-innings reliever, but comes with a buyout clause in his contract for 2014.
If Chicago is willing to take a mid-level prospect or contribute to the rest of the guaranteed money owed to Thornton, Atlanta could be a fit.
Posted: July 8, 9:20 AM
Upon the return of Brandon Beachy, the Braves will have six starters for five rotation spots.
Finding a spot to slot in Beachy's name would be easier for manager Fredi Gonzalez if the team made a move, possibly trading a veteran starting pitcher, like, say, Tim Hudson.
That was the thinking and reporting by MLB Network's Peter Gammons last week, but Hudson is a long-time veteran and Brave with rights to veto any trade, limiting Atlanta's options without his cooperation in a deal.
For the season, Hudson has been solid for Atlanta, posting a 4.03 ERA in 109.1 innings. His ERA-plus of 97 rates slightly below average, but more than acceptable considering his status as a back-end of the rotation starter, age (37) and prowess of Atlanta's offense.
Of course, a healthy Brandon Beachy has a much, much higher ceiling if he were to indeed replace Hudson.
Posted: July 8, 9:30 AM
According to George King III and Dan Martin of the New York Post, Braves scout and former MLB manager Jim Fergosi was in attendance to watch Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain pitch against the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards on June 28.
If Atlanta is looking to upgrade their bullpen depth, Chamberlain is an available piece with major upside.
Despite struggling in New York this season, losing his seventh-inning role to Shawn Kelly and failing to live up to expectations since arriving in pinstripes in 2007, Joba still has much to offer any staff, starting with a live, mid-to-upper 90s fastball and devastating slider.
With a K/9 rate still well above 9.0, Chamberlain's stuff is there, but control issues (4.43 BB/9) and startling home run rates (1.77 HR/9) have pushed his ERA to 5.75 for New York.
If his xFIP (3.99) is to be believed, a change of scenery and better luck on fly balls could make Joba a very effective second-half reliever.
With an expiring contract after 2013, acquiring Joba does become tricky, though. Realistically, Atlanta would only make an offer to New York that matches the production, age and control over Chamberlain's deal.
If Joba arrived and thrived, re-signing him to a long-term deal could be an added bonus.