Braves Trade Talk: Last-Minute Buzz Before the Trade Deadline

Matt PowersCorrespondent IIJuly 30, 2013

Braves Trade Talk: Last-Minute Buzz Before the Trade Deadline

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    The Atlanta Braves are expected to be buyers heading into the deadline and could potentially be among the more active teams between now and Wednesday. General manager Frank Wren has proven that he isn't afraid to pull the trigger, dealing for Michael Bourn and Alex Gonzalez during the season in previous years and making some offseason headlines by acquiring guys like Justin Upton and Dan Uggla.

    With some holes to fill, the Braves are a team to watch this week, and this article will have the latest updates.

Bullpen

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    There have been plenty of rumors around the Braves, but the longest-running rumor as well as the biggest need was a left-handed pitcher for the bullpen. This need had been apparent ever since the club lost top setup men Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty for the season with elbow issues.

    The Braves added that pitcher on Monday when they acquired veteran Scott Downs from the Angels for Cory Rasmus, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

    The acquisition of Downs is likely all the Braves are going to do in the bullpen because they have Downs, Craig Kimbrel, Jordan Walden and Luis Avilan all set in their roles with David Carpenter, Anthony Varvaro, Luis Ayala and possibly one of Alex Wood and Kris Medlen to fill out the bullpen.

Starting Pitching

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    The starting rotation has been good for the Braves this year, but even before Tim Hudson suffered a season-ending injury, there was some talk that the Braves could be interested in adding another starting pitcher. It makes sense right now because only Mike Minor and Julio Teheran are sure things for the rotation at the moment, with the injured Paul Maholm right behind.

    The final two spots have three guys competing for them. Brandon Beachy was blasted in his first start back by the Rockies on Monday night, so it's hard to say what he will be able to provide down the stretch. Kris Medlen has struggled since the start of July, which has led to talk that Alex Wood could take his rotation spot and move Medlen to the bullpen.

    Wood has shown flashes, but he really hasn't had the chance to do much in his two big league starts and isn't a guy fans are overly confident in down the stretch without more experience.

    The Braves are looking at the following pitchers on the trade market right now, according to all of the Internet rumors out there:

    • Jake Peavy—The top starter on the market, but according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, the Braves are not likely to be a player due to his past health issues and a large amount of money owed through next season.
    • Ervin Santana—A guy the Braves could be interested in, but a recent hot streak by the Royals to put them at .500 means they may not be sellers at the deadline.
    • Bud Norris—Norris is an interesting pitcher but one with a major question mark, having spent his career pitching for bad Astros' teams. He is a guy the Braves aren't after for this, reason according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.
    • Brewers starters—A pair of dark-horse candidates include Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse from the Brewers. The Braves are said not to have interest in Gallardo, per MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Although the Braves may like Lohse, he is a guy with two years left on his contract whom the Brewers surrendered a first-round pick to sign last winter, so he won't be cheap.

Backup Infielder

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    With Ramiro Pena out for the season, the Braves could use a backup infielder capable of both hitting a little and playing solid defense, especially with both Chris Johnson and Dan Uggla being below-average with the glove. Mark Bowman of MLB.com believes the Braves could make a run at a backup infielder before the trade deadline as well.

    There Braves aren't being connected to anyone right now, but that's not surprising since they are chasing a guy to come in and play off the bench.

Backup Outfielder

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    While it isn't a strong possibility the Braves go after a backup outfielder, there is a slight chance. It's fair to say the starting outfield of Jason Heyward and the Upton brothers has underperformed all season, and now with B.J. Upton injured and top reserve Jordan Schafer also out, the club could be interested in landing a solid veteran bat.

    Of course, the Braves may decide to wait it out to get Upton and Schafer back healthy and then be set with one of them along with Reed Johnson off the bench as backups in the outfield.

    Since this is more speculation than anything, there are no names really linked to the Braves right now.