Grading Atlanta Braves Trade Deadline Performance
Like most of the league, the Atlanta Braves were pretty quiet as the July 31 trade deadline came and went.
A limited market, huge lead in the division and lack of major holes all contributed to general manager Frank Wren being content with the majority of the roster.
Wren did address the bullpen, which was one of the needs along with a utility infielder and front-end starter to cope with the injuries to Ramiro Pena and Tim Hudson respectively.
The Braves acquired left-handed relief pitcher Scott Downs from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in exchange for right-hander Cory Rasmus on July 29.
While not a blockbuster deal, it is another example of an intelligent move by the Braves front office to improve a playoff contender.
With the Angels, Downs compiled a 1.84 ERA and 22 strikeouts to 11 walks in 43 appearances. His 18 holds in Los Angeles are more than any reliever on the Braves.
The 37-year-old has been extremely effective against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .192 average and .462 OPS.
The move already paid dividends as Downs picked up a win in his first appearance with the team on Monday. Downs entered in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and got Todd Helton to lineout. He then pitched a scoreless tenth inning with closer Craig Kimbrel unavailable.
His presence in the bullpen gives manager Fredi Gonzalez some much needed depth. He can now turn to Downs, Luis Avilan or Jordan Walden in the middle innings.
It will also help take pressure off Avilan, who has already made 49 appearances and was the only left-hander in the bullpen before the trade.
What grade do you give the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline?
The upside of acquiring Downs far outweighs the loss of Rasmus, who allowed four home runs and posted a 8.10 ERA in 6.2 innings at the MLB level in 2013.
In regards to their other needs, the Braves will continue to look for a utility infielder through waivers to give them an upgrade over Paul Janish.
I still believe Placido Polanco would be a perfect fit, but MLB.com's Mark Bowman has hinted the Braves are searching for a left-handed hitter.
Don't be surprised if the Braves add a backup infielder in the next few weeks.
The need for a front-end starter was created after the nasty injury to Tim Hudson. The current starters have just one combined playoff start between them.
However, a true No. 1 was not available in this market.
Jake Peavy was the only big name starter truly on the trading block and he has all of two playoff starts in his career and a 12.10 ERA in those two starts.
It was simply not worth giving up the talent to acquire a pitcher who may or may not upgrade the rotation.
Overall, I'd give the Braves a B-minus. They made a move that will help the team secure a playoff spot while not being suckered into a limited market to reach for a starter while sacrificing future success.
It was a solid trade deadline for the Braves as they did what they needed to do. Nothing more, nothing less.
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