Predicting in-Season Trades Atlanta Braves Will Need to Make
The Atlanta Braves (13-7) look poised for another playoff run as they once again sit atop the National League East Division.
Obviously, a lot can change over the course of 162 games, but the Braves have key parts to make another playoff run.
You can bet that as the July 31 trade deadline approaches, general manager Frank Wren will be looking for ways to strengthen the ball club.
As we near the end of the first month, the trade market has not fully developed, but we are getting a glimpse of what it could look like.
As I mentioned earlier, a lot can change between now and the end of July; however, here's a few early names to monitor as potential Braves' targets leading up to the 2014 trade deadline.
1. Mike Adams
The Atlanta Braves' bullpen has not been as dominant to begin the 2014 season as they have the past couple seasons.
As a team, they rank 11th in the National League with a 4.26 ERA.
The Braves added Scott Downs at the trade deadline a year ago, and I could see them looking at relief pitching help this time around.
Right-hander Mike Adams could be a potential target.
The 35-year-old has posted a 2.38 ERA in his 10-year career and would provide some added depth from the right side.
Adams will be a free agent after this season, and the Philadelphia Phillies will likely be looking to get younger at the trade deadline.
2. Joe Thatcher
Another relief pitcher the Braves could look at is Arizona Diamondbacks' reliever Joe Thatcher.
The 33-year-old would provide manager Fredi Gonzalez depth from the left side of the pen if Jonny Venters does not return to his old form.
Thatcher struggled in 2013, posting a 6.75 ERA, but has rebounded to begin 2014 with a 1.13 ERA, which more closely resembles his 3.26 career ERA.
Besides the on-the-field fit, Thatcher to the Braves would make sense in other ways.
The Diamondbacks will probably be sellers at the deadline with a MLB-worst 5-17 record to begin the season.
We also know that Wren and Diamondbacks' general manager Kevin Towers have worked together recently in trades, such as those of Justin Upton, Chris Johnson, Randall Delgado and Martin Prado.
Thatcher is not a flashy name but would fit the bill of what the Braves could target in July.
3. Emilio Bonifacio
The only reason the Braves would target Emilio Bonifacio would be if something were to happen to one of their regulars.
I'm not trying to jinx anyone, but the pitching rotation serves as a prime place where injuries become a factor every season.
If something were to happen, Bonifacio would be a great fit as a starter or bench player. The key with Bonifacio is his versatility.
Bonifacio has played second base, shortstop, third base and center field already in 2014. The 28-year-old also can switch-hit and would be able to hit lead off for Gonzalez.
He is off to one of his better starts to this 2014 season as he's hitting .351 with a .407 on-base percentage and nine stolen bases.
It's no secret the Chicago Cubs are in rebuilding mode and would look to grab a couple prospects if the right deal surfaced.