3 Trades That Could Take the Atlanta Braves to the Next Level
The Atlanta Braves (52-43) enter the second half of the season looking for their third consecutive playoff berth and a chance at their first World Series title since 1995.
The Braves sit atop the National League East division in a tie with the Washington Nationals, so it won't be easy for them.
Due to the fact they have notoriously enjoyed many playoff berths without rings over the past three decades, the next level for the organization is a title.
Following are examples of deals that would make the Braves one of the favorites for this year's World Series title. They would also take a lot of creativity from general manager Frank Wren and some financial flexibility from ownership (Liberty Media).
As a result, I would say the following deals are unlikely.
However, projecting what could happen is what the trade deadline is all about.
Here are three trades that would make the Braves one of the top favorites to win this season's World Series.
1. David Price
The David Price-to-Atlanta Braves speculation won't go away until the pitcher is traded and signs a long-term deal with another organization.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com recently sparked the rumors again by saying that Price would prefer to be traded to the Braves.
Acquiring Price would require the Braves to trade away many of their top prospects.
Jeff Samardzija netted a return of one of the top prospects in the game in Addison Russell. However, because the Braves don't have a prospect of that caliber, it would take many quality prospects for them to even start a conversation with the Rays (Lucas Sims, Christian Bethancourt, Jose Peraza).
That's a lot to give up, but imagine a starting rotation in the postseason with Price, Julio Teheran, Ervin Santana and Mike Minor.
That would give the Braves a rotation that could rival the Los Angeles Dodgers and give them a much better chance than the roster currently stands at reaching the World Series.
2. Chase Utley/Jonathan Papelbon
This deal would give the Braves an All-Star second baseman and fill their need for more depth in the bullpen.
The combination of Jonathan Papelbon and Craig Kimbrel would be a nasty way to close out games in the postseason.
Both pitchers have averaged more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings for their careers.
Meanwhile, adding a bat like Chase Utley would add some legitimacy and consistency to an up-and-down lineup.
The 35-year-old second baseman has enjoyed an improved 2014 season with a .293 average and 46 RBI for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Utley could slide into the No. 2 hole in Atlanta's lineup and thrive hitting in front of Freddie Freeman.
The prospects required would once again be steep, but the finances of acquiring Utley and Papelbon would be the major obstacle.
3. Jon Lester/Andrew Miller
David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently reported that Andrew Miller is the Braves' top target this trade deadline.
It makes sense. The Braves are looking for a left-handed reliever, given Luis Avilan's continued struggles.
Wren could go a step further and add a key lefty piece as well as a top-end starter.
Jon Lester is having an All-Star season in 2014 with a 2.65 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 129 innings for the Boston Red Sox.
He also has a 2.11 career postseason ERA and went 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA in two World Series starts last season.
Like Price, Lester would give the Braves an impressive starting rotation for the postseason.