The demotion of Luis Avilan cemented the fact that the Braves' biggest need at the July 31 trade deadline is left-handed relief.
The Braves have just one lefty in Chasen Shreve, who was just recently promoted to Atlanta.
Undoubtedly, general manager Frank Wren is searching for a more reliable option for the stretch run.
A top-end starting pitcher would make a huge splash, but the Braves don't have the financial flexibility to pull off such a move. Even if they did, the Braves would be hesitant to deal multiple top prospects in risking the future of the franchise.
David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that's who the Braves are targeting.
Andrew Miller is lefty #Braves want, but Red Sox might not deal him long as they think they have a decent playoff chance.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) July 22, 2014
The interest makes perfect sense from the Braves' perspective.
The 29-year-old and former first-round pick has put up some gaudy numbers out of the bullpen his past three seasons with the Red Sox.
His ERA has dropped each of the last three seasons from 3.35 to 2.64 and 2.31 this season.
Meanwhile, his strikeouts per nine innings have escalated from 11.4 to 14.1 and 14.5 this season. His 14.5 K/9 is similar to the 15.0 that closer Craig Kimbrel has posted.
Miller has also demonstrated control on the mound with a 0.95 WHIP while holding left-handed hitters to just a .155 average.
Clearly Miller would be an upgrade over Avilan on the mound, who had a 4.85 ERA and 1.65 WHIP with lefties hitting .277 off him this season.
Adding Miller wouldn't require a big financial commitment from the Braves and keep the top prospects within the organization.
Miller is signed through the 2014 season (free agent after this year) for $1.9 million, which would leave approximately $800,000 left on his deal that the Braves would owe.
The Braves could add another prospect in order to get the Red Sox to pay most or all of the remaining salary if they'd prefer to go that route.
Speaking of prospects, I wouldn't expect more than a mid-level prospect to acquire Miller.
A Cody Martin or Aaron Northcraft should be enough to entice the Red Sox. While both are solid prospects, neither are considered elite.
Acquiring Miller won't make a huge splash on or leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
However, it would fill the Braves' biggest need and would clearly make them a better team for the stretch run.
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