With the race in the National League East tighter than ever, the Atlanta Braves need to make a move or two to shore up some holes on their roster.
Luckily, a few deals might be in the works.
The MLB's non-waiver trade deadline is on Thursday. That means there could be a ton of movement over the next several days. The Braves certainly won't be sellers, so expect some talent to be heading their way.
A team with 57 wins at this point in the season is in good shape, but with the Washington Nationals currently owning the top spot in the division, the Braves can't stop here.
Take a look at the latest trade rumors surrounding the team.
Out on David Price?
Starting pitching is often an area of need for teams looking to get that extra edge in July, but the Braves are strong on that front. A rotation headlined by Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and Ervin Santana is solid, while quality guys like Aaron Harang and Alex Wood round out what is a strong core.
That prompted this report from Fox Sports' Jon Morosi:
Braves not actively looking to upgrade their starting rotation, source says. So it appears they are not a serious suitor for Price.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 18, 2014
David Price would certainly be an upgrade to anyone in this rotation not named Teheran. The left-hander owns a 3.08 ERA (2.96 FIP) and a league-leading 183 strikeouts in a league-leading 163.2 innings. He has pitched like the ace the Tampa Bay Rays have needed to get back in the hunt for the American League East crown.
This would imply that it will take a lofty package to pry the 28-year-old away from the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2007.
If Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel netted the Chicago Cubs Addison Russell, then Price is probably worth both of the Braves' top prospects: Lucas Sims and Christian Bethancourt.
The Braves have enough pitching talent to continue their push towards the playoffs. Other areas—like a left-handed reliever and bench bat—are more pressing issues as of today.
Don't be shocked if Price moves last minute and the Braves are in the discussion, but don't be upset if they ultimately did not want to part with their talented youngsters.
B. J. Upton for Sale
The Braves already got rid of one struggling veteran when they released second baseman Dan Uggla. The team is now reportedly looking to unload another albatross contract.
Peter Gammons tweets that the Braves are looking for anybody to take B. J. Upton off their hands:
Gm post-Uggla:"Braves desperate to get someone to take BJ Upton at almost any cost."— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 19, 2014
Upton, the No. 2 pick in the 2002 draft by the Rays, has struggled mightily since he signed with Atlanta prior to the 2013 campaign. Last season, he slashed .184/.268/.289 with nine homers, 26 RBI and 12 steals.
He has upped his game this year to the tune of .217/.284/.339, but he leads the league with 127 strikeouts. Never known for making a ton of contact, Upton is striking out at an alarming pace this season—even for him.
Which team will take on Upton?
Maybe a change of scenery will help the 29-year-old outfielder. While not one to post average over .250 very consistently, Upton has never struggled this much. He hit .255/.336/.422 with the Rays in eight seasons prior to coming to Atlanta, so these struggles are a new thing.
Owed more than $50 million through the 2017 season, Upton definitely isn't a cheap option. The team that takes him on must have the confidence that he'll rebound and at least be a semi-useful bat in the bottom-third of its order.
Braves Have Scouted Andrew Miller
With left-handed relief one of Atlanta's biggest needs, searching far and wide for an option is in the team's best interest. Their search has most recently brought them to Boston Red Sox southpaw Andrew Miller, reports David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman confirmed the report:
braves looking at andrew miller and other pen lefties; even bigger moves probably unlikely. http://t.co/Cp1H11AZ6S— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 27, 2014
Miller, 29, is enjoying his third fine season in a row for the Red Sox. He currently owns a 2.45 ERA (1.82 FIP) and a WHIP of 0.942 over 40.1 innings, striking out 65 batters along the way. He's the type of lefty that managers love. Not only does he get outs, he gets outs without allowing runners to move up bases.
Striking out so many batters (lefty or otherwise) is a great way to become a stalwart in a big-league bullpen. Power pitchers are what make good bullpens great. The Braves already have a good bullpen, headlined by Craig Kimbrel, but adding Miller into the mix would be a great move.
It shouldn't take too much for the Braves to grab Miller—perhaps their No. 10 prospect, pitcher Aaron Northcraft—so this is a deal that must be made.
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR