There are two glaring holes on this roster—left-handed relief and bench depth. The latest rumors certainly touch on the fact that the bullpen needs help, though there really isn't too much going on in terms of bench help.
That said, there's a bit of a surprising rumor that the Braves may be toying with ahead of the deadline that would make the lack of bench depth less apparent.
Read below for the latest buzz surrounding the Braves.
David Price, Jon Lester
Jon Lester and David Price squared off last Friday night, but that wasn't the only clash going on in the ballpark. Multiple teams had scouts on hand to get a look at both starters ahead of the deadline, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal:
Both starters have been the subject of trade rumors recently, though it's unclear which starter the Braves were in attendance for. Maybe it was both. Maybe it was just one of the two. Regardless, it appears that Atlanta isn't comfortable with its rotation of Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Ervin Santana, Aaron Harang and Alex Wood.
Both starters would be upgrades to the rotation. That said, the price may simply be too high for the Braves, and not only because of each left-hander's pedigree. Their numbers this season are also superb:
|David Price||11-7, 3.08 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 183 SO, 163.2 IP|
|Jon Lester||10-7, 2.52 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 149 SO, 143 IP|
The Braves have good talent in the farm system to deal, but acquiring starting pitching should not be the priority right now. Sure, it's hard to argue with bringing in one of the two aforementioned aces, but shoring up other areas instead of masking them is paramount.
Instead of Lester or Price, the Braves need to find some depth.
"Atlanta has identified lefty in the pen as its biggest need," writes CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, and David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Andrew Miller is one of the team's top targets to fix the issues in the pen:
Miller has been great for the Boston Red Sox for three straight seasons. Since he began his tenure in Boston, Miller owns an ERA of 3.83 (3.56 FIP), 1.395 WHIP and 214 strikeouts in 176.1 innings pitched. Those numbers are a bit skewed, as he was a starter in his first season with the Sox.
Now strictly a reliever, Miller is a great lefty specialist. He can strike out any of the lefties in the American League, mostly because of his great fastball and decent control.
Miller is arguably the top lefty available. This is exactly the type of move the Braves need to make. Here's why.
Take a look at the National League East. Powerful lefties like Bryce Harper, Chase Utley, Curtis Granderson and others grace the lineups of the Braves' biggest rivals.
Currently without a lefty-stopper in the pen, the Braves have put themselves at risk against these hitters. Miller would mitigate the risk and give them a quality option to combat those hitters.
James Russell, Oliver Perez
The Braves are desperate to add a lefty arm. Just how desperate? Well, ESPN's Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required) reports that the Braves have looked everywhere: "The Braves have touched base with every team that has an available left-handed reliever, with James Russell of the Cubs and Oliver Perez of the Arizona Diamondbacks among possibilities."
The Chicago Cubs and Diamondbacks should both be in positions to sell. Neither is nearing a playoff push this season. Both Russell and Perez are assets who could net solid returns considering their status as specialists in the bullpen.
Perez has re-invented himself as a reliever over the past three seasons. This year has been his best, as evidenced by his 2.04 ERA (2.50 FIP), 1.160 WHIP and 46 strikeouts in 39.2 innings pitched.
Under contract through 2015, Perez would require slightly more to acquire than a rental would. A top-10 prospect should be enough to entice the D'Backs.
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR