Braves Trade Rumors: Last-Minute Buzz Ahead of the Deadline

Martin Gandy@gondeeeFeatured ColumnistJuly 30, 2014

Jul 25, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Diego Padres center fielder Chris Denorfia (13) runs back to third base while Atlanta Braves third baseman Chris Johnson (23) stops the throw from the outfield during the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves trade rumors can be hard to come by. The Atlanta front office has been historically tight-lipped about possible deals in the works, and that is not likely to change as this year’s trade deadline nears.

With an impermeable front office, the Atlanta beat writers who cover the team on a daily basis are generally devoid of any solid rumors. What rumors they do report are usually ones that have already been reported on by writers in other cities or national writers.

This makes for an awkward Braves rumor mill, as writers for other teams get the scoop on the most believable Braves rumors.

One current rumor has New York Post columnist Joel Sherman tweeting about the Braves’ interest in Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia.

Hard to figure how a New York writer has the scoop on a player on a California team being pursued by teams in the South and the Pacific Northwest. Geographic believability aside, reporters can have a diverse assortment of sources, and so Braves fans are left to cobble together these sorts of disparate rumors.

Quite often the Braves are included in trade rumors where a bunch of teams are reportedly involved in trying to acquire a player. Sometimes this is simply speculation because Atlanta’s needs seem to match up with the seller’s product. The Braves also tend to be included in any rumor for a player who is from Georgia or a neighboring state. writer Jayson Stark checks both of those boxes in his latest column about Red Sox starter Jon Lester's trade rumors:

The Braves have been telling teams they can't take on money. So the $4.5 million Lester still has coming this year might be an issue. But Lester does live in Sharpsburg, Ga., in the offseason and loves the area. So this is another team that makes sense -- on that level, at least.

One reason the Braves may be mentioned in this rumor is their reported interest in another Red Sox pitcher, lefty reliever Andrew Miller. In a rare acknowledgement of needs, the Braves front office has stated that it is in the market for left-handed relief help as well as right-handed pinch-hitting help. Miller would fit the bill for Atlanta as an experienced southpaw to pitch out of the pen. writer Jon Heyman was first in reporting the Braves strong interest in Miller while also mentioning Atlanta’s possible interest in a few other left-handed relievers:

Atlanta has identified lefty in the pen as its biggest need, with Oliver Perez, who interested the Braves in the winter, Wesley Wright, Neal Cotts, Tony Sipp and Mike Dunn are among other accomplished pen lefties believed available in trade.

The Atlanta beat writers do their best to follow up on these rumors, but quite often the best they can do is to speculate like the rest of us.

The lack of substantial rumors out of the Braves front office can lead to some pretty big surprises. I covered many of these surprise blockbuster trades of deadlines past in my column last week.


Can a Rumor Catch a Break?

Events on the ground can rapidly change how a team approaches the trade deadline. A month ago, it was assumed that rookie reliever Shae Simmons would be a viable late-inning setup man out of the Atlanta bullpen.

Yesterday Simmons (the reliever) was placed on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain, an injury that had apparently been dogging him for almost a month. With the unknowns about his recovery time and return to an effective role at the end of games, the Braves may accelerate their search for relief help.

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 16: Andrew Miller #30 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the eighth inning at Fenway Park on June 16, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won 1-0. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
Rich Gagnon/Getty Images

They may also be willing to raise their offer and meet the price of teams that are selling premium bullpen arms. This development makes the Braves acquisition of a reliever before the deadline much more of a possibility than it was a week ago.

Sometimes even the most seemingly benign injuries near the deadline can lead a team to trade for insurance. Outfielder Jason Heyward was removed from the game on Monday with a sore back, an injury that will supposedly only keep him out of the lineup for a few games.

In order to protect themselves against Heyward missing any significant time, Atlanta could step up its pursuit of Denorfia from the Padres. A move like that would not only give the Braves an outfield insurance policy, but would also leave them with a proven right-handed pinch-hitter should everyone remain healthy.

No doubt the wheels are in motion and the BlackBerrys are buzzing in the Atlanta front office. It should be an exciting next day-and-a-half in the lead-up to Thursday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trade deadline.


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