Atlanta Braves Trade Rumors: Braves Still Have Options Without Hunter Pence
A few hearts broke in Atlanta on Friday along with the news that Houston Astros All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence had been traded not to the Braves, but to the Philadelphia Phillies.
The insult of losing out on yet another big bat was one thing for Braves fans to endure, after watching so helplessly as general manager Frank Wren ducked out of the Carlos Beltran negotiations, only to see the San Francisco Giants snatch him from the New York Mets. The real injury lies in Pence now playing for the Phillies, who now own both a commanding five-game lead over the Braves in the National League East standings and a significant psychological advantage over their divisional rivals with the big move.
With the Phillies putting the Braves in check, the onus is on Atlanta to come up with a counter. Luckily for Wren, there is no shortage of options with which to do so.
There's no doubt the Braves need an outfielder, especially with Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafter both injured, not to mention Jason Hayward's sophomore struggles at the plate.
Atlanta could very well take a cue from Philadelphia and look to Houston for the services of the speedy Michael Bourn (.304 batting average, .364 on-base percentage, 39 stolen bases), who would provide a spark for a team that struggles to get on base and, with just 41 steals so far this season, has even greater difficulty doing anything once they're on.
On the flip side, the Braves haven't had any problem hitting home runs, with 114 dingers in 107 games, though that all-or-nothing approach has also yielded 824 strikeouts, good for third-most in all of baseball.
However, if Wren finds himself power-hungry at Sunday's deadline, he could ostensibly swing a deal for Josh Willingham of the Oakland A's or Ryan Ludwick of the San Diego Padres, both of whom could be had along with a reliever or two.
As underwhelming as those options may seem, those are unfortunately the best and possibly only ones the Bravos have after playing hard-to-get with Beltran and Pence. Chances are, they'll be paying for it come October.
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