Atlanta Braves Trade Speculation: 8 Bats to Help Mask Heyward, Uggla's Struggles

Will BrownContributor IJuly 25, 2011

Atlanta Braves Trade Speculation: 8 Bats to Help Mask Heyward, Uggla's Struggles

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    The Atlanta Braves are 59-43 in large part because of their pitching staff. The Braves have struggled some in that department in the second half, but are still sixth in the league in ERA.

    A large problem with the inconsistency of the offense has been the highly-noted struggles of Dan Uggla (.195/.270/.388) and the lesser-noted struggles of Jason Heyward (.224/.312/.413).

    While I wrote last week that Uggla seems to have turned things around, there is a chance that he could slide back, though I don't think that he will. Heyward has battled a shoulder problem all year, and it has showed on the field.

    With that said, it has been well-publicized that the Braves are looking for an impact bat, preferably a right-handed power-hitting outfielder. There a couple of big name guys that the organization is looking at, but I think some others are much more likely.

    In this article, I'll talk about eight guys of varying levels of impact that I think the Braves will make a move for. Some will come at a much cheaper price, while others will cost some big parts of the farm system.

Jonny Gomes

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    One of the biggest problems the offense has had this season has been their incredible struggles to hit left-handed pitchers (.211/.284/.341). Gomes could defintely help out in this category.

    Gomes is kind of being seen as an outside guy in a loaded Reds outfield, but he is hitting .340/.446/.547 with three homers in 53 at-bats against lefties. 

    That would be a huge help for the Braves, though he has been awful against right-handers this season. A trade for Gomes would also very likely be pretty cheap, and he could end up as a good platoon player or as a huge bat off the bench.

Josh Willingham

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    In my opinion, a trade for Willingham is probably more likely than any other name on this list, but I don't know that it fits extremely well.

    Sure, Willingham would be another fairly cheap bat, but he's not exactly been crushing left-handed pitchers, as he has posted a slash of .218/.292/.437 against them, though he has hit five homers in 87 at-bats.

    Willingham is a very solid all around player. He would give the Braves a guy with decent pop and good baseball smarts. He wouldn't be a exciting get, but he would help the Braves out some offensively.

Carlos Quentin

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    If nothing else, Quentin would fill the Braves need for a power bat in the outfield. The slugger has launched 20 big flies this season while posting a slash of .266/.359/.523.

    Quentin would be more expensive than the two previous guys, but the Braves would be able to make it happen without giving up one of their top arms.

    Quentin is a good player and is only 28 years old and won't be a free agent until 2013, so the Braves would get another full season with him.

Ryan Ludwick

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    Ludwich has hit well against lefties this season with slash of .271/.333/.424, and a move out of Petco Park would probably help get some of his power back.

    Ludwick falls into the category of a guy that wouldn't be a blockbuster move but wouldn't be very expensive, and the Braves again wouldn't have to put Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado on the table to grab him.

    Ludwick would be a solid player that could provide occasional streaks of power. 

Marlon Byrd

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    Nothing has really been brought up about Byrd as a trade candidate, but the possibility hasn't also been discounted by the Cubs. Byrd is hitting .314 this year with an OPS of .799. He's only hit five homers in 63 games, but has racked up 12 doubles.

    I don't know how much the Cubs would ask for Byrd, but he could fill in the void in center field that the Braves have had for the last few seasons. 

    Byrd is a good player that is solid across the board, though doesn't stand out in any facet of the game.

Michael Bourn

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    Though Bround doesn't bring any power to the table, he does play center field and is leading the majors in steals at 37.

    Bourn is hitting .301 and has racked up 24 doubles and seven triples so far this season for the Astros.

    Unlike some of the other names on this list, Bourn would be pretty expensive, and it is unlikely that the Braves will make a push for him. If they did, though, it would greatly help the lineup and team. 

Carlos Beltran

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    Beltran is the most talked about trade bait right now on TV, and for good reason. The 34-year-old switch hitter has posted a slash of .291/.391/.519 while hitting 30 doubles and 15 homers.

    The problem is that Beltran will be a free agent after this year and is going to be pretty expensive to get. The Mets are wanting a trade with the Braves that centers around Mike Minor, and it is unknown what the Braves really want to do with him. They have come out and said that they weren't trading Julio Teheran, which is certainly good news for Braves fans.

    If the Braves do pull the trigger on a trade for Beltran, then they would become much better offensively and get a guy that has been very good in the postseason in his career.

Hunter Pence

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    Of course I had to end with the guy that has been the most talked about player on this website for the last month, don't I?

    Pence is the best player on the market (unless someone decides to give up the world for Matt Kemp). and someone will have to completely blow the Astros away to get him.

    Pence entered this year having hit exactly 25 homers over the last three years while also stealing 43 bases over that same span. 

    This year, Pence has posted a slash of .309/.354/.474 with 11 homers and seven stolen bases. His numbers could raise drastically on a better team, though, as he has hit .375 this year with runners in scoring position while knocking in 61 runs. 

    Pence would instantly be a middle-of-the-order hitter for the Braves; I just don't think they'll be willing to give up enough for him.