Braves' Final Guide, Ideal Targets for 2021 MLB Trade Deadline
It's been a trying season for the Atlanta Braves, from injuries to several key members of their pitching staff to the loss of superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. for the year to a torn ACL.
Even with a roster that has been stretched to the limit and a sub-.500 record, they are still only five games back in a wide-open National League East race.
Will that be reason enough for them to buy at the deadline?
After coming one win from the World Series a year ago and with three straight division titles to its credit, this team might not be willing to simply wave the white flag.
Ahead, we've taken a closer look at the buyer vs. seller debate, while also highlighting a pair of players who make sense as potential targets if they do decide to pursue outside additions.
Buyers or Sellers?
The Braves have already added a pair of complementary veterans to the mix in July, acquiring outfielder Joc Pederson from the Chicago Cubs and catcher Stephen Vogt from the Arizona Diamondbacks to help address some of their injury woes.
Both of those players came at a cheap acquisition cost, so it's not necessarily an indication that they are going to be aggressive buyers at the deadline.
Adding another outfielder should be a priority if they continue to buy, and upgrading the bullpen also figures to be on the to-do list.
Alternatively, if they were to pivot to selling, starting pitchers Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly are both pitching on one-year deals and would no doubt generate interest in a thin pitching market.
Adding a few more complementary pieces and perhaps targeting a controllable outfielder to help address what will still be a need in 2022 seems the most likely approach.
Ideal Target: RHP Ryan Tepera, Chicago Cubs
With an $800,000 salary and free agency awaiting this offseason, Ryan Tepera is the definition of a low-cost rental for contenders looking to add to their pool of reliever options.
The 33-year-old has a 2.91 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 10.4 K/9 with 16 holds in 43 appearances serving as one of the primary setup relievers to closer Craig Kimbrel.
There is certainly a chance the Cubs will package Tepera along with one of their high-profile stars in a larger trade, but if he's still available leading up to the deadline, he's a lock to be moved in a small-scale deal for a mid-level prospect.
As long as the acquisition cost is reasonable, the Braves would benefit greatly from adding him to what has been an inconsistent relief corps.
Ideal Target: RF Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners
With Marcell Ozuna away from the team indefinitely facing domestic violence charges and Ronald Acuna Jr. unlikely to be ready for the start of the 2022 season, the Braves are going to need to do something to shore up their outfield contingent.
Enter Mitch Haniger.
He is controllable through the 2022 season and making a reasonable $3.01 million this year, so he would be a nice stopgap to help address the team's outfield need down the stretch and into next season.
The Mariners are surprise contenders, but they have already shown a willingness to toe the line between buyer and seller after trading rental reliever Kendall Graveman to the Houston Astros.
With Kyle Lewis on the recovery trail following knee surgery, Jake Fraley ramping back up after a positive COVID test, and young outfielders Jarred Kelenic and Taylor Trammell also seeing time in the MLB outfield this year, the Mariners could trade from a position of depth if the return makes sense.
A controllable pitcher like Kyle Wright or Bryse Wilson might pique their interest.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.