Atlanta Braves Trade Rumors: A Reliever Is More Important Than a Big Bat

Jonah P DAnalyst IJuly 26, 2011

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 12:  National League All-Star Tyler Clippard #36 of the Washington Nationals throws a pitch in the fourth inning of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Atlanta Braves GM Frank Wren has taken it upon himself to look for a trade from which the Braves can acquire a big bat in the outfield to improve their struggling offense.

However, it seems that the Braves' need of a relief pitcher is just as pressing of a matter, if not even more pressing.

So far this season, the Braves have compiled 15 losses from their bullpen, which is a fairly high number for one of the best pitching staffs in the league.

Two of the other best pitching staffs in the NL are the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies, who have 12 and 10 losses from their bullpens, respectively.

Think about it: If the Braves had the same amount of losses from their bullpen as the Phillies, they would be 1.5 games closer to the Phillies in the standings.

Perhaps this issue could be solved by the Braves adding an extra arm to their bullpen.

Jonny Venters, Craig Kimbrel and Eric O'Flaherty, arguably the best trio of relievers in the league, were very much overused in the first half of the season.

Fredi Gonzalez seems to have realized this, because he has lately been putting relievers such as Cristhian Martinez, Scott Proctor and Cory Gearrin into the end of games. These three are not the most consistent pitchers; they have ERAs of 4.10, 7.36 and 7.35.

While it seems inadvisable to continue to put these pitchers into the game, it is completely necessary in order to save the arms of Venters, Kimbrel and O'Flaherty.

Combined, these three Braves have pitched 158 innings.

To put this amount of innings into perspective, the Phillies' three most used relievers have pitched a total of 110.2 innings, and the Giants' have pitched 139.1.

And because two of the Braves' most consistent relievers, Peter Moylan and Kris Medlen, are on the DL (possibly for the remainder of the season), the most obvious solution is to trade for a reliever.

It is obvious that the Braves have trade pieces in top prospects, which other teams will be interested in.

There are many relievers currently on the trade market, but in this article, the three best fits for the Braves will be talked about.

Tyler Clippard seems truly ideal, if the Braves can manage to strike up a deal with the Nationals.

The Nats couldn't ask an absurd amount for a setup man. If the Braves do manage to sign Clippard, who has more holds than anyone in the league, their bullpen would be good to go.

Another option is Heath Bell. Bell would also be ideal if it weren't for the current circumstances.

Many teams are looking at Bell, including the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies. The Padres asking price, along with Bell's salary, will be more than the Braves can afford.

Another well-known name on the trade market is Kerry Wood.

He is also being pursued by multiple teams, because his arm would be undoubtedly helpful to any team.

There is, however, a drawback to this. Wood has a no-trade clause in his contract, and because he has played for the Cubs most of his career, he is unlikely to leave.

The most likely and most helpful option for the Braves is Tyler Clippard, who would be extremely helpful to the Braves team.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.