July 22, 2024

The MLB trade deadline is quickly approaching, and discussions will intensify following next week’s All-Star break. For the Braves, there are several areas for potential improvement, primarily on offense, though pitching remains a perennial need.

Hoping for a blockbuster trade this year, especially with Ronald Acuña Jr. and Spencer Strider out for the season, might be unrealistic. Alex Anthopoulos must balance the desire to win now with future needs, but it’s the under-the-radar deals where he has truly excelled.

Anthopoulos has built his reputation on savvy acquisitions, identifying value where others don’t. The 2021 trade deadline is a prime example: he secured outfielders Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, and Adam Duvall without sacrificing top prospects, ultimately leading the Braves to their first World Series title since 1995.

This past offseason was another example of Anthopoulos’ acumen. Many thought Chris Sale’s best years were behind him, allowing Anthopoulos to acquire him from the Red Sox for just Vaughn Grissom, with Boston covering nearly all of Sale’s salary. Sale is now making his eighth All-Star appearance in his first season with the Braves. Additionally, Reynaldo Lopez, signed to a three-year, $30 million contract, has excelled as a starter, leading MLB in ERA and all NL pitchers in WAR.

Anthopoulos’ tenure is full of such successful acquisitions. At the 2022 trade deadline, he struck gold again by trading Tucker Davidson and Jesse Chavez to the Angels for Raisel Iglesias. The Braves assumed Iglesias’ $48 million contract, despite his 4.04 ERA at the time. Post-trade, Iglesias recorded a 0.34 ERA over the final two months of the season.

Tucker Davidson didn’t pan out for the Angels, and Jesse Chavez returned to Atlanta after being designated for assignment. Iglesias has since posted a 2.01 ERA over 117 innings for the Braves, while Chavez has maintained a 2.07 ERA over 87 innings.

This incredible value from a seemingly minor trade demonstrates Anthopoulos’ prowess. As the trade deadline nears, despite limited prospect capital, it’s unwise to bet against what Anthopoulos might accomplish for the Braves.

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