Braves narrowing focus as deadline nears
Approximately 72 hours before this year’s Trade Deadline arrives, the Braves are starting to put a closer focus on their desires to add a right-handed hitting outfielder and right-handed reliever. Time is running out and options are too.
The Braves crossed two players off their wish list Wednesday when the Mets traded Carlos Beltran to the Giants and when Blue Jays’ right-handed reliever Jason Frasor ended up with the White Sox.
Speaking of the White Sox, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted this afternoon that the Braves are “hot” after Carlos Quentin. Well we know the Braves have interest in Quentin before and we also know that the White Sox had a couple scouts in Atlanta during the first week of this month.
But with the White Sox just 3 1/2 games out in the American League Central (think NFC West), the White Sox still are in great position. In addition, highly-regarded prospect Dayan Viciedo’s injured thumb seemingly casts greater doubt about whether the White Sox would be willing to move Quentin.
If the Braves are going to make a significant acquisition before Sunday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, it will likely come in the form of Rays’ outfielder B.J. Upton, who could spend the final two months of this season as Atlanta’s starting center fielder and leadoff hitter. The Rays have had a scout in Atlanta throughout this week’s series against the Pirates.
The Braves will likely have to part ways with Mike Minor or another of their top pitching prospects to get Upton, who could make approximately $7 million during his final arbitration-eligible season next year.
Upton seemingly makes much more sense than the Astros’ Hunter Pence, who could make closer to $11 million via arbitration next year.
The Astros are looking to gain a significant return for Pence, who is their most marketable player (think Jeff Francoeur, if things had gone according to play in Atlanta). A Major League source said he believes the outfielder will end up with the Phillies this weekend or possibly during the offseason.
The Braves are also looking at players like Ryan Ludwick and Josh Willingham. Because he is clearly the better and more versatile defender, Ludwick seems to be the better option.
If the Braves land Willingham or Ludwick, they will likely platoon with Jason Heyward in right field and spend some time in left field when Martin Prado is playing third base.
With the Braves planning to give third baseman Chipper Jones regular rest down the stretch, Prado could be spending a lot of time at third base.