The Braves make no deal at the deadline – and that’s just fine

Sometimes there’s no deal to be made. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

The Braves made the obvious trade last week, moving Jaime Garcia to the Twins, who have since re-gifted him to the Yankees. A market for left-handed starting pitchers, even if they’re rentals and nothing special, always exists. Beyond Garcia, this year’s market failed the Braves.

They got nothing for Bartolo Colon because he was so bad he was already gone. They got nothing for R.A. Dickey because they like him and will make him a part of their 2018 rotation. They got nothing for Brandon Phillips because every good team has a solid second baseman. (Maybe they can do a waiver deal.) They got nothing for Matt Adams because he’s a one-position hitter who’s set to be arbitration-eligible. They got nothing for Jim Johnson because he, as he sometimes does, turned terrible.

We mention those guys because they’re the ones the Braves would have liked most to trade. They’re older guys, some on expiring contracts, others without a clear role in this team’s future. Trouble was, they were also guys nobody else wanted. The Braves most wanted by other teams are the guys the Braves refuse to trade.

The season’s first 90 games were a false clue. Going 45-45 was accomplished with minimal contributions from the prospects the Braves have spent three years amassing. It’s heartening that the Braves could hang around .500 so long with what, with a few exceptions, was a roster made up of place-holders, but this team was constructed to get the Braves a half-season closer to the team that will matter, the team that’s still in the process – that word again – of being built.

That the deadline passed Monday with the Braves doing nothing means next to nothing in the grand scheme. It would have been nice if they could have hooked more prospects for Adams or Phillips or Johnson, but – cue Mick and his merry band – you can’t always get what you want.

As for not landing Sonny Gray: I’m sorry, but that had no chance of happening. Gray was always going to fall to a team willing to sell several of its prospects, and the Yankees wound up being that sell. If we go by MLB Pipeline’s rankings, New York traded the No. 4, 8 and 12 prospects from a very good farm system. If the Braves had traded the No. 4, 8 and 12 prospects from an even better chain, here’s who’d be headed to Oakland:

No. 4 Kyle Wright, whom the Braves just drafted fifth overall and who was considered by many the best pitcher in this class. He’s 21.

No. 8 Luiz Gohara, whom the Braves plucked from Seattle in the Mallex Smith deal and who has risen from High-A to Triple-A in the span of four months. He made his first start for Gwinnett on Friday night in Syracuse. (I was on hand.) He yielded no hits through three innings and ended the third with a strikeout on a 97-mile heater. His slider wasn’t biting, though, and he walked five and left in the fifth having thrown 90 pitches. He’s 21.

No. 12 Christian Pache, an international signing in 2015 who has played 92 games above rookie ball. He has shown no power – he hasn’t hit a professional home run – but he can hit for average and really run. Some envision the burgeoning Ronald Acuna and Pache alongside one another in a big-league outfield. Pache is 19.

Such a trade made sense for the Yankees because they’ve got Aaron Judge and Luis Severino and Gary Sanchez and, duh, they’re in first place. When the Braves were 45-45, they were six games back of the second wild card with a 4.8 percent chance of making the playoffs. As of Monday morning, those odds, per FanGraphs, were down to 0.2 percent. Reality has descended, as reality will.

Maybe you’re wondering why the Braves wouldn’t give up three young guys who might or might not make it in the majors – the travails of Dansby Swanson have been a sobering reminder that not every career path is a giddy glide – for a guy (Gray) who has made it, at least when healthy. For the same reason they wouldn’t throw Swanson, then their No. 1 prospect, into a trade for Chris Sale. Having a No. 1 starter is never a bad thing, but the Braves don’t have a team to go with such a pitcher. That team is, or will be, these prospects.

Before the 2015 deadline, John Coppolella made a trade – the Hector Olivera one – that really wasn’t there. He was also new to the job. (Officially, he wasn’t yet the general manager.) His post-Garcia choices at this deadline amounted to two: Sacrifice the future by making a deal no rebuilding team should make, or make no deal at all. He chose the latter. Good for him.

Dispatches from the Empire State (not the building):

Another Brave in the Hall of Fame: John Schuerholz, the architect.

John Schuerholz, Hall of Famer: He changed the Braves — and Atlanta.

Dansby Swanson after his demotion: “Wherever they put me.”

Trade talk:

The Braves at the deadline: Don’t expect much (but you never know).

Moving man: Jaime Garcia, former Brave, is now a former Twin.

The Braves will not trade Ronald Acuna for Sonny Gray, it says here.

Here’s why the Braves traded Jaime Garcia — asset acquisition.

Asking yet again: Should the Braves trade Julio Teheran?

Reader Comments 0

54 comments
vaebam
vaebam

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Jpace
Jpace

I watched and heard the half-inning interview with John Hart last night. My suggestion to the Braves is "keep him off the air". He uses way too much triteness to say so little". We are getting toward the end of the 4th consecutive year of losing baseball in Atlanta since the swoon of 2014. Braves top management wouldn't describe the post-2014 contract dumping (needed to happen) as a "rebuild". Instead, they promised to remain competitive in the short term so they could contend by the time they moved to the new stadium. They did neither. For the most part, I believe that AJC has given top managers (and particularly the ownership) a free pass. Beautiful stadium, generally poor play since 2014 and hoping for better next year...always next year. It's time for the AJC and other local sports commentators to demand better than we are getting from the Braves.

DamonH
DamonH

If you want to make a rebuttal on your article:

Serious (and shocking) question: Are the Braves a playoff team?

feel free to!

Bob_the_Blogger
Bob_the_Blogger

I agree with Mr. Bradley's point that Gray would not make the Braves contenders in 2018. They need more starting and relief pitching to make a serious run. The young pitchers are on the way, but remember they may need 50 or so starts to show their potential (note: Folty has 57 starts).  Fifty starts is a year and a half, so compute how long it will take for Newcomb and Sims to get there, then Soroka, Allard, etc.

TideDawg
TideDawg

I don't understand how the Braves can keep Lane Adams out of the lineup. He can hit, he's fast, and he hustles. Two outfield positions are going to be open....left field and right field. Acuna gets one and they better try Adams at the other or someone is going to get a prize in a trade.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Apparently the Braves don't have a veteran player(Markakis, Kemp, Phillips, ex) that any team wanted. Not that my opinion counts, but I think the Braves did exactly what they wanted to do....no panic trade. Other teams injuries and needs will develop before this season ends and the Braves will benefit by getting rid of 1 or 2 of those aging veterans. I didn't like Kemp when they got him last year, but I've grown to respect his efforts and clubhouse demeanor. He should go to an American League team because he doesn't have enough left in the tank to play defense and offense. I like Adams at first but there's no place for him with the talent coming up. I think Camargo will keep the SS position and if Swanson comes back he'll play second or they may try him at third and let Albies get a shot at second. The only thing I worry about is they will find an excuse to let Snitker go. I strongly believe Washington was not hired to coach 3rd base. Washington is qualified to manage any team but Snitker is the best choice to manage the Braves. I hope he stays.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Not to keep piling on, but there is a point to be made that the tanking strategy was not necessary. The top two Braves in terms of WAR are Freeman at 3.3 and Inciarte at 2.0. I believe Garcia may still be fourth on the team in WAR, which is just sad. Quickly, I counted six 2014 ex-Braves with 2017 to-date WAR over 2.0: Simmons (who should still be our shortstop for years to come) at 5.2, Justin Upton at 4.0, Ervin Santana at 3.6, Kimbrel at 2.5, Wood and Heyward (who wouldn't have signed here, no issue trading him) at 2.1. Later arrival Cameron Maybin is 2.0 (as is Inciarte). There were a couple of guys they needed to dump or bite the bullet on, but similar patience and a moderate investment might have put that core back into contention, and possibly sooner.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

I'll repeat a comment I made further down on the blog, these Questions go out to all Braves fans: Do you believe Bradley that the Braves could have acquired Chris Sale if they would have parted with Dansby Swanson as the key player in the trade? Do you believe that more than two possibly three of Coppy's prized pitching prospect will ever be part of a pennant winning team with the Braves? (there are at least 10 to pick from) Would you rather have Chris Sale and Sonny Gray at the top of the Braves pitching rotation in 2017, 2018 and possibly beyond? 

Trade one before the 2017 season: Dansby Swanson, Kolby Allard and Matt Wisler for Chris Sale.


Trade two made at yesterday's deadline. Mike Soroka, Max Fried and Kyle Muller for Sonny Gray.


Now before you all call me nuts, realize that the Braves would still have Wright, Gohara, Anderson. Wentz, Sims, Toussaint, Sanchez, Wilson, Wiegel, and Minter in their system, in addition to Albies, Acuna, Maitan, Riley , etc .

sea8491
sea8491

Anyone have any insights on how long Liberty Media will keep ownership of the Atlanta Braves?


Whats Mark Cuban doing these days?


Bradley, you have any insights?

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@sea8491 Not until Liberty can squeeze the last dime out of Cobb County and  their Real Estate venture (The Braves and the Battery Park).

bfred
bfred

@Buschleaguer @sea8491 I was driving through Denver last week and passed Liberty's headquarters building.  I was highly tempted to get off the highway and spit on their doorstep.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Bradley , you FAIL to mention that the #4 Yankees prospect Dustin Fowler just had Major Knee Surgery and there is no guarantee he will be able to play in 2018. The Yankees #12 pick James  Kaprielian just had Tommy John Surgery on April 18th. Glad to see you still providing cover for Coppy and Hart, the Braves could have put together a group of prospects to get Gray that would likely only needed one prospect of the Braves in the 10 to 20 range. Or now that hindsight is 20/20 the inclusion of Swanson in a trade for Chris Sale appears to have been another missed opportunity for the Braves to acquire a true #1 starter for their rotation. Maybe Coppy should have offered Swanson for Gray, I assume he is Available and as valuable as the Yankees #8 prospect Mateo who is in AA. 

ctbold
ctbold

Everything is great!  It's better than great!  For example, here's a dumb trade the Braves didn't do.  Isn't that great?  It's great!


Coppy woke up this morning even smarter than he was the day before!  Isn't that great?  it's great!


It's not the AJC, folks; it's Bradley.  The AJC was going to retire him, but they couldn't find him, 'cause he now resides in Coppy's basement, the better to make sure Coppy is still great.  (Which he is! He's great!)


He even makes morning coffee great!  He coulda traded the old coffeemaker, but he didn't! Which was great!


The only thing better than what Coppy does is what he doesn't do! Nobody doesn't do things better than Coppy. I wish I could think of an adjective to describe how good he is at that.


Darn it, I can't.  But Mark will tell us tomorrow.

Blitz12003
Blitz12003

Let's be realistic. This is nothing but an investment for Liberty. If anyone thinks that they are going to actually spend money to provide Atlanta with a winning product well, you are going to end up being very disappointed. If they can somehow make the playoffs someday with their draft choices fine but will not spend any money.

Besides they likely spent most of it on Formula 1.

Terpskin
Terpskin

Why did we dump Garcia? He beat the Dodgers in LA in the most entertaining braves game in 3 yrs. we're one game under .500 & looking at a WC possibility, we split the first two in Arizona, but we have no one to pitch game 3. We haven't won a game since. WHY did we throw Garcia away for nothing???

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

Wish we could have traded Liberty Media for another owner.

BBtheKing
BBtheKing

We don't need any trades, we're good enough to lose 4 straight to the worst team in baseball ... Right where we want to be.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

The Braves are a mess. This isn't going to get better until several young pitchers get promoted and as a group produce at the major league level, or they sell the team to someone that is willing to compete in all available channels of talent. Not looking promising for 2018 right now.

PTC DAWG1
PTC DAWG1

Terrible.....just terrible.....

DawgNole
DawgNole

Swept by MLB's worst team and they make no deals.

It's The Atlanta Way.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@58Supersports

Sadly, 58, the Braves are far from the only ATL team that sits on its hands when at least some level of effort to improve would be more appropriate.

Alty Dude
Alty Dude

If they had a chance to trade Albies, Pache, and a pitcher other than Wright.for Gray..I would have done it. Mainly based on what they should have done last year to get Sale...Swanson and any other two prospects. Insert Sale for Colon...we would likely be in the thick of the Wild Card race if not better...and have an Ace for a few years while the other pitching prospects sort it out.

58Supersports
58Supersports

@Alty Dude Not without a good closer, Johnson is junk!

Coppy should have to pay his salary next year out of his own pocket for giving him a 2 year deal. What a waste.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@58Supersports @Alty Dude Coppy could have traded for a top closer if Chris Sale was at the top of the Braves rotation, the Braves have an endless number of prospects in the minors to acquire just about anything a team wanting to win NOW would need. Trouble is WINNING NOW is not as important to Braves ownership as maximizing their PROFITS.

Atlanta_Sports_Fan
Atlanta_Sports_Fan

I did think that the Braves management would do something with Phillips, Johnson, and Markakis, etc.  At this point, I would bring the prospects up and let them have some on the job training!

Dsyelxia
Dsyelxia

I am glad the Braves didn't waste prospects on Sonny Gray but I am perplexed that they were trying to be buyers at all. They are not making the playoffs this year. They need to be selling off some of these older players like Brandon Phillips, Nick Markakis and bad luck charm Sean Rodriguez.

BTC
BTC

Well, now on to football...

brushback69
brushback69

Not surprised by the no action at all.  Not sure Gray would have been the answer to bolster the staff.  

The pressure needs to be off the club, pressing too much IMO.

We all want a winner but the reality and the goal in sight should be to regroup and to finish strong on the final stretch.

The rebuild will take longer than we'd like.  Patience is a virtue...


DawgNole
DawgNole

@brushback69: "Patience is a virtue."

_____________

After 22 years, it's also ignorant.

RashedeHageman
RashedeHageman

The Braves remind me of a nagging case of toenail fungus.  They're never quite bad enough to amputate, but nothing ever seems to work and it goes on that way for years.  And they are an ugly sight to behold until they get better :-)

RashedeHageman
RashedeHageman

I'm glad we didn't dump the baby out with the bath water again!  After dumping Garcia, I was afraid we'd toss out Matt Kemp and Adams and Phillips and anybody else that could hit for a sore-armed young pitching prospect.  Good discipline for once Mr Coppy!  Now let's finish our tanking sub-.500 season and wait 2 or 3 more seasons for these youngsters like Dansby to learn how to play.  I'm gunning for "Playoffs 2021"!!

Terpskin
Terpskin

Wait 2 or 3 seasons? Pitiful. Copy is the worst!

James Bold
James Bold

"Good for him"???   When does our brilliant front office believe some of these "prospects" will actually turn into major league talent that might one day turn this moribund franchise into a winner?    Or is it all just smoke and mirrors to keep people in the seats at Suntrust?   Myself?  I'm tired of losing...tired of excuses....tired of having no faith that a playoff birth is within the capacity of this team.  

Dsyelxia
Dsyelxia

@James Bold Almost all of the Braves minor league teams have losing records. None of them will make the playoffs.

klsfriend
klsfriend

It's only "good for him" if at least a few of these young guys turn out to be something. If not, he gave away nothing and kept nothing which equals nothing. I'm curious what the timetable is when Braves fans are allowed to expect something more than "building"?

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@klsfriend Wish there was a way to look into the future and see how many of Coppy's prized pitching prospects will be on the roster in 2020. One, two ,three or possibly even four, it never seems to work that way. If I am still around in 2020 I would be surprised if more than one of these prospects is actually contributing in any way to the Braves success on the field. 

If you can believe Bradley about the Swanson and Sale comments he made in this article. What would Braves fans rather have Sale and Gray at the top of the 2017 pitching rotation or Swanson, Allard, Soroka, Anderson, Wentz, Muller,Fried,Gohara, Sims ,Toussaint, Sanchez, Sims, Weigel or Wright still toiling in the minor leagues. If the Braves made these moves it is likely they would still have half of this group still in the minors. 

Example one: Swanson, Allard , Wisler and Weigel for Sale.


Example two: Soroka, Fried and Muller for Gray. 


Braves would still have Kyle Wright, Luis Gohara, Anderson, Wentz, Toussaint, Sanchez , Wilson, and Sims in the minors.