Braves reload for chase in mediocre NL East with 4 trades
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves’ flurry of trade-deadline moves on Friday highlighted how fortunate they are to be in the NL East, where any team close to .500 is still relevant.
Though the Braves entered the day one game under .500, they were only four games behind the first-place New York Mets. Emboldened by the standings, general manager Alex Anthopoulos acquired outfielders Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler and Eddie Rosario and reliever Richard Rodriguez in an attempt to position Atlanta for a run at its fourth consecutive division title.
The moves were notable for a team that has not been above .500 all season.
“There’s no doubt we’ve had our challenges,” Anthopoulos said. “The one thing that’s fortunate for us is we’re playing in the NL East in 2021. We’re all in it.”
The Mets, second-place Phillies and Braves are still in the race. The Nationals and Marlins bowed out, moving veterans for prospects at the trade deadline.
“From our standpoint, when talent leaves the NL East, we’re certainly pleased about that,” Anthopoulos said.
Duvall, acquired from the Miami Marlins for catcher Alex Jackson, was tentatively included in Friday night’s lineup against Milwaukee in left field. The other newcomers were not expected to arrive in Atlanta in time to play Friday.
The 32-year-old Duvall played the last three seasons in Atlanta. He hit .229 and ranks among the top 10 in the National League with 22 home runs and 68 RBIs in 90 games for Miami this season.
The Braves obtained Rosario and cash from Cleveland for infielder Pablo Sandoval.
Rosario, 29, is on the injured list with a strained right oblique. He was hitting .254 with seven homers and 46 RBIs. He hit 32 homers for Minnesota in 2019.
The Braves will pay a portion of Rosario’s $8 million salary.
Soler was acquired from Kansas City for minor league right-hander Kaley Kalich, a 2019 fourth-round draft pick who will be assigned to Class A Quad Cities.
Kalich had a 3.26 ERA with five saves in five opportunities for High-A Rome this season.
Soler, 29, was hitting .192 with 13 homers this season. He led the AL with 48 homers in 2019, the only full season he has played in the majors.
Finally, the Braves acquired Rodriguez, a right-hander who had a 2.82 ERA and 14 saves with the Pirates. Manager Brian Snitker said Will Smith, who has 21 saves in 23 opportunities, will keep the closer’s role.
“He’s probably one of the top guys in terms of save opportunities and saves,” Snitker said.
The Braves traded two right-handers — Bryse Wilson, who is 2-3 with a 4.83 ERA in Atlanta this season, and minor leaguer Ricky DeVito — to Pittsburgh.
Rosario, Duvall and Soler join Joc Pederson, acquired from the Chicago Cubs on July 15, in Atlanta’s new-look outfield. Snitker said Pederson, who has been the regular in right field, could see time in center.
The Braves needed to revamp their outfield as they attempt to remain in the playoff chase. Atlanta suffered a severe blow to its playoff hopes when it lost Ronald Acuña Jr. to a season-ending knee injury on July 10.
Braves left fielder Marcell Ozuna, who was on the injured list, is facing domestic violence charges following an arrest at his home in May. He has not played since.
Rookie Cristian Pache, who opened the season as the Braves’ starting center fielder, hit only .111 in 22 games. Atlanta released three-time Gold Glove winner Ender Inciarte on Thursday.
The Braves first acquired Duvall at the 2018 trade deadline. He was an All-Star with the Reds in 2016, when he set career highs with 33 homers and 103 RBIs.
Snitker said he spoke with Duvall on Friday.
“He’s going to fit right in because he’s going to feel like he’s one of our players,” Snitker said.
Anthopoulos hopes the new-look outfield can give the team’s offense a boost
“I felt like this was one of the most active trade deadlines that I can recall,” Anthopoulos said. “We thought we were able to improve the ballclub.
“We haven’t gone on a streak really all year. We feel like if the offense can step up an little bit, adding this depth ... hopefully we can get going.”
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