There was plenty of drama off of the field yesterday, but there wasn’t much doubt about the result on the field as the Braves lost to the Cubs 6-2. The lone bright spots on offense included an RBI single from Ozzie Albies and a solo dinger from Lane Adams. Other than that, the Braves couldn’t figure out Kyle Hendricks and it was a rough night at the ballpark for Atlanta.
Meanwhile, the off-field drama started when reports came out that the Braves were in talks with the Angels concerning a trade centered around Brandon Phillips. While the game was going on, there were reports that the two teams came to an agreement and it all came down to Phillips accepting the deal. Phillips reportedly left it down to his family to make the last decision and when they said “yes,” he said “yes,” and the trade went through. There’s also a chance that this may not be the last we see of Dat Dude in Atlanta, which would be a curious decision on the Braves’ part.
Coppy said #Braves will strongly consider trying to re-sign Phillips. Camargo and Ruiz will get most 3b time rest of season.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) September 1, 2017
Meanwhile, today is September 1 and that means that teams are allowed to expand their active roster. The Braves will be adding a few players, but prized prospect Ronald Acuna won’t be one of them. He’ll be given every opportunity to make the big league squad next year, but according to David O’Brien of the AJC, he won’t be seeing the bright lights of The Show in 2017.
It’s unlikely for a few reasons:
-- Acuna is not on the 40-man roster, and the Braves don’t need to protect him in the December Rule 5 draft, so they can wait until the spring to see if he earns an opening-day roster spot before adding him to the 40-man. In the meantime, they can use 40-man roster spots to protect other prospects who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft and need to be protected or risk being poached by other teams.
-- The Braves outfield is crowded with veteran starters Matt Kemp, Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis, and now with backups, including Lane Adams and Santana and Garcia, who is working at the outfield corners on a rehab assignment. There is no obvious spot for Acuna to play, and the Braves aren’t inclined to bench one of the veterans. If they trade Markakis or Kemp this winter, it would open a spot for Acuna.
Finally, have you noticed that the Braves haven’t really had a bad situation at catcher for a long, long time? The Braves really haven’t had serious worries there since the early 1990s, and their acquisitions of Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki are the latest example of how well the Braves have managed to keep that position in good shape as the years have gone by and times have changed.
Normally, the August 31 Waiver Trade Deadline comes and goes without much incident. That changed in a huge way as we saw a handful of big trades to down. For starters, the Angels didn’t just add Brandon Phillips — they also added Justin Upton on what appears to be a clear one-month rental deal based on the return and the fact that Upton is probably going to opt-out of his current deal to become a free agent. Either way, Mike Trout should definitely appreciate the help he received from his front office yesterday.
Detroit wasn’t done there. In their efforts to shed what ended up being upwards of $170 million of payroll, they ended up trading Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros. There was a lot of drama here — Verlander reportedly invoked his no-trade clause to nix the deal, but apparently things changed very quickly and Verlander eventually accepted the trade. Now Houston has a veteran starter with plenty of playoff experience, and the Tigers have well-and-truly gotten their rebuild underway.