The trade deadline is less than a week away now, so now is a good time to take a look at what teams are likely to be selling at the deadline. There’s always the chance that some teams decide to go for a playoff appearance and end up holding (or even buying like the Mets last season), or some teams that decide to unexpectedly sell, but this article will cover a number of teams that are likely to sell or are in a position where they should sell.
Teams out of contention
Seattle Mariners - The Mariners are possibly the most intriguing team that is likely to sell at the deadline. This is due to a combination of having a trade-happy GM and some interesting pieces to trade. Their potential trade pieces also happen to fit Atlanta’s needs quite well. Starting pitchers Taijuan Walker and Marco Gonzales each could help fill in Atlanta’s severely depleted rotation. Gonzales probably makes more sense with a team friendly contract until 2024 with a team option in 2025, and he’s also just a better pitcher in my opinion, but either could be an option. Veteran third baseman Kyle Seager could also be of interest to Atlanta as a target to fill in at third base, where the Braves have gotten weak production from Austin Riley and Johan Camargo so far this season. That being said, Austin Riley has been much better in the last 10 games or so, and Seager would be an expensive multi-year commitment and is already 32 years old, so the Braves may be reluctant to go after him.
Pittsburgh Pirates - The Pirates have a very bad roster and are well out of contention, so they have no reason not to sell at this deadline. The only problem is that they don’t have many interesting players. The only players that I think Atlanta might be interested in from Pittsburgh would be pitchers Trevor Williams or Steven Brault. These two have no real track record as anything special, but they both could help eat innings for the Braves, and Williams in particular had two solid years in 2017 and 2018. They each also come with another two or three years of team control after this year, so they wouldn’t be rentals. Joe Musgrove could also be an option, but he is currently on the 10-day IL.
Boston Red Sox - The Red Sox have had quite the fall from grace, and are now solidly out of contention, despite a still sky high payroll. Very few players that they have can be eliminated outright as trade candidates, but some that might fit the Braves would be Xander Bogaerts or Rafael Devers to play third base, or Nathan Eovaldi to bolster the rotation. Bogaerts or Devers would likely be pretty expensive to trade for, but Eovaldi might not be so expensive, who’s had a rough go of it since last season and comes with an injury history and a somewhat expensive contract.
Kansas City Royals - The Royals have been bad for a while now and this year is no exception, but they’ve been reluctant to trade their valuable players so far, so it’s unclear whether this year will be any different. Whit Merrifield is very good, but has a questionable positional fit in Atlanta. Danny Duffy might make the most sense as an innings eater with mid-rotation upside and he’s signed through next season on a reasonable contract, so he would be an interesting name.
Los Angeles Angels - The Angels are a weird team here, since they need to try to compete while Mike Trout is playing incredible, especially after signing Anthony Rendon for big money, but they are already all but eliminated from the playoffs this year and they have no good young pitching. David Fletcher would be a splashy position player option and he has a little experience playing third base, but he would be costly and again, Austin Riley has been showing signs of life. The Angels do have a few veteran starting pitching options that might interest Atlanta in Dylan Bundy and old friend Julio Teheran. Dylan Bundy could be an option to solidify the rotation and he’s been great so far this season. Bundy is under control through next year, so he wouldn’t be a rental, but the Angels also might want to keep him for that, and the Angels would definitely want some real pitching prospect(s) in return, so I’m not sure Atlanta would be willing to buy into this Bundy breakout based on six starts. Julio Teheran is theoretically an innings eater, but he’s been awful this season and trading for a player Atlanta hasn’t trusted in the playoffs for the last two years seems unlikely.
Teams with playoff chances but rebuilding rosters
Detroit Tigers - The Tigers are clearly still in the rebuilding phase, but have won enough games that they might hope for a playoff berth this year. That being said, they would still likely be willing to sell on some veterans. Unfortunately, they don’t have any great fits for Atlanta, but Jonathan Schoop could be a decent but inexpensive rental option to fill in if the Albies injury is going to be long term.
Miami Marlins - Miami has “started” the season reasonably well after their team outbreak of COVID, but have fallen back down around .500 and have a ton of games to play still. They have also been notoriously weird when it comes to trading players in recent years. They also don’t really have any obvious fits for Atlanta in a trade deal, but they have a number of veterans on short-term deals, so it’s possible a rental deal gets done.
Baltimore Orioles - The Orioles have a very bad roster, but are somehow sitting on the fringes of the playoffs after almost half of the season. Alex Cobb has been a player that has been thrown around in trade speculation, but he hasn’t been much more than a solid back of the rotation starter in a while and he’s making a decent salary. He is under control through next year though and could help save Atlanta’s bullpen, but I question whether the Braves would want to take on that money for the player that Cobb is.
Texas Rangers - The Rangers haven’t been awful this season, but still are fringe playoff contenders at best. They do have some interesting options for Atlanta, the best of which is starter Lance Lynn. Lynn is 33 years old, but is signed through next season on a reasonable deal and has a track record of being good. Lynn would not be cheap to trade for, but would give Atlanta a guy who can eat a lot of innings and give quality innings at that. Old friend Mike Minor is another option, but he has struggled so far this season, albeit with an xFIP that is more in line with his last two seasons.
San Francisco Giants - The Giants are in playoff contention, but are clearly in a rebuilding stage with their roster. They do have a few interesting pitching options that Atlanta might want. One option that has been speculated about is old friend Kevin Gausman, who the Braves traded for at the 2018 deadline and cut in 2019. Gausman has started the season nicely, but would be a rental and I’m not sure Atlanta would want to go down that route again with how it ended. Johnny Cueto is another option, but he is on a pretty big contract. He also has performed with questionable effectiveness in the 3 seasons prior to 2020. San Francisco might have some options to interest Atlanta, but they all have warts.
Cleveland Indians - Cleveland has had some very public controversy recently with pitchers Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac breaking the pandemic protocols recently. This lit ablaze discussions of Clevinger being traded which were already somewhat present. It’s still unsure how willing Cleveland is to trade him, but the relationship between the player and his teammates and perhaps even the franchise may be broken at this point with him being sent to their alternate site. Clevinger is supremely talented and has pitched like a top of the rotation starter as recently as last year. He also has 2 years more of arbitration, and potentially 3 with some roster manipulation. The cost would likely still be high, given Clevinger’s talent and control, but Clevinger could be an impact trade target for Atlanta.
Cincinnati Reds - Cincinnati has had some brilliant individual performances this season, namely from starters Trevor Bauer, Sonny Gray, and Luis Castillo, as well as outfielders Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos, but sit below .500 and face Bauer entering free agency this off-season. It’s possible they try to get some value out of Bauer, who is pitching like an ace right now before he leaves in free agency if they don’t think this is the year for them to contend, and there has been some minor buzz about this possibility.