While the hot stove has yet to fully heat up, the rumor mill is slowly starting to churn. Ronald Acuña Jr. in recent days has been brought up twice by MLB Network’s Matt Vasgersian speculating that the Atlanta Braves might shop the young outfielder over his dissatisfaction with his current situation.
It is worth pointing out that Vasgersian is the only source of these rumors so far, but they have started to make waves on Twitter and other places.
It can be put to rest now though as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Braves are not considering trading Acuña or any other young player that they have signed to a long term extension.
While the club, as a matter of policy, does not award no-trade clauses, a player who signs an extension does it with the implicit understanding he will not be traded. Obviously, things can change — a player, for example, eventually might want out. But if the Braves break the trust they’ve created internally, players will become more resistant to the extensions that have positioned the team for long-term success.
Acuña won Rookie of the Year in 2018 and just missed out on a 40-40 season in 2019. He was on his way to an MVP caliber campaign in 2021 before suffering a torn ACL that ended his season. He returned in 2022 and battled soreness in the knee while posting a “down” season for him where he put up a 114 wRC+ and was worth 2.2 fWAR. Not to mention he is signed to a comically team-friendly deal.
Even in a “what have you done for me lately” world, Acuña is still the most talented player on the Braves roster and they would be hard pressed to find a return in any trade that would bring them equal value.
Dansby Swanson or bust
Coming into the offseason, many expected the Braves to be in the market for one of the big name free agents. Whether it was Trea Turner, Carlos Correa or Xander Bogaerts as a replacement for Dansby Swanson or a frontline starting pitcher like Jacob deGrom. However, Rosenthal reports that it is unlikely that the Braves make a big signing unless it is to bring back Swanson on a new deal.
Atlanta did a lot of its heavy lifting during the season locking up most of its young core. The deadline day deal for Raisel Iglesias gives them a closing option to replace Kenley Jansen in 2023. There are still some areas that need to be shored up and Atlanta will likely be active, but a splash signing appears unlikely.