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Braves Mailbag: Trade Deadline, Sean Murphy and more

Our final mailbag before the Trade Deadline.

MLB: JUL 05 Braves at Guardians Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A big thank you to everyone that took the time to send in questions for this week’s mailbag. We will do it again soon. Let’s get right to it!

I read a recent story about Dodgers/Padres opening MLB 2024 in Korea and several other series happening globally over the next 3-4 years. Have you heard anything about the Braves potentially playing a series somewhere in Central or South America? With Ronald Acuña’s popularity and the Braves on-field success this seems like a natural fit.

It is a good question and the Braves would seem to be a logical fit as you mentioned. I am not sure of the process, but one thing to keep in mind that one team in those series loses home games. I have no idea if that would play any part, but given how successful they have been from an attendance standpoint with Truist Park and The Battery, that might be something that they don’t want to consider.

Should Alex Anthopoulos consider trading Marcell Ozuna now that he has been hitting?

Ozuna’s turnaround at the plate appears to have saved his roster spot, but I’m not sure how much it has rebuilt his value. He will make $18 million again next season and then has a $16 million club option that includes a $1 million buyout for 2025. How many teams would be interested in trading for a DH that is essentially owed $19 million for next season? Maybe if he finishes strong that changes things, but I think moving Ozuna would still require the Braves to pay down part of his contract. He’s projected to end this season with under 1 fWAR and has only amassed 0.5 to date. Even though he’s underhitting his xwOBA by a ton (still), he’d need to play at around a 2 WAR level to justify his contract, and that’s really far from what he’s actually doing.

Do we have a plan to address possible fatigue for the starting lineups? It looks like we’ve had the pretty much the same starting lineup for a while now and I’m just wondering if they can let regulars to have off days.

This has been the way the Braves have approached things for several seasons now. I guess my answer would be that if they clinch a spot early enough, then everyone can rest then. I don’t understand why they don’t utilize their bench more, but with the success they have had, it is hard to argue with how they have gone about things.

The catching position is physically demanding and Travis d’Arnaud is a phenomenal backup catcher, but Sean Murphy is one of the top 5 hitters in baseball. Are the Braves under-utilizing him?

Murphy has been really good, but I don’t know that I would list him as one of the five best hitters in the game unless you are all in on him being a completely changed batter now that the Braves have got their hands on him. Still, the point remains and the answer is yes. The Braves probably have underutilized him to an extent, and it is by design. They are going to carefully manage the workload of both catchers in an effort to keep them rested and healthy for the postseason. Having d’Arnaud allows them this luxury and given their success, it is hard to argue with the strategy, even if it suppresses some of Murphy’s numbers. They were extra careful with Murphy after he tweaked his hamstring, but I think they will get back to him catching about two out of every three games or so.

Do you think the Braves really have to make any moves at the deadline? Or do you think we are pretty solid to make a postseason run?

They may not make a huge splash, but history tells us that the Braves will be active at the Trade Deadline. Alex Anthopoulos has said more than once that the Front Office is always searching for ways to improve the roster. There may not be any glaring holes that need to be filled, but there is always room to add depth. Given the recent injuries to Nick Anderson and A.J. Minter, I would not be surprised to see them add at least one reliever, and maybe two. With Minter and Dylan Lee out, Lucas Luetge is currently the only left-handed pitcher in the bullpen. I think it is a safe bet that will change before the Trade Deadline.

What realistic options do we have as an infield utility bench piece to trade for come trade deadline? I imagine we get bullpen arm or two as well but really interested into seeing what type of bench pieces we may try for.

I discussed my thoughts on the bullpen above, but I am skeptical that they will trade for a bench piece simply because they hardly ever use the final two spots. Charlie Culberson has had two lengthy stints on the roster and had his first plate appearance in Sunday’s game. Sam Hilliard made his first start since May 23. They may end up looking for someone, but they could also add Vaughn Grissom at the end of the season to serve as a right-handed bat off the bench. If they want a speed guy, Forrest Wall has 45 stolen bases at Gwinnett. I still think that the bullpen is the bigger area of need.

Assuming Kyle Wright comes back this season (still skeptical), does he go back in the rotation or stick with Soroka?

If he makes it back and is healthy, then I have no reason to think that he will be anywhere other than in the rotation. Wright isn’t likely to be back before the end of August or more likely September. At that point, they will have two extra roster spots and could work him into the rotation mix either as a replacement or to give guys extra days of rest. The way things have gone one this season in terms of injuries, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this situation work itself out.

What are your thoughts about the first draft under Ronit Shah? it appears that we are trusting more with computer data/data metrics rather than traditional method. A lot of players drafted were not even recognized by MLB top 200 list.

The Draft for the Braves has always been a collaborative effort and I don’t think this year’s was any different. Shah might have been out front when meeting with the media to discuss each day’s picks, but he is one of several voices in the room. Lots of teams are trusting computer data and metrics more than the traditional method these days. The best teams are able to blend the analytics with their scouts. The Braves seem to fit in that category to some extent fairly well. I liked the pick of Hurston Waldrep, but as usually is the case, it will take time to see how they actually did.

If Brian Snitker retired at the end of the season, who is his most likely replacement?

This is a good question to end on. Ron Washington would be the most popular name, but I think a case could be made for Walt Weiss as well if the Braves stayed inside the organization. Another name to keep an eye on, might be Gwinnett manager Matt Tuiasosopo, who seems to be being groomed. Perhaps not for Snitker’s replacement, but as a member of the coaching staff at some point.

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