Yesterday marked the last day that MLB teams could carry an extra relief pitcher. Today, all MLB teams will be forced to go even-Steven with 13 position players and 13 pitchers. While I can understand the reasoning behind the move from the MLBPA, carrying 13 position players in the universal DH era seems silly as no team really needs a 4-man bench anymore.
Also, Alex Anthopoulos discussed trade deadline needs, and even with the additions of Eddie Rosario and Ozzie Albies (hopefully) before the end of the season, AA says that a LH bat is, as of now, the only outstanding need for the team.
Today’s piece will look at position player candidates that could get the add today, as well as the pitcher that might make their trip back to AAA, to another team, or at worst, gets the dreaded DFA. Lastly we’ll discuss potential LH bats that could fit on the Braves roster.
Earlier this week, Jacob Webb was DFA’d, but stayed in the org and was outrighted to AAA. Anthopoulos seems to be a pro at these moves and, more often than not, is able to build AAA depth for the MLB team. Almost the entire Gwinnett Stripers Roster consists of guys that could come up to the MLB in a pinch, be DFA’d, and return once again to AAA as depth. When Alex Dickerson struggled to open the season, AA DFA’d him, no one picked him up, and now he’s at AAA, not on the 40-man.
Unless a trade occurs, the easy additions are those that are already 40-man rostered that could fill a need. With Ozzie on the shelf, the need of an infield backup was filled by Phil Gosselin last week, therefore the Braves could get creative and figure out a way to get another bat into the lineup. The easy guess would be to recall Travis Demeritte. However, if the Braves wanted to try out some LH hitting bench options, they could bring back Alex Dickerson but that would cost an active roster spot. They could also do the same with Mike Ford. However, neither of these guys are hitting particularly well at AAA.
An outside the box idea would be to bring up a 3rd catcher to free up the bats of both Travis d’Arnaud and William Contreras. And while he’s not left-handed, Chadwick Tromp jumps out as an ideal candidate, as he’s strong defensively and could be utilized in a pinch.
The smart money is still on Travis Demeritte, but Kramer Robertson could be on the table, as well as a trade candidate.
EDIT: The move was Mike Ford. It happened about 3 minutes before I posted.
Unless there’s someone that’s hurt and we don’t know it (which seems to happen a lot under AA’s watch), the logical choice for removal is Jesus Cruz. Cruz has been with the team since May 30th, but has only thrown 6 innings of relief, albeit they’ve been solid innings. Cruz also has MILB options and moving him down and moving someone up like Demeritte allows Anthopoulos to keep his current 40-man intact, and I’m sure AA would see that as a win.
Braves Desire a LH Bat
Last year’s deadline, the Braves went all-in…sort of. With Ronald Acuna Jr. on the shelf, the team acquired Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall, and Richard Rodriguez. 4 of those 5 produced outrageously for the Braves and helped grab the Braves their 4th World Series trophy.
This year, the needs are much less. The team is destroying baseball and rank in the top 3 in most of Baseball Savant’s predictive offensive stats. And while the pitching, especially starting, does not rank as high, they’re still in the top-10 of predictive stats, which signifies that a lot of things are going right, and the team has been on the bad side of luck more often than not. The starting pitching, relief pitching, lineup, and bench are as solid as its been since the ’90s run and this team is set for a real run once again.
So if you’re Anthopolous and are looking at needs, there’s not many. If he operates with a checklist, most everything is checked. Make no mistake though, the Braves really do need another LH bat. The team OPS against LHP is a strong .824. And while it’s not horrible, that OPS drops to .728 against RHP. And even more unfortunate, the left-handed hitters on the team are guilty of dragging that OPS down as they’re collectively hitting .698 against RHP.
It’s hard to predict Alex, but if I were a betting man, I’d put good money that Anthopoulos isn’t looking for that big splash that sells the rest of the farm, as he already made that with Matt Olson. What he’ll be looking for is an under the radar dude that has strong peripherals, decent numbers, and something for Kevin Seitzer to unlock.
Reyes was an international signee by the Braves back in 2011 and was traded for the 75th pick in the 2015 draft, which turned out to be A.J. Minter. Reyes can play all outfield positions, but more importantly, is hitting the ball really hard this year despite carrying pedestrian numbers.
Daniel Vogelbach, aka caucasian Panda, also hits the ball hard and the Braves could use a LH slugger.
According to Statcast, both have been very unlucky in 2022 and are due an upswing in numbers very soon.