Well, here is the good news for Snitker: Anthopoulos’ public comments on a conference call Monday indicate that the Braves, despite acquiring two relievers, remain active and engaged in the trade market.
Yes, Anthopoulos’ Braves hold baseball’s best record. Yes, they are a collection of elite players. Yes, they have everything else – the chemistry, the manager, the coaching staff and more – that it takes to win a World Series.
But that doesn’t guarantee anything.
“Look, I have areas in my mind that I’m like, ‘I’d like to do a little better, we’d like to do a little bit better,’” Anthopoulos said. “But in fairness to guys on the roster, I don’t think that that’s fair. I don’t think it makes any sense for us to announce those, and it’s not fair to the guys on the team. You’re never gonna be perfect at every spot, right? Whether that’s offensively, defensively, rotation, bullpen, you can always get better.”
Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Braves execute another trade or two before 6 p.m. Tuesday.
On Monday’s call, one reporter asked Anthopoulos if those trades satisfied his needs, or if he expected more activity in the coming weeks.
“You know that there’s certain times a year where teams are engaged and they’re active in trade,” he said. “And this is one of those times, so there could be a deal that impacts you long-term that makes sense right now. … And like anything, you just always take the time to explore things. But to be able to predict, it’s so hard to do because we’re not going to force any trades.
“If the right deal is there and something that we think that makes sense – every team will tell you the same thing – but I do think this is a time of year, clearly, where all 30 teams are engaged. It’s an opportunity to either improve your roster short-term or long-term.”
Of course, Anthopoulos won’t divulge which players he’s targeting. But his answer here – particularly the part about a trade having a long-term impact on his team – may make you think about this slightly differently.
Many contenders target rentals. But could the Braves acquire controllable starting pitching?
Anthopoulos has said before that he worries about the post-2024 starting rotation. Perhaps these next few days – when teams are active – can be a time to help the Braves find clarity on their long-term rotation.
Would the Pirates give up Mitch Keller? He’s a free agent after the 2025 season. Same with Cleveland’s Aaron Civale. That said, neither get a ton of swing and miss.
The White Sox seem like prime sellers. Lucas Giolito is headed to the Angels. The Braves could buy low on Lance Lynn, who’s having a down season.
Here’s something that’s worth monitoring: It might be a sellers market, with some bubble teams perhaps believing they can still contend. If that were the case, the Braves would seem to have fewer options at this moment. A player they want might not be available.
Then again, Anthopoulos is creative. He’ll think of something we haven’t yet pondered.
And if you don’t believe the Braves would target starting pitching, there’s this: Multiple times on the conference call, Anthopoulos mentioned his team’s unforeseen injuries down the stretch in previous years. Max Fried fell ill before last year’s postseason. Spencer Strider sustained an injury late in the regular season. Years ago, Dansby Swanson got hurt. And on and on.
This is why Anthopoulos and his baseball operations team won’t rest on the team’s current record and call it a day.
Without Fried and Kyle Wright for most of this season, the Braves’ starters had combined for a 4.00 ERA as they entered Wednesday’s game in Boston. They ranked third in the National League and ninth in baseball in this category.
Fried should return soon. Wright could be back in early September.
But can the Braves count on everything going well? On everyone staying healthy?
They seem not to count anything as a guarantee, which is why they seem likely to try to add starting pitching. And in the process, they could bring in a multi-year rotation piece.
On Wednesday morning, the Braves’ bullpen had a 3.53 ERA, which led the NL and ranked second in the sport.
It’s still logical to think the Braves could add a late-inning reliever.
San Diego’s Josh Hader probably would be the best available, but will he be shopped? Despite a lackluster season to this point, the Padres might not be sellers.
And if the Braves sought a rental, the White Sox’s Keynan Middleton might be worth a look.
Here’s a fun name: David Bednar, Pittsburgh’s two-time All-Star. He’s not a free agent until after the 2027 season, and pairing him with Raisel Iglesias would be rather deadly for opponents. It might require a haul, though, and who knows if the Braves would be willing to part with the necessary prospects and players? Then again, they could trade from their pitching depth to supplement any trade packages.
Anthopoulos doesn’t need to go this big, but he wouldn’t be crazy to look for another high-leverage reliever.
But this season, A.J. Minter, Nick Anderson, Dylan Lee, Jesse Chavez, Collin McHugh and Iglesias all have spent time on the injured list.
Anything can happen, and the Braves like to be prepared for any scenario.
On Monday, when Anthopoulos said he believed the Braves could do better in certain places, it was difficult not to think about left field. This isn’t to say that’s what Anthopoulos meant, but this probably is the one position on the field that isn’t completely locked down.
At this point, Eddie Rosario is the everyday left fielder. But as of Wednesday, he was worth only 0.3 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference.
Before play Wednesday, Rosario ranked 16th among qualified outfielders with a minus-1 Outs Above Average, according to Baseball Savant. (OAA is a metric that accounts for the number of plays a fielder makes and how difficult they are.) And he hasn’t been as productive at the plate as the Braves would’ve hoped.
Still, Rosario deserves credit for being a clutch hitter. He can get hot at any time. He could light the world on fire in the postseason again. None of this is out of the question.
Adam Duvall would seem to make some sense – if Boston trades him. If Anthopoulos wanted, he could find an outfielder to add to his mix. That person would probably primarily play left field, as Harris and Ronald Acuña Jr. are set starters for the Braves.
But the Braves can win in October without acquiring an outfielder who’s better than Rosario.
They have Kevin Pillar, who gives them good defense and a right-handed bat. Sam Hilliard is another backup outfielder, though he currently is on the injured list.
Remember this about Anthopoulos:
“He’s not gonna just make a deal to make a deal,” Snitker said. “He has people he targets. I think it’s very important. In the past and all, it’s worked. What we’ve done and what he’s done, it’s always worked. Those are the things I just put all my trust in him, that he’s going to do the right thing.”
Last season, the Braves explored acquiring a backup center fielder. This, of course, was a roster spot that would not have played much because of Harris.
But they still thought about adding there.
They wanted coverage there. So much of this is about working on the margins. Teams look to raise their floors as much as their ceilings.
Perhaps the Braves could acquire a utility infielder who is better than Charlie Culberson. Let’s be clear: Culberson is perfect for the clubhouse. Everyone loves having him around.
It seems difficult to deny that there are better baseball players out there. What if an infielder sustained an injury in the postseason?
Yes, the Braves could use Vaughn Grissom. They could have Braden Shewmake. But the first didn’t play good defense in his big-league stint at shortstop, and the second doesn’t provide much with the bat.
A few names that come to mind if the Braves want to acquire another utility infielder: St. Louis’ Paul DeJong, Washington’s Ildemaro Vargas, Texas’ Brad Miller.
It’s difficult to know how teams would value their players, or if these guys would work for the Braves. And it might be important to find someone who can still play shortstop well.
Again: For any of these areas, the Braves won’t simply cross off one of their desires.
“It has to be the right player,” Anthopoulos said.