The Braves acquired outfielder Adam Duvall from the Reds for pitchers Matt Wisler and Lucas Sims and outfielder Preston Tucker, the team announced after Monday’s 5-3 win over the Marlins Monday. The acquisition means Ender Inciarte will move into a platoon role.
With questions about how Braves would handle moving prized prospects at the trade deadline, general manager Alex Anthopoulos found a way to strengthen his offense, defense and bench by exchanging players who didn’t secure roles on the team.
“Adam Duvall is somebody we’ve talked about for a while,” Anthopoulos said. “We’ve liked him. You look at the right-handed power the last two years, even this year, he’s still put up some solid power numbers. Really good defender. Defense is something we feel as a baseball ops group is really important, and this is a really good defender.”
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The move presents a domino effect: Duvall will start in left field against left-handers with Ronald Acuna shifting to center. That means Inciarte, the team’s Gold Glover who had 200 hits a year ago, is now in a platoon role.
Inciarte’s hit .209 in 110 at-bats against left-handers this season.
“Talked to Ender tonight, he was great,” Anthopoulos said. “His response was, ‘I just want to get to the playoffs.’ He’s awesome. I can’t say enough about him as a team guy. We take him for granted how good a defender he is, but it’s just a move to make our team better.”
Duvall, 29, is batting .205 with a .286 on-base percentage and .399 slugging percentage with 15 homers and 61 RBIs this season. His acquisition strengthens the team’s bench, provides another plus defender and increases its power potential. Anthopoulos cited his experience as an asset as well.
The Braves had been in pursuit of help on the right side of the plate.
“Alex actually first asked me about Duvall when I was traveling with the team when we played in Atlanta … at the end of June,” Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. “He first expressed interest in Duvall at that point. We had it on our board for awhile that there was a team interested in him.”
The corner outfielder has a career .233 average, .294 on-base percentage and .464 slugging percentage with a 27 percent strikeout rate.
Duvall is scheduled for his first year of arbitration in 2019. He’s controllable through 2021, which fits the criteria of players whom the Braves have pursued. Anthopoulos mentioned Duvall acts as protection going into the winter, knowing the team doesn’t have substantial outfield depth in the upper parts of the system.
“We’re raising the floor of the team, at minimum,” Anthopoulos said.
Wisler was a key piece going from the Padres to Braves in the Craig Kimbrel-Melvin Upton deal in 2015. Sims was the Braves’ first rounder (No. 21 overall) in 2012. The Braves acquired Tucker from the Astros last December, and he handled left field duties before Acuna’s promotion in late April.
Williams said Tucker will fill Duvall’s spot with the Reds, while the pitchers are likely to start in Triple-A. Tucker and Wisler were out of options and with the Braves headed toward a 40-man roster crunch this was an opportunity to clear their spots, Anthopoulos said.
Duvall is the third trade the Braves have made since Thursday. They acquired relievers Jonny Venters and Brad Brach each for $250,000 in international slot money.
The Braves’ trade deadline priorities included adding to the bullpen and fortifying the bench. They’ve managed to do so without dipping into their deep prospect pool.
“Helps us in the current year, helps us moving forward,” Anthopoulos said. “We’ll see. We have a little bit of time through tomorrow and tonight and we’ll see if we can come up with anything else.”
The non-waiver trade deadline is Tuesday at 4 p.m. Teams can still make deals in August, but players must either be claimed or pass through waivers, complicating the process.
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