Braves top prospects were discussed in potential deals, but at baseball’s trade deadline, the rich farm system remained mostly intact.
The Braves made one deal Tuesday before the non-waiver trade deadline closed. They acquired right-handed starter Kevin Gausman and right-handed reliever Darren O’Day from the Orioles in exchange for four prospects catcher Brett Cumberland, infielder Jean Carlos Encarnacion, right-handed pitcher Evan Phillips and left-handed pitcher Bruce Zimmerman. The Braves also included international signing slots.
The Braves made a total of four moves to improve the team before the stretch run to end the season as they entered Tuesday’s game against the Marlins a half-game behind the Phillies in the National League East. They acquired Adam Duvall from the Reds late Monday night for pitchers Matt Wisler and Lucas Sims and outfielder Preston Tucker. They also acquired relief pitchers Jonny Venters from the Rays and Brad Brach from the Orioles, both for international signing pool money.
“We didn’t sit there during this trade deadline and say we refused to move on our top prospects,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “Certain guys are harder to acquire than others and for the right deal, the right player, we are open to it. … We are open to it in the right deal, but the bar for us to clear in the right deal is really high and that player needs to check the right boxes. There were some that we had conversations that did that.”
None of the four prospects the Braves sent to the Orioles are ranked in the top 100 in baseball, according to Baseball America.
The 27-year-old Gausman has a 5-8 record with a 4.43 ERA in 21 starts this season. He has 104 strikeouts and 32 walks. He has a career record of 39-51 with a 4.22 ERA in six seasons. Gausman, 6-foot-3, was a first-round pick (No. 4 overall) by the Orioles in the 2012 MLB amateur draft. The Braves will have control of Gausman, who will make $5.6 million this season, for the next two seasons, as he is arbitration-eligible in 2019 and 2020.
O’Day, 35, compiled a 3.60 ERA and two saves in 20 games for the Orioles this season before landing on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring June 27. He was transferred to the 60-day disabled list two days later and is out for the rest of the season. O’Day is owed $9 million next season.
Anthopoulos said the Braves spent the bulk of Tuesday on the deal with the Orioles. He said he tried to acquire both pitchers earlier this season.
On Gausman: “We were just looking for the right value, the right deal. We did not target and say we had to get a starter. Gausman is someone we’ve been trying to get for a while. We think there is upside there. Changing leagues, a really good defensive club in our minds, some things we do with our game plan our prep can help. We think there is some upside to unlock some of the potential that made him a top pick.”
On O’Day: “(We have) needs in bullpen next year. Kicked him around earlier this year before injury. We are excited to have him in 2019. We are going to have some openings in the bullpen and a guy with his experience and success … we have a very young bullpen and this guy brings a lot to the clubhouse.”
Braves manager Brian Snitker said he hasn’t decided when Gausman will make his Braves debut. He pitched for the Orioles on Saturday and will go when ready.
The Braves now stand with what they believe is an improved roster, although Anthopoulos said he will know “at the end of September.” Yet still a part of the organization are such prized prospects as Kolby Allard, who was to make his major league debut Tuesday against the Marlins, Kyle Wright, Max Fried, Austin Riley, Touki Toussaint and Ian Anderson.
“I feel really good,” Snitker said of the trades. “We talked about what would you like to have, and I think he hit all the boxes – bullpen depth, starting pitching, maybe a bat off the bench.”
The Braves were rumored to be involved in trade talks with the Rays for top-line starter Chris Archer. While Anthopoulos is not permitted to talk about specific players, he did indicate the Braves spoke to Tampa Bay. Such a deal did not materialize, and the Braves are still prospect-rich.
As for several other players the Braves were rumored to be discussing, Anthopoulos said much of the talk was not true.
“There were a lot of rumors out there today about who we were in on,” he said. “The bulk of it, almost all of it, was off.”