As Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos chatted with reporters about Sunday’s acquisition of relief pitcher Brad Brach from the Baltimore Orioles, he took a quick glance at his cell phone.
He figures to be on the phone a lot in the waning hours before baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
“It’s fun,” Anthopoulos said of the hectic period leading to the deadline. “The people who say, ‘Oh, I haven’t slept,’ this is the fun part of the job. I look at this as every team is engaged – trade mode, if you want to call it that.
“It’s a good opportunity to just make a transaction, short- or long-term. There’s no interference, whereas (in) the offseason you have the interference of free agency. You’ve (now) got 29 other teams that are fully engaged, and …they’re driven, they’re focused. They’re not worrying about the draft; they’re not worrying about anything else. This is what they’re doing, so you have a high probability to make a deal.”
Where all of this leads for the Braves is up in the air.
So far, they have acquired two relief pitchers without surrendering any prospects. They acquired Jonny Venters from the Tampa Bay Rays last week and Brach from the Orioles on Sunday for international signing slots.
But to make a larger deal – say, for a significant starting pitcher who is controllable beyond this season, such as Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer – would require dipping into their prospect stash, probably substantially and painfully.
“We want to make the team better, there’s no doubt about it,” Anthopoulos said. “That said, we’ve also been clear that we can’t force a move and do something that is really going to hurt us long-term.
“It’s hard to find that area where we can achieve both things. We still have some time left. If we can make other deals that we think can help, we’ll look to do that.”
Despite not playing well recently – they’re 6-13 over their past 19 games and 26-28 since May 23 – the Braves climbed within 1-1/2 games of first place in the National League East with Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both the Phillies, who are ahead of the Braves in the division, and the Nationals, who are immediately behind them, lost Sunday.
“Stay close in the standings, and hopefully we can get hot again,” Anthopoulos said.
He knows the Braves’ players have keen interest in what happens between now and 4 p.m. Tuesday.
“I try to keep an open dialogue with the players,” he said. “If they want to ask me who we are talking about, there’s things I can and can’t say. But I’m pretty open. … If they ask ‘Hey, what about this person?’, ‘Hey, what about that person?’, ‘What would it take?’, I’ll give them as much feedback as I can so they at least have a sense of what we’re thinking, what we’re doing, that we’re trying.”
From Sunday at SunTrust Park:
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