basketball 2 months ago

Braves GM unsure of deadline direction despite .500 record


The Atlanta Braves are at a crossroads.

Despite missing their best player in Freddie Freeman for a good chunk of the first half, the Braves are surprisingly playing .500 baseball and sit just six games back of a playoff berth. Yet the club is still obviously rebuilding, and at times have looked years away from being ready for prime time.

As a result, Atlanta's present remains unclear for the moment - something general manager John Coppolella seems to recognize as he prepares for the upcoming trade deadline.

"We're playing in every game," Coppolella told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN on Monday. "But we're not the main player.''

Should the Braves fizzle out of the race over the upcoming weeks - in particular, a tough 10-game stretch that starts Monday with a home series against the Cubs, followed by seven on the West Coast against the Dodgers and Arizona - Coppolella will be open to offers on veteran starter Jaime Garcia, and second baseman Brandon Phillips, according to Crasnick.

Both Garcia and Phillips were acquired this winter and are pending free agents who could bring back decent returns thanks to solid 2017 campaigns.

However, if they survive, the Braves could pivot and seek out some immediate help with years of control remaining. Crasnick reports that the Braves like the Athletics' Sonny Gray, perhaps the most coveted arm still available this July, thanks to his two years of arbitration remaining. Though Crasnick added that other contenders, including the Brewers, Astros, and Indians may push harder to pry Gray out of Oakland.

Atlanta may have already been looking in the direction of acquiring established and controllable arms, as they reportedly offered a package to the White Sox that included top prospect Ozzie Albies for Jose Quintana before he was dealt to the Cubs.

The Braves have also been linked to at least one young position player with years of team control remaining in Texas Rangers utility man Jurickson Profar.

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