ATLANTA -- Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos’ tireless approach led to a couple late-night deals on Monday, satisfying his desire to add insurance to his rotation and address Adam Duvall’s absence in left field.
The Braves announced they acquired veteran outfielder Robbie Grossman from the Tigers in exchange for LHP Kris Anglin. Around the same time that deal was announced, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand was among those reporting the Braves were nearing a deal that would send left-handed reliever Will Smith to the Astros for veteran starter Jake Odorizzi. That deal was finalized on Tuesday morning.
The Odorizzi trade is a significant one for the Braves, who have wanted to add insurance to their rotation. Grossman provides the defending World Series champions a left fielder who has had great success against left-handed pitchers.
Once Duvall suffered a season-ending wrist injury on July 23, the Braves began looking for somebody who could platoon with the left-handed hitting Eddie Rosario in left field. The switch-hitting Grossman hit just .205 with two homers and a .595 OPS for the Tigers this year, but he tallied 23 homers in 2021 and has produced a .999 OPS in 96 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers this season.
With Odorizzi, the Braves have gained a proven starter in exchange for Smith, who was expected to be the odd man out once Kirby Yates is soon activated from the injured list. Smith helped Atlanta win last year’s World Series with a fantastic postseason, but the former closer has produced a 4.38 ERA while surrendering a .768 OPS in 37 innings this year.
There was initially fear Odorizzi might have suffered a season-ending left ankle injury when he fell while running toward first base on May 16 at Fenway Park. But the 32-year-old right-hander has pitched effectively in three of the five starts he has made since returning from the injured list. He surrendered two hits over seven scoreless innings against the Mariners on Saturday.
Odorizzi provides insurance for Ian Anderson, who halted his struggles with a strong start on Saturday. His presence also guards against the possibility that Spencer Strider or Kyle Wright could fatigue down the stretch.
With a doubleheader against the Mets on Saturday and another twin bill against the Marlins the following weekend, the Braves could opt to carry six starters for the next couple weeks. This would give them time to assess where Anderson and the other starters stand going into the second half of August.
Anglin posted a 2.86 ERA in five appearances (four starts) for the Braves’ Florida Complex League this year. He was taken in the 16th round of the 2021 MLB Draft.