LAS VEGAS -- As Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos explores ways to add a front-line starting pitcher, an outfielder and bullpen depth, it appears unlikely he'll deal any of his Major League assets.
But to get a feel for exactly what might be available on the trade market, Anthopoulos has at least allowed himself to be open to internal and external discussions regarding Ender Inciarte and the other Major Leaguers who have drawn interest from other teams.
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"I think we encourage conversation," Anthopoulos said. "We say, 'Don't be afraid to ask about anybody, because we're not going to get offended.' I'd rather have the conversation. We encourage ideas, thoughts or free-flowing conversations. We'll consider anything. I know we're not afraid to ask at the same time about other players [from other teams]."
Still, those teams that have expressed interest in Mike Foltynewicz have seemingly learned that minus a substantial return, the Braves aren't going to trade the closest thing they have to a front-line starter.
The Braves also seem hesitant to deal Inciarte. But because Ronald Acuna Jr. is available to play center field, they can at least contemplate dealing their 28-year-old, three-time Gold Glove Award winner, whose contract runs for $29 million over the next four years.
While there may be some concern about a potential defensive decline, Inciarte is an attractive trade piece who could draw interest from the Indians, who possess a couple starting pitchers -- Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer -- that satisfy exactly what the Braves would like to add to their rotation.
If the Braves were to deal Inciarte without getting an outfielder in return, the only MLB-ready outfielders within their system would be Acuna and Adam Duvall, who was a non-tender candidate two weeks ago.
Still, while it might be uncomfortable to deal Inciarte, the Braves have to at least remain open to ways to creatively improve their roster. Johan Camargo and Dansby Swanson are among Atlanta's other MLB-ready assets who have drawn interest from other clubs.
"We're talking about some things," Anthopoulos said. "I wouldn't say we're close. But we've definitely had some conversations about taking some players off the big league team."
Other potential outfield targets
With seven pitchers in MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, the Braves have the kind of young arms sought by the Rangers, who may be willing to deal outfielder Nomar Mazara, who has hit exactly 20 homers each of the past three seasons.
Given the value the Braves place on defense, the Braves might be hesitant to take a chance on Mazara, who Statcast™ credited with -9 Outs Above Average this year (79th among 87 qualified outfielders) and -4 Defensive Runs Saved in 2017.
Looking to create the option to make a selection during the Major League phase of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, the Braves placed Rio Ruiz on waivers and then lost him when he was claimed by the Orioles.