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This is why Braves are being patient with market

Anthopoulos might only make 1-2 moves; notes on Machado, deGrom
MLB.com

The Braves have been one of the game's biggest surprises this season, their young team holding firm to first place in the National League East with the halfway point rapidly approaching.

Although Atlanta general manager Alex Anthopoulos has several areas of his roster that he could address in the coming weeks, a source with knowledge of the Braves' thinking doesn't anticipate a series of major moves coming between now and July 31.

The Braves have been one of the game's biggest surprises this season, their young team holding firm to first place in the National League East with the halfway point rapidly approaching.

Although Atlanta general manager Alex Anthopoulos has several areas of his roster that he could address in the coming weeks, a source with knowledge of the Braves' thinking doesn't anticipate a series of major moves coming between now and July 31.

"They can address a lot of areas, but they're not going to be able to address a lot of areas," the source said. "In a perfect world, they could use a bullpen guy, a front-of-the-rotation starter and a big bat, but they're not going to have the dollars to fill all those spots. They also don't want to use that much prospect capital to fill that many holes."

With their rebuild moving faster than expected, the Braves also plan to wait until mid-to-late July before making any move.

"They'll likely wait as long as they can because between now and July, there could be more players get injured, there could be dips in performance, things like that," the source said. "The needs today could be different than they are three or four weeks from now. The longer they wait, the more clearly defined the needs will be."

With the payroll nearing $120 million, Atlanta won't be in position to acquire a bench player making $4 million-$5 million or a middle reliever earning $6 million. It's also highly improbable that the Braves will be able to bring in a big-salary star, the source said, making Manny Machado an unlikely target.

"It's ridiculous," the source said of the constant Machado-to-Atlanta chatter.

With limited financial flexibility, the Braves will likely have one or two moves to make in the best-case scenario. With that in mind, Anthopoulos will want to make that move or two really count.

"They only have so many resources, whether it's money they can take on in salary or total players they'll be willing to move," the source said. "What if they make the move in June and then in July, it turns out that wasn't the primary need? Look at the Twins last year; they made a deal for Jaime Garcia and then turned around a week later and traded him away. [The Braves are] playing the slow game."

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Machado is the crown jewel of this trade season, one of the few race-changing hitters expected to be dealt before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Video: MIA@BAL: Machado lines a 2-out RBI single in the 8th

But one baseball insider wonders whether the Orioles will actually trade Machado before July 31, citing Baltimore's seemingly unrealistic asking price for the star shortstop.

"The offers weren't good enough over the winter, and they're apparently not good enough now," the insider said. "With every day that ticks off the calendar, you'd have to think teams will offer less, not more. The O's may have overplayed their hand."

Baltimore was said to be asking for two young, controllable starting pitchers for Machado, though that seems like a lot for a half-season or less of the three-time All-Star.

Machado is slated to become a free agent after the season, and while an acquiring team would have a chance to sell him on their city as a long-term home, it's extremely unlikely that he would sign an extension before reaching free agency.

* * * * * 

MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported Monday that the Mariners have shown interest in Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ, but a source indicated that Seattle is monitoring as many as a half-dozen starting pitchers in an effort to add an arm in the coming weeks.

Video: Morosi on potential trade fits for J.A. Happ

"They're just combing the landscape right now," one evaluator said, though a second source said the Mariners seem intent on being "aggressive" when it comes to acquiring a starter.

The biggest obstacle might not be the lack of desirable arms on the market, but rather the lack of notable prospects. According to MLB Pipeline's most recent rankings, Seattle has only one player on the Top 100 Prospects list (outfielder Kyle Lewis, No. 60).

"Their farm system is very thin," the evaluator said. "There isn't much to trade there."

* * * * * 

The Mets are prepared to listen to offers for many of their players, and while teams are certain to check in on Jacob deGrom's availability, a source said it would take "an overwhelming offer" to get the ace out of Queens.

Video: NYM@COL: deGrom strikes out 7 over 8 strong innings

"Trading him would be a huge organizational decision," the source said. "That won't stop teams from inquiring or trying to deal for him, but it's hard to see the Mets parting with him."

MLB.com's Anthony DiComo reported Monday that while the Mets will listen to offers, a team source cautioned not to expect any deals any time soon. Despite their position in the standings, the Mets "want to play out the next few weeks to see if they can climb back into contention before committing to any sort of sell-off," DiComo reported.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001

Jacob deGrom, J.A. Happ, Manny Machado