The Braves have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2018 season, unexpectedly putting the team in the "buyer" category as executive vice president and general manager Alex Anthopoulos prepares for his first Trade Deadline at the helm. But judging by Anthopoulos' comments in a two-part Q&A with Mark
The Braves have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2018 season, unexpectedly putting the team in the "buyer" category as executive vice president and general manager Alex Anthopoulos prepares for his first Trade Deadline at the helm. But judging by Anthopoulos' comments in a two-part Q&A with Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Read Part 1 here, Part 2 here), the Braves aren't planning to mortgage their bright future for a short-term boost.
"We would prefer not to go after rentals unless the acquisition cost just makes so much sense for us," Anthopoulos said. "There's a lot of pain that has gone into putting together this young talent. We're not ready to throw that all away just because of one season."
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Anthopoulos explained that the team is prepared to take on money in a trade, having set aside a portion of the payroll in the offseason for future additions. He also acknowledged that the onus is on him to improve the roster as the club jockeys for position in the National League East with the Phillies and the Nationals. At 52-42, Atlanta is a half-game behind Philadelphia and five games ahead of Washington.
"Any GM who tells you he isn't [feeling the pressure] is lying," Anthopoulos said. "It's an unwritten rule. It's not stated, but it's understood [among players] that, 'You can do your job as a front office in the offseason, but in-season, if we do our jobs and put ourselves in position come July, then you in the front office need to do your job again.'
"That's not explicitly stated. Players won't come up to you and tell you that, but you know they're thinking it. Every single one of them is. That's just reality. That's why we saved some money. Because you want to be in that position to go do some things."
Earlier this month, the Braves were mentioned among the contenders for Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, but they appear to have fallen out of the race as the Dodgers, Phillies and Brewers are reportedly leading. Atlanta has also been connected to Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas. Both players can become free agents after this season.
Anthopoulos thinks the Braves have enough starting pitching to get them through October, even with Mike Soroka (shoulder), Max Fried (blister) and Brandon McCarthy (knee) on the disabled list, as they can call on highly touted youngsters Luiz Gohara (Atlanta's No. 3 prospect, No. 41 overall, per MLB Pipeline) and Kolby Allard (Atlanta's No. 5 prospect, No. 48 overall) to fill in. Fried (Atlanta's No. 7 prospect, No. 71 overall) is also expected to return shortly after the All-Star break.
One area Anthopoulos could look to address is the bullpen, especially with closer Arodys Vizcaino going back on the DL on Saturday with right shoulder inflammation. The Braves entered the All-Star break with the 19th-best bullpen ERA in the Majors (4.24), and many of their key relievers are inexperienced. However, Atlanta could have limited options if free-agents-to-be such as the Orioles' Zach Britton and the Mets' Jeurys Familia are off the table.
Of course, Anthopoulos didn't entirely rule out trading for rental players.
"The acquisition cost has to make sense, which obviously is a sliding scale," Anthopoulos said. "Where you might stretch a little bit and give a little bit more than you want is where you might feel you're one piece away from being a World Series contender. If you feel that's the final piece, you might pay the premium -- whether they're out the door or not."
Thomas Harrigan is an editor for MLB.com.