How long of a leash do they give Freddie Freeman at third base, performance-wise, before deciding whether or not to trade Matt Adams?
The most influential variable of this decision is the potential return that can be gained for Adams. If the Braves get an offer they can't refuse within the next couple weeks, there's a good chance Adams will be dealt before August arrives. If it appears a greater return could be gained this offseason, when more teams might be bidding, then it will have to be determined whether it truly makes sense to keep Freeman at third base over the remainder of the regular season.
While it's certainly intriguing to think about having Freeman and Adams in the same lineup, there's no denying the fact that the Braves are weakening their defensive potential at both corner-infield spots with the arrangement. Adams can't match Freeman's Gold Glove Award-caliber skills at first base, and Freeman seems destined to experience frustration at a position Johan Camargo has solidified over the past couple of weeks.
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Freeman's selfless willingness to change positions will allow him a chance to prove he is much more athletic and agile than many might think. And yes, it could be a lot of fun seeing what he, Adams and Matt Kemp could do while positioned together in the middle of the same lineup. But there's seemingly a good chance this will simply be a short-term fix that will buy the Braves some time as they gain a better feel for Adams' trade value.
Who do you see the Braves targeting at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline?
The Braves have gone 24-20 and actually gained a half-game on the front-running Nationals in the National League East since Freeman was lost to a fractured left wrist. As Freeman aims to return this week, the team is prepping to enter a challenging stretch that will pit it against the Astros, Nationals, D-backs, Cubs and Dodgers.
How the Braves fare within this span will determine how much buying or selling they do before July 31 arrives. Along with monitoring the market for Adams, they will also see what they might be able to get for some of their other veterans, most of which could be replaced internally.
If the Braves trade Adams, Freeman would move to first and Camargo could stay at third base. If Brandon Phillips is traded, the second-base position could be filled by either Camargo or Sean Rodriguez, who has recovered much better than expected from shoulder surgery and could join Atlanta's roster by the end of this month.
By moving veteran reliever Jim Johnson, the Braves could create a roster spot for either A.J. Minter or Daniel Winkler, a couple rehabbing relievers who could alter the bullpen's makeup in the second half. Like Johnson, Jaime Garcia's trade value has decreased over the past few weeks. But it would be wise to continue seeking potential suitors for the left-handed starter, as he could still gain interest in a pitching-hungry market.
Because of the internal replacements available, the Braves could "sell" pieces before the Trade Deadline with the expectation to remain competitive and possibly be postseason contenders throughout the season's second half.
Are the Braves pursuing any starting-pitching options for trade?
As things currently stand, Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb and Julio Teheran are set to be in the Braves' rotation at the start of the next two seasons. Mike Soroka, Kolby Allard, Max Fried and Luiz Gohara will be among the prospects who could be deemed rotation candidates at some point next year.
But if the Braves are going to take another step forward in 2018, it would be in their best interest to pair another front-line starter with Foltynewicz and Newcomb. Teheran's inconsistencies this season have simply strengthened the belief that he shouldn't be viewed as more than a middle-of-the-rotation piece.
So yeah, given their situation and wealth of resources within a rich farm system, it does make sense for the Braves to continue evaluating the possibility of acquiring controllable arms like the A's Sonny Gray, White Sox lefty Jose Quintana or the Rays' Chris Archer.
Given the fact that the Astros, Cubs and Yankees could be among the teams vying to add a starting pitcher before the Trade Deadline, the price for some of these available pitchers might be steep. But the Braves have the resources necessary to compete in this market, which might be more plentiful now than it would be in the offseason.
How come Tyler Flowers was not chosen to be a reserve for the All-Star Game?
There is just one backup catcher on both the American and National League rosters for the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. But even with that being the case, you can certainly argue Flowers was more deserving of that backup spot than the Cardinals' Yadier Molina or many of the Senior Circuit's backstops.
Among NL catchers with at least 200 plate appearances, Flowers ranks second in both batting average (.318) and Weighted Runs Created Plus (136) and fifth with a 1.5 fWAR. The players voted Molina to his eighth All-Star Game despite the fact he has produced a 0.9 fWAR and a below-average 83 WRC+.