Before the Braves open the second half with a three-game series with the D-backs, let's take a look at some of the questions on your mind.How aggressive will the Braves shop Brandon Phillips and Matt Adams?
-- @BeckerTheWrecka Phillips and Jaime Garcia seem to be the most likely veterans the
Before the Braves open the second half with a three-game series with the D-backs, let's take a look at some of the questions on your mind.
How aggressive will the Braves shop Brandon Phillips and Matt Adams?
Phillips and Jaime Garcia seem to be the most likely veterans the Braves could move before the July 31 Trade Deadline. Adams will only be dealt if it is believed the current return would likely trump the potential one that could be gained this winter, when more potential suitors could be in play.
Sean Rodriguez could return from left shoulder surgery next week and Johan Camargo has shown he is capable of filling an everyday role. Either of these two could fill the second base position in the absence of Phillips, who will receive a $500,000 assignment bonus from the Braves if he's traded.
• Submit a question to the Braves Inbox
This was the cost the Braves agreed to when they acquired Phillips from the Reds less than 48 hours after learning Rodriguez needed surgery and might be lost for the remainder of the season. Now that Camargo has emerged, Rodriguez has healed much sooner than expected and Ozzie Albies has put himself on the cusp of being big league ready. The Braves can now comfortably seek a return for Phillips, who will draw interest from contending teams looking to economically add a dependable bat for this season's final two months.
Phillips has a 12-team, no-trade clause in his contract, but at the same time, he will want to continue being an everyday player as he prepares to hit the free agent market this winter. His attractiveness to potential trade partners will be enhanced by the fact that the Reds are paying $13 million of the $14 million he is owed this season. Thus, the financial cost of acquiring him would likely be less than $400,000 (depending on when the deal is completed).
Adams would garner a greater return than Phillips, but the Braves might be willing to stick with Freddie Freeman at third base for the remainder of this season if they feel they might get more for Adams this winter. Yes, this arrangement makes them weaker at both corner infield spots, but there is a chance they'll spend the season's final two months evaluating the offensive benefits.
Do you see the Braves trading one of the corner outfielders?
With Ronald Acuna fast-tracking his way toward Atlanta and creating the possibility he could be deemed big league ready by the start of next season, the Braves have no choice but to evaluate how to best create a spot for him in the lineup. An offseason move might seem more likely, but they will at least do their due diligence by seeing what they could get in return for Nick Markakis, whose contract expires at the end of 2018. The struggles Matt Kemp has endured since tweaking his hamstring in June have likely erased whatever slim possibility there might have been of him and his contract being moved by the end of this month.
Could Freddie Freeman still be the MVP?
It seems unlikely, but if the Braves make the postseason, there's certainly reason to believe much of the credit will go to Freeman, who despite missing seven weeks with a fractured left wrist is still on pace to record his second straight 30-homer season.
Freeman has produced a 2.9 bWAR through just 43 games and 193 plate appearances. To put that in perspective, Paul Goldschmidt has constructed a National League-best 4.2 bWAR through 88 games and 381 plate appearances.
Among Major Leaguers with at least 190 plate appearances, Freeman ranks first in OPS (1.201), first in OPS+ (206.2) and second in batting average (.344).
It might seem ridiculous to contemplate the National League MVP candidacy of a player who missed a quarter of the season. But if Freeman extends his ridiculous pace and the Braves are successful in the second half, he might at least create an interesting argument.
What would be the market for Julio Teheran if he is available?
Remember before the 2016 season, when I was saying the Braves should trade Teheran because his trade value might not ever return. Then I had to alter my tune last year, when he restored that value to a respectable level.
Well, maybe I don't want to get fooled again, so I'll just say it would be wise for the Braves to get what they can for Teheran at some point this year. Maybe his splits (7.58 ERA in nine home starts and a 2.53 ERA in nine road starts) are a fluke or a product of getting used to a new stadium. But while we know SunTrust Park will be around next year, we don't yet know which Teheran you're going to get from a start-to-start basis.
Given the number of contenders who will seek pitching over the next couple weeks, the Braves will certainly receive calls from clubs interested in having Teheran provide some stability to the middle of their rotation. The competition in this market might actually make this a prime time for the Braves to get a good return for the inconsistent right-hander.
What Braves prospects to you expect to see in the Majors in the second half?
At some point in time we'll likely see Albies, the dynamic switch-hitter who has halted his struggles against right-handed pitchers, as he has batted .381/.394/.571 over his past 14 games. Also keep an eye on the progress made by left-handed reliever A.J. Minter, who was recently promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett. Minter has never pitched back-to-back-days since recovering from the Tommy John surgery he underwent during his final year at Texas A&M. But If he remains healthy and productive, he has the capability to make an immediate impact in Atlanta's bullpen.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.