ATLANTA -- Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos might not have completed any superstar acquisitions before the arrival of Tuesday afternoon's Trade Deadline, but within a span of the past six days, he strengthened his current club and protected the organization's bright future by making four deals, none of which was made at a significant cost.
"I like what we've added," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I think we are a better team right now. [We got] some pieces that I think are going to help going forward."
Anthopoulos never grew interested in what the Rays were seeking for Chris Archer, but he managed to gain a controllable starting pitcher on Tuesday by acquiring Kevin Gausman and veteran reliever Darren O'Day from the Orioles in exchange for infielder Jean Carlos Encarnacion, right-handed reliever Evan Phillips, catcher Brett Cumberland, left-hander Bruce Zimmerman and $2.5 million in international slot money.
Encarnacion (14th) and Cumberland (30th) were the only players who ranked among the Braves' top prospects per MLB Pipeline. Phillips showed some promise with Triple-A Gwinnett this year, but he struggled during his short stint in Atlanta's bullpen. As for the international slot money -- an asset also used to acquire relievers Jonny Venters and Brad Brach over the past few days -- it essentially served as funny money for the Braves, who are heavily restricted on the international market because of MLB sanctions.
The Braves are responsible for the remaining money owed to both players acquired Tuesday. Gausman has a $5.6 million salary this season and will have two more arbitration-eligible seasons. O'Day, who is making $9 million this year and in 2019, will miss the rest of this season while recovering from right hamstring surgery. But the Braves believe he could be an asset in the clubhouse this year and on the mound next season.
Gausman has posted a 4.43 ERA, recorded 104 strikeouts and issued 32 walks over 21 starts (124 innings) this season. The 27-year-old right-hander has compiled a 3.13 ERA in 12 starts against teams outside the American League East. The Braves believe their analytics and an improved defensive supporting cast will benefit the hurler, who was taken with the fourth pick in the 2012 Draft.
"We think he's capable of doing more than what he has done," Anthopoulos said. "I think what he has done now is very solid, but he's shown in past years he has more upside. So maybe we can tap into that. That's the upside and the risk."
The Braves approached the Trade Deadline attempting to do whatever necessary to extend their tight division battle, and Anthopoulos recognized the need to upgrade his rotation, bullpen and bench.
Anthopoulos has since strengthened the bullpen with the additions of lefty Venters and righty Brach, who was also acquired from the Orioles. Gausman adds much-needed depth to a rotation that over the past few weeks counted Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb and Anibal Sanchez as its only reliable pieces. Julio Teheran's inconsistencies necessitated the acquisition of another starter.
"We didn't go into this thing saying we have to get a starter," Anthopoulos said. "We love what some of our guys have done. We have guys like [Kolby] Allard up here. Max Fried has done a nice job and is really starting to turn the corner. We just moved some guys up to Gwinnett. We're excited about that rotation. We think we have a lot of depth. We were just looking for the right value and the right deal."
The Braves also upgraded their offense with Monday night's acquisition of outfielder Adam Duvall from the Reds. Duvall, one of the game's best defensive outfielders, will provide power potential off the bench and create an opportunity to move Ronald Acuna Jr. to center when Ender Inciarte sits against left-handed pitchers. He also could factor into the team's plans for the 2019 season.
Anthopoulos will attempt to fortify his club with waiver wire deals in August. But for now, he at least has reason to think he has strengthened his team enough to remain postseason contenders.
"We'll see at the end of September," Anthopoulos said. "We looked to make the team better both short term and long term."