They may be overlooked when considering the World Series favorites, but the Atlanta Braves are still a strong contender. Atlanta currently has a record of 62-41 and sits 3.5 games back in the NL East. Even if they are unable to catch the Mets for first place they are in a prime position to secure a Wild Card spot.
As the MLB trade deadline looms each team is in search of adding the final pieces to their rosters. The Braves are no different and should be looking at the looming targets to put them over the edge. The team won the World Series just last year and still has most of its core in place.
Prior to last year's trade deadline, the Braves added four outfielders in Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson, and Eddie Rosario. Each guy played a vital role in Atlanta's postseason success. Eddie Rosario even won the National League Championship MVP and Jorge Soler was named World Series MVP for his strong play.
Unfortunately, there has not been as much success this season. Duvall is out for the year after undergoing season-ending wrist surgery. Rosario has spent time on the injured list this year and currently hitting just .159 at the plate. Joc Pederson elected to leave in free agency to sign with the San Francisco Giants but is rumored to be available for trade once again.
The Braves saw success last year by bringing in outfield help at the deadline and should explore the same strategy once again this season. The team was just 51-54 at the deadline last year but this did not stop them from looking to contend. The franchise is in a much better position this year and should be motivated to do the same.
Joc Pederson played half a season for the Braves and just might end up on the franchise’s Mt. Rushmore anyway. pic.twitter.com/KNa2ayz5wE
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) November 5, 2021
The trade deadline deal destined to make Braves World Series favorites
Braves Get: Joc Pederson, Darin Ruf
Giants Get: Jared Shuster (No 7 prospect), AJ Smith-Shawver (No 14 prospect), Douglas Glod (No 26 prospect)
If it ain't broke don't fix it. The Braves added Joc Pederson at last year's deadline and won a World Series. While it is a year later under different circumstances, Atlanta should look to do the same. Joc Pederson was a fan-favorite and impact player during his time with the Braves. He played a major role in each of the past two seasons and is only the ninth player in MLB history to win back-to-back World Series championships on different teams.
While he had an option to return this season, Pederson elected to sign with the Giants in free agency. There were seemingly no hard feelings and the 29-year-old hinted at Freddy Freeman's departure as one of the reasons for his departure. Joc Pederson was an All-Star this season and is still playing at a high level. He is hitting .242 on the season and has knocked in 17 home runs. It is also worth noting that he recently landed on the injury report for a concussion so there is some risk involved. Darin Ruf would also be a nice addition as a power hitter in the lineup. The perception around the MLB seems to be the Giants would be willing to part with just about any veteran, and Ruf would be a nice bat to add to the Braves roster.
The prospects are worth noting but a hurdle worth clearing from the Braves' perspective. Jared Shuster has had success at Double-A and has seen increased velocity on his fastball. He does not have the highest ceiling but is expected to be a quality starter nonetheless. AJ Smith-Shawver and Douglas Glod are each extremely young and early in their developmental process. Smith-Shaver, 19, and Glod, 17, would help increase the long-term hope for the Giants and help them to retool their farm system moving forward.
It has been somewhat surprising the seeming lack of optimism surrounding the defending champions. The franchise is better positioned than they were at this time last year when everything clicked into place. The loss of Freddie Freeman is certainly notable but Atlanta still has a great deal of talent. Adding Joc Pederson back to the core along with the power-hitting bat in Darin Ruf would surely increase the outlook.
It is very difficult to win a World Series and even harder to repeat. However, there should be a greater optimism surrounding the Braves than there seems to be. Making this final change and hoping for the bats to get hot is the recipe the Braves should stick to. The deadline is just a few hours away and expect Atlanta to be working the phones as you read this.