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Braves’ Strategy: Acquiring a 4-Time All-Star for Acuna

The Atlanta Braves are facing a challenging season after losing their star player, Ronald Acuna Jr., to a devastating ACL injury.

This setback has forced the team to explore options for replacing him while addressing concerns within their pitching rotation.

Key Takeaways
  • The Braves are searching for a replacement after Acuna Jr. suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
  • The Braves might target George Springer from the Toronto Blue Jays or other high-profile outfielders like Kyle Tucker from the Houston Astros.
  • Beyond replacing Acuna Jr., the Braves may also need to bolster their pitching rotation before the trade deadline.

Braves’ Quest to Replace Ronald Acuna Jr.

Heading into June, the Atlanta Braves had a solid 32-23 record but faced challenges keeping up with the red-hot Philadelphia Phillies, who currently hold the best record in the league.

The Braves’ efforts are commendable, especially considering the early-season loss of ace Spencer Strider after just two starts.

However, the situation worsened dramatically when their top star, 2023 National League MVP Ronald Acuna Jr., tore his ACL.

This injury occurred while Acuna Jr. was caught leaning too far from second base, delivering a crushing blow to the Braves’ World Series aspirations.

The team, having won over 100 games in the past two seasons, now faces the daunting task of filling the massive gap left by Acuna Jr.’s absence.

The Braves have publicly indicated a preference for addressing this issue internally. However, if Adam Duvall cannot adequately fill Acuna Jr.’s role, they may look outside the organization for a solution.

MLB insider Jon Heyman has already suggested one potential target.

Considering George Springer as a Replacement

On Friday, Jon Heyman of the New York Post suggested that the Toronto Blue Jays might soon place four-time All-Star George Springer on the trade block.

To facilitate a worthwhile MLB trade, the Blue Jays would likely need to cover most of Springer’s $25 million salary. Heyman also identified the Braves as a “potential fit” for acquiring Springer.

The Braves, known for their prudent financial management, would find this appealing.

Although they wouldn’t need to pay Springer’s salary for the remainder of the season, he still has two years and over $48 million left on his six-year, $150 million contract signed in 2021.

However, it’s worth noting that Springer is currently experiencing one of the worst seasons of his career, with a slash line of .209/.306/.310.

Braves Weigh Costs of Acquiring Astros’ Kyle Tucker

While Springer’s performance this season raises concerns, the Braves might also consider trading for Houston Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker.

The Astros, struggling this year, might be willing to sell. Tucker, emerging as a star, is under contract through 2025. Acquiring him, however, would be costly.

Alex Anthopoulos, the Braves’ general manager, hinted at potential moves during a Memorial Day Weekend appearance on 680 The Fan.

Anthopoulos acknowledged the need to address the outfield, given the pressure on Michael Harris II and the limited outfield depth.

A trade for Tucker would likely involve giving up top pitching prospects like Hurston Waldrep and AJ Smith-Shawver.

Challenges of Acquiring High-Profile Talent

Acquiring a player like Tucker would be expensive, possibly requiring the Braves to part with their top minor-league pitchers.

This situation places additional pressure on their already strained pitching staff. Despite these challenges, the Braves need to make strategic moves to remain competitive.

Anthopoulos’ past success in rebuilding the outfield mid-season, as seen in 2021, offers some hope. However, the cost of acquiring a high-profile talent like Tucker might be prohibitive.

Strengthening the Braves’ Pitching Rotation

While replacing Acuna Jr. is a priority, the Braves also need to bolster their pitching rotation. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that despite offensive struggles, the Braves’ primary need is pitching.

The loss of Spencer Strider to season-ending surgery exacerbates this need. Additionally, concerns about Chris Sale’s potential regression and the reliability of other pitchers add to the urgency.

Max Fried has been solid, but other pitchers face questions about their rotation longevity.

Charlie Morton, who will turn 41 in November, and newcomer Spencer Schwellenbach highlight the uncertainties.

The Braves have one of the most dominant pitching rotations, but Strider’s absence leaves a significant gap.

Potential Moves Before the Trade Deadline

As the July 30 MLB trade deadline approaches, Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos will likely seek additional pieces to bolster the lineup and the pitching staff.

The team’s World Series window remains open, and while catching the Phillies might be challenging, securing a strong position for the playoffs is still within reach.