Five trade candidates for the Braves after losing the reigning NL MVP for the season

The Atlanta Braves announced Sunday night that outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., the reigning winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award, will miss the remainder of the 2024 season after suffering a complete ACL tear. Acuña’s injury occurred during Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, when he attempted to redirect his momentum while running the bases. This is the third time in his career he has been sidelined with an ACL-related injury, having missed a month in 2018 and then significantly more time in 2021-22.

The Braves, who enter Monday six games behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East, don’t have many good in-house options. They have Adam Duvall on their active roster and three players with on-field experience who are stationed in Triple-A and on their 40-man roster: JP Martínez, Forrest Wall and Luke Williams. So it’s fair to think they’ll be looking for outside help between now and Major League Baseball’s trade deadline on July 30.

Who could the Braves target? Let’s take a look at five potential top names. Note that this is more of an art than a science, and there is still a long way to go before the crazy season begins. (Also, players are shown in no particular order.)

Let’s be real: Pham was signed by the lowly White Sox to be traded at the deadline. Although he only made his debut at the end of April, he had good performances in his first 32 matches. Indeed, he hit .313/.358/.445 with three home runs in 137 plate appearances. Although he celebrated his 36th birthday in March, he remains capable of putting the ball in the ball, with his average exit velocity topping 90 mph on the year to date. Pham has been traded in each of the last two deadlines. We expect this streak to reach three before the calendar flips to August.

Perry Minasian is very familiar with key members of the Braves front office, having worked in Atlanta before taking over the Angels. Unfortunately for Minasian, his Angels team is a few years away. There’s no real reason to keep Ward, who turned 30 last December and will qualify for free agency after the 2026 season. Ward is poised to have one of the best seasons of his career, after hitting ..274/.330/.483 in his first 52 games this season.

Rooker, who turned 30 in November, beat the Quad-A tags to play in last year’s All-Star Game. He’s off to another strong start this season, hitting .286/.368/.565 with 11 homers in his first 42 games. Rooker has a boom-or-bust profile that could go south in any given year — even this season he’s striking out in nearly 33 percent of his plate appearances — which should allow the Athletics to separate himself from him more easily in the championship. deadline. Additionally, there’s no indication the A’s care about their on-field product ahead of this offseason’s move to Sacramento.

The Marlins, led by new baseball executive Peter Bendix, have already announced they are open for summer business by trading Luis Arraez to the San Diego Padres. Why stop there? De La Cruz has been a hot candidate for years thanks to his ability to make an impact on baseball. Unfortunately, he’s been mostly an average hitter in the league since his rookie season. The Braves might think they can get more out of De La Cruz before his winter 2027 free agency date. If so, perhaps there is potential here for intra-divisional trades between old enemies.

As with Pham, the Nationals signed Winker with the goal of moving him at the deadline. He rebounded from back-to-back disappointing seasons to hit .264/.379/.455 against right-handed pitching. Of course, we’re including a split for a reason: Winker isn’t particularly good against lefties and would need a platoon partner if the Braves (or whoever employs him in August) want to maximize his production. This might be less desirable for the Braves, who are already going to great lengths to avoid Jarred Kelenic facing a pitch from the same hand.

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