July 10th, 2021; Things were looking bleak for the Atlanta Braves.
They just snuck in a 5-4 win against the Marlins, bringing their record to .500 at 44-44. The win came with a cost, as they lost their star outfielder, Ronald Acuña Jr. to an ACL injury. They were already down a starting pitcher, as Mike Soroka tore his Achilles less than two weeks prior. A month prior, 2020 NL home run leader and fellow outfielder, Marcell Ozuna, broke his left middle and ring fingers with a headfirst slide. What was supposed to be a temporary hiatus turned south, when he was arrested a few days after the injury on charges of aggravated assault.
The rumor mill began and nobody knew what the Braves were going to do. Were they going to stand pat with massive gaps in the lineup? Would the sell off their assets and regroup for next season? Would they deal their leader in Freddie Freeman after failing to negotiate a contract prior to his free agency in the upcoming offseason? Well, no... Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said "hold my beer" and got to work.
It started off by getting a name, and that was Joc Pederson. The former Dodger and World Series champion was with the Cubs, who also were in an awkward spot. This was the first player to be dealt in their upcoming fire-sale, and the Braves hoped in, with hopes of staying competitive in a tight NL East race. Trading 1B prospect Bryce Ball, Pederson was a offense catalyst and an overall nice snag, but the Braves decided that wasn't enough. In the coming days, the Braves added a flurry of players.
OF Eddie Rosario for INF Pablo Sandoval
OF Adam Duvall for C Alex Jackson
OF Jorge Soler for prospect P Kasey Kalich
C Stephen Vogt for minor league 1B Mason Berne
RP Richard Rodriguez for pitchers Bryce Wilson and Ricky DeVito
A new "Fab-Four", plus some depth, came into the clubhouse, meshed with the team, and took them to the Promise Land. The final costs for these trades added $7,743,280 to vital parts to Atlanta's success. The four combined for 59 homers this season with the Braves, 12 of them coming this postseason. Pederson's bat helped them beat the Brewers in the NLDS. Eddie Rosario was the NLCS MVP. Adam Duvall had a couple homers in the World Series. Jorge Soler batted .300 with three home runs, including a MASSIVE one in game six that helped him collect the MVP honors.
The trade deadline is meant for contenders to go out and get their reinforcements for a playoff push. This isn't new news. Ben Zobrist hit .303 with two homers, six RBIs and had an .880 OPS in 16 postseason games for the Royals 2015 World Series win after being dealt by the A's. Yankees All-Star closer, Aroldis Chapman, finished the 2016 postseason with four saves and 21 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings, helping the Cubs get their first World Series in 108 years. Steve Pearce knocked in eight RBIs and three home runs in the postseason, winning the World Series MVP in 2018 for the Red Sox. Then there's Justin Verlander, David Cone, David Justice, and plenty more.
But in July, the Braves were not a contender. They were in no position to win the World Series back in July. They were barely a five hundred team, they were sitting 3rd in the NL East, and they lost major contributors to season ending injuries. The front office could've taken the easy way out
Although down, they never considered themselves out. They haven't won a World Series since 1995. Making these moves were important not only to the team ownership, but it gave confidence to the players and fans. It showed that they were not going to go without a fight, and they wanted to offer assurance to 12-year first baseman, Freddie Freeman. Have we ever seen a team land four high quality players, all of whom play the same position, and have them go absolutely parabolic? If it wasn't for the approval from Braves chairman Terry McGuirk, who lifted the payroll to make these trades, would the Braves be where they are today? I am sure the fans are happy with how the deadline turned out.