This is the third article in a series exploring possible trade partners for the Cubs, as they look to upgrade before the August 1 trade deadline. Today, we look at the Atlanta Braves.
If you’ve been following baseball at all, you know that the Atlanta Braves are terrible. They’re in full rebuilding mode as they prepare to open a new stadium next year and figure to keep looking for young talent via trades. Do they have any players who could help the Cubs?
The problem, from the Braves’ perspective, is that they have few players who will be in high demand at the trade deadline. Most of their major league players are either young guys who they see as potentially part of their future or veterans who have long passed their prime. Ace starter Julio Teheran and closer Arodys Vizcaino – the latter acquired from the Cubs for Tommy La Stella before the 2015 season – would both bring back a lot in a trade with a contender, but both are only 25 and may be worth holding onto. It looks like the Braves will also hold onto star first baseman Freddie Freeman.
None of those players would be a fit for the Cubs anyway. Looking at their roster, left fielder Jeff Francoeur is having a decent year with the bat but doesn’t take many walks and is, at this point in his career, an average defender at best. Nick Markakis came over to the Braves before last season and suddenly forgot how to hit home runs. But he does make a lot of contact and has somehow managed to drive in 29 runs while batting just .246 with a .339 slugging percentage hitting in the Braves’ anemic lineup. Since he only plays right field, he wouldn’t be of much value to the Cubs. Not to mention, the Braves still owe him $22 million combined through 2018.
Elsewhere, veteran Kelly Johnson would have some value as a utility player, except like most other Braves he’s also having a terrible year at the plate. In the bullpen, veteran right-hander Alexi Ogando figures to draw interest from several contenders, but the Cubs are more in need of left-handed help.
Most likely possibilities: Francoeur might be a last resort in the Cubs’ search for a backup outfielder, but otherwise I don’t really see a match with these two clubs.