The trade deadline is about teams adding value, whether short term or long term. Usually, the deals entail trading hot veterans with short contracts to teams on the cusp of postseason play. Sometimes the traded player is the much-needed spark in the rotation or lineup.
In the Braves case, Matt Adams was acquired after Freddie Freeman broke his wrist. The hole that Freddie left disappeared once Adams checked into the four-hole. He has imitated Freeman’s 2017 stats.
Matt Adams’ domination mimics the MVP year of Matt Kemp. Left fielder Kemp leads the team in BA (.320) and keeps a positive spirit alive in the clubhouse and fan base. His presence is monumental, so much that a trade including him would be disastrous. The Braves have 32 year old Kemp signed through 2019, and the left fielder has several more prime years left.
Brandon Phillips, on the other hand, does not. Soon-to-be 36, Phillips is a pending free agent. The Braves likely bid adieu to Phillips after this year, and this fact makes Brandon the perfect centerpiece of a trade. He currently sports a .303 BA and displays good power for a second baseman. Phillips won a Silver Slugger Award in 2011, and his current season compares favorably. A hot-hitting Brandon Phillips could really help a team seeking a playoff berth, particularly if that team’s starting 2b is a typically soft hitting middle infielder.
Phillips’ presence in Atlanta’s lineup helps fill the void of Freddie Freeman’s absence. The second baseman’s bat helped tack on 12 runs on Friday with the ailing Freeman on the bench. Braves’ fans can only imagine the runs Freeman might add to this suddenly potent Atlanta lineup.
Best teams for Phillips:
Tampa Bay Rays: 40-37 and third in the AL East, the Rays are looking to compete for a wild card berth or division title. Brad Miller, their current second baseman, possesses a .194 BA and is currently on the DL for groin soreness.
The Rays are head-to-head with the Yankees and Red Sox. Brandon Phillips could tilt the odds Tampa’s way.
Texas Rangers: Rougned Odor, Ranger’s second baseman, is hitting .209 and is projected to strike out 156 times. The team is currently at .500 and third in the AL West behind the Astros and Mariners.
Securing a wild card berth looks unlikely because of the top heavy AL East. The Rangers have a stronger chance in vying for a division title.
Milwaukee Brewers: After losing the series against the Braves this weekend, many holes have been magnified. Defensively and offensively, the second base position is struggling. Jonathan Villar is their usual starter with a .213 BA.
The Brewers today cling precariously to first place in the NL Central. Brandon Phillips could lockdown second base, bolster the Brewer lineup and cement the Brew Crew claim to the division lead.
Each team currently struggles at second base position, and each yearns for postseason play. Phillips could be exactly what the doctor ordered.
The trade deadline would be the perfect time to trade Phillips. With luck, Freeman returns from the D soon thereafter. And the Braves have a plethora of middle infielders, both in Atlanta and in their suddenly fertile minor leagues. None will hit as effectively as Phillips, but the Braves have little hope of postseason play this year. Now is the time to trade the hard-hitting Brandon Phillips.
In return, the Braves should seek young prospects, or perhaps reliever help. Closer Jim Johnson’s consistency is, well, inconsistent. A closer’s role combines trust with aggression. The closer is there to secure the team’s win, to sow desperation in opponents and their fans whenever the closer’s team leads in the ninth inning. Johnson doesn’t possess that aura.
Overall, the Braves look decent enough to allow the deadline to pass without action. If the Braves desire to be budget-conscious today and divisionally competitive tomorrow, however, aging but short term producers should be ousted, and fresh new faces called up.