Can the Braves add a bat at the trade deadline?

The Atlanta Braves offense finally showed some life in Game 1 of their doubleheader against the Padres, but it still wasn’t enough to get the win as they failed to get timely hits with runners in scoring position. Joe Jimenez deserves a lot of the blame for the loss – the Braves’ fourth in a row – but he’s the last thing the club should be worried about.

Shockingly, Atlanta’s offense has been among the worst in baseball for more than a month. No one could have expected this after a historic 2023 campaign, and while it’s far too early to panic, one wonders if the offense, rather than the pitching staff, could be the Braves’ focus heading into to the trade deadline.

Most of Atlanta’s lineup is essentially what it is. The Braves have to hope that Ronald Acuña Jr. Matt Olson and Austin Riley end up getting hot. Marcell Ozuna has been one of the best offensive players in baseball, Sean Murphy is expected to be back soon and Michael Harris II isn’t going anywhere. There are really only two areas where the Braves could upgrade at the trade deadline: shortstop and left field.

Depending on how the next few months go, Alex Anthopoulos could feel like the club has squeezed everything possible out of Orlando Arcia. He was incredible in the first half of last season and has been really good to start this year. Arcia is also a Gold Glove-caliber defensive shortstop; it’s hard to find a better bargain on the position. But the reality is that he is a below-average offensive player, and when it’s bad, it’s really bad. If an opportunity arises for the Braves at the trade deadline to upgrade at shortstop now and in the future, don’t be shocked if Anthopoulos takes advantage.

Anthopoulos could also look long and hard in left field. It’s far too early to call the Jarred Kelenic experiment a failure; it would also be a trial with him. But as for this year, the Braves may have to find a better option if things continue to trend in this direction. Since April 17, Kelenic is hitting .161 with a .462 OPS. No line of defense can compensate for that.

The Braves could turn to Adam Duvall more often, but so far he hasn’t been much better with the stick, hitting just .206 with a .644 OPS in 25 games.

Left field is where I think the Braves can really add some spice to the lineup before the trade deadline. Hopefully that won’t be necessary, but there are a lot of guys in the pop league who can play the outfield and can be had relatively cheaply. Just look at what the Braves were able to add in 2021, making moves for Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall without giving up any significant prospects.

Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire