ATLANTA -- To acquire Hector Olivera before last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Braves parted ways with their top prospect, weakened their rotation and depleted their already-thin bullpen. Consequently, they experienced long stretches of futility over the season's final two months.
One year later, in an attempt to further distance themselves from the most regrettable trade of general manager John Coppolella's young tenure, the Braves disavowed themselves of their relationship with Olivera and gambled on the possibility that Matt Kemp's presence will enrich their long-term future and also make this season's final two months more pleasurable.
"We look at this as probably the first piece of starting to look at what we're going to do this winter, as far as adding other pieces into this mix," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said Saturday night after acquiring Kemp from the Padres. Olivera was never expected to play in Atlanta even after his 82-game domestic violence suspension ends on Tuesday.
The Braves owed $28.5 million to Olivera, who was acquired from the Dodgers last year in exchange for top prospect Jose Peraza, left-handed starter Alex Wood and relievers Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan. For an additional $8.5 million per year over the next three seasons, they will now give Kemp a chance to prove he is capable of providing adequate protection to Freddie Freeman while delivering the power potential that does not exist within their organization's upper levels.
Now that the Braves have targeted Kemp to serve as their primary left fielder, they will continue looking at the possibility of trading either Ender Inciarte or Nick Markakis. It seems more likely that they would keep Inciarte to team with Mallex Smith and Kemp to serve as their primary outfielders heading into the 2017 season.
While there seems to be a good chance the Braves could trade Johnson -- who was re-signed in the offseason -- before Monday's Trade Deadline, they may have to wait until the offseason to deal one of these outfielders. It also seems more likely that Coppolella will address his team's needs for a catcher during the upcoming winter.
The Braves have discussed the possibility of bringing Brian McCann back to Atlanta, but it does not currently appear they will match up with the Yankees. McCann will make $17 million both of the next two seasons. New York would need to be willing to eat nearly half of this remaining contract. But this will likely not occur unless Atlanta compensates by trading at least one of the higher-valued starting pitching prospects.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.