Ahead of Deadline, Braves look toward future

Ahead of Deadline, Braves look toward future

ATLANTA -- Though the Braves did not make a significant move before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline expired, they believe they've already enriched their pipeline, cleaned their payroll and shaped the middle of their 2017 lineup with the multiple trades completed over the past couple of months.

After making a big splash by acquiring Matt Kemp from the Padres on Saturday, the Braves opted not to trade Nick Markakis, Ender Inciarte, Jim Johnson or any of their players who drew interest leading up to Monday's Deadline. But there is still a chance they could make some moves in August, when a player must first be put through waivers before he is traded.

The Braves essentially turned nothing into something when they acquired Kemp from the Padres in exchange for Hector Olivera, who was never expected to play in Atlanta when his domestic violence suspension ends on Tuesday. They also turned minimal value into potentially attractive value last week, when they traded Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez to the Rangers for Minor League slugger Travis Demeritte, who now ranks as Atlanta's ninth-best prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com.

Braves general manager John Coppolella also took advantage of other team's sudden needs when he traded Kelly Johnson and Bud Norris in June. Norris' one good month netted two Minor League pitchers (Caleb Dirks and Phil Pfeifer) from the Dodgers, who had just learned of Clayton Kershaw's back ailment.

Akeel Morris, who ranks as the Braves' 28th-best prospect, was acquired for Johnson after the Mets placed David Wright on the disabled list.

Though he has proven he is never scared to make a deal, Coppolella was never tempted enough by the offers he received during the final hours leading up to Monday's Deadline.

Kemp's arrival has provided further reason to believe the Braves will trade either Inciarte or Markakis before the start of the 2017 season, when Mallex Smith, another left-handed hitting outfielder with little power potential, could once again be one of Atlanta's everyday outfielders.

There was some reason to wonder if the Orioles might attempt to bring Markakis back to Baltimore, but those talks never seemed to gain much traction. Still, there is a chance the Braves could attempt to trade Markakis in August. Given he is owed $22 million through 2018, there's a good chance he will pass through waivers.

Johnson, who was named the National League Player of the Week on Monday, and Hunter Cervenka both drew interest from multiple teams. But because they did not receive suitable offers, the Braves opted to keep both of these relievers, with the hope of avoiding the frequent late-inning misery in the future.

While also exploring the possibility to address their need for a catcher beyond this season, the Braves talked about reuniting with Brian McCann if the Yankees were willing to eat at least half of the $34 million the former All-Star is owed through the end of 2018. But New York's return ask exceeded the Braves' comfort level.

Still, the Braves may revisit the possibility of trading for McCann this winter, when they have a better sense of who else might be available and what the cost might be to sign Wilson Ramos, who will likely be the most attractive catcher on this winter's free-agent market.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.