The Braves, a surprise contender in the National League East, figured to have a conservative approach before Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
But now, they’re going to take aim at the NL East title with three former Orioles pitchers and an outfielder with 30-home run power.
The Braves acquired Orioles starter Kevin Gausman and two relievers, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach in two separate deals since Sunday.
Gausman joins a rotation that has Anibal Sanchez, Sean Newcomb, Mike Foltynewicz. The Braves will also be counting on untested prospects and will use a six-man rotation to save wear and tear on the young arms. The Braves’ biggest mystery is the inconsistent pitching of Julio Teheran, who was supposed to be their best pitcher. If Teheran is pitching better, chances are they don’t go after Gausman, who has two years and two months left before he’s eligible for free agency.
Jonny Venters, a rock-solid reliever in the Braves’ bullpen from 2010 to 2012, returns to the Braves from Tampa Bay. Venters had a 3.86 ERA for Tampa Bay in 22 games. The Braves hope a change of scenery will return Brach to a consistent pitcher.
And the Braves added outfielder Adam Duvall, who has struggled with power after two consecutive 30-home runs seasons for Cincinnati. Duvall will play left field against left-handed pitching as well a bat off the bench.
When Duvall plays left, the Braves will move Robert Acuna Jr. from left to center field and sit Ender Inciarte.
The non-waiver trade deadline has passed, leaving a new landscape for October contenders. Trades, of course, can still be made, but most of the heavy lifting is finished.
Here’s a look:
HOUSTON: The defending World Series champions had to use starters in relief roles last year in the postseason, but this year, that might not happen. The Astros acquired two relievers, Ryan Pressly from the Twins, and Roberto Osuna, 23, from the Blue Jays. They join a bullpen that has Will Harris, Tony Sipp, Chris Devenski, Collin McHugh, Joe Smith, Brad Peacock and Héctor Rondón. Pressly is a workhorse reliever and Osuna, with 104 career saves as a Blue Jay, is controversial because he’s on trial in Canada for alleged domestic abuse. And, Osuna’s 75-game suspension by Major League Baseball for domestic abuse ends Saturday. Osuna joins the Astros Sunday in Los Angeles. Could that be a distraction from the Astros’ tight clubhouse chemistry?
BOSTON: The Red Sox reconfigured their roster as if they are on the bubble for a postseason spot. But the team with the best record in the American League, has added Steve Pearce to the bench, Ian Kinsler as a second baseman and Nathan Eovaldi to the rotation. Pearce has played for all five AL East teams and is a strong hitter with power and versatility. Kinsler, 36, who arrived from the Angels, isn’t the same offensive force he was in his prime, but the Red Sox needed a second baseman. Dustin Pedroia isn’t recovering from an injured left knee. Eovaldi, who pitched seven strong innings in his Red Sox debut, has a mid-90s fastball and gives the Red Sox a second right-hander in a rotation that has lefties Chris Sale and David Price and right-hander Rick Porcello. Also, the Red Sox could use Eovaldi in the bullpen, something he did for the 2011 Dodgers and 2016 Yankees.
PHILADELPHIA: The Phillies, who with the Braves are a surprise contender, wanted Manny Machado for their lineup, but ended up with Asdrúbal Cabrera, a .277 hitter with 18 home runs. Cabrera played second base for the Mets, and, while he’s lost range at his former position, shortstop, the Phillies are hoping his bat makes up for it. The Phillies need rotation help for Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola, especially since Nick Pivetta has a 6.84 ERA in 10 starts since June 1. ... The Phillies also acquired catcher Wilson Ramos from the Rays, even though he’s been on the disabled list since July 17 with a hamstring injury. The Nationals were interested in bringing Ramos back to D.C. The Phillies were developing catcher Jorge Alfaro and he’s was doing well, but apparently, the Phillies are serious about winning the NL East.
MILWAUKEE: The Brewers are top-heavy with infielders, but short in the rotation. They traded for a power-hitting left-handed batting third baseman, Mike Moustakas of Kansas City. Never mind that they already had one in Travis Shaw, who played second until the Brewers acquired the Orioles’ Jonathan Schoop. The Brewers have an infield glut with the platoon of Jesus Aguilar and lefty Eric Thames at first. They have Moustakas and Shaw for third and defensive-minded Orlando Arcia at short as well as Schoop at second. The glut of infielders is impressive, but the Brewers need starting pitching.
OAKLAND: Usually at this time of year, teams are calling the Athletics to see what players they want to trade. This year, the A’s are in contention for a wild-card spot so they added Mets closer Jeurys Familia to one of the top bullpens in the league that includes former National, All-Star Blake Treinen as the closer.
CHICAGO: The Cubs have two reliable starters, Jon Lester and Carlos Quintana, so adding lefty Cole Hamels, 34, was a must. Maybe the third time is a charm for rotation help. Yu Darvish, signed as a free agent in the offseason, is on the disabled list with a biceps injury. Tyler Chatwood, former Rockies pitcher in his first year with the Cubs, hosts a walk-a-thon every five days and is in the bullpen. Kyle Hendricks struggles to go deep into games. Hamels was the Phillies’ 2008 World Series MVP against manager Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay. Maddon, of course, manages the Cubs. Hamels’ ERA at Wrigley Field is 1.76 in six career starts. He’s at 4.71 for the season and at 3.48 for 16 postseason starts. ... The Cubs also acquired relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler from Washington.
LOS ANGELES: The Dodgers acquired second baseman Brian Dozier from the Twins. Dozier, eligible for free agency after the season, is having a down season. His average from last year has dropped 30 points to .241. He has 16 home runs. In two previous seasons with the Twins, he hit 42 and 34 home runs. ... The Dodgers also added former Oriole Manny Machado, who hit a home run in his Dodger Stadium debut. He’s gone from wearing No. 13 to No. 8, partly to honor Lakers star Kobe Bryant - and tells reporters he’ll keep an open mind about signing long-term with the Dodgers, who are trying to win their first World Series since 1988. But, how would Machado fit into the Dodgers’ lineup? He wants to play shortstop and the Dodgers will have Corey Seager returning from the disabled list next season. And while Machado is playing third base for the injured Justin Turner this year, Turner has signed a long-term contract. When Turner returns in early August, Machado will go back to shortstop with Chris Taylor the shortstop moving to center field. ... Machado and his former teammate, Jonathan Schoop, will face each other LA this week when Schoop joins the Brewers.
CLEVELAND: The Indians are going to win the AL Central and have the rotation to get back into the World Series, where they lost to the Cubs in 2016. But do they have the bullpen, ever so important in the postseason? Before the trade, the Indians had one of the worst bullpens in baseball. So, the Indians added closer Brad Hand and sidearmer Adam Cimber to their bullpen from San Diego. The Indians bullpen has been trending the wrong way this season. They lost Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith from a year ago. Cody Allen has struggled as a closer. Dan Otero and Andrew Miller have struggled as well, and Miller’s been out with a knee injury. Hand, who went back and forth from bullpen to rotation with the Marlins, was traded to San Diego in 2016, the Padres made him a reliever and he’s developed into one of the top closers. He had 65 strikeouts in 44 innings before the Padres traded him. Cimber is a rookie who had 51 strikeouts in 48 innings before the trade. Cimber is under team control in Cleveland through 2023, Hand through 2021. ... The Indians wanted the Orioles’ Adam Jones for center field, but wound up with Leonys Martin from the Tigers. Martin’s strength is defense.
NEW YORK: The Yankees, likely to be a 100-win team playing in the one-game wild card playoff when October arrives, added two starters - lefty J.A. Happ from the Blue Jays and Lance Lynn from the Twins - and a reliever, former Orioles lefty Zach Britton. Happ, 35, struggled in his final three starts for the Blue Jays, but he pitched seven strong innings in his Yankees debut, and he has a career 2.98 ERA against division-leading Boston. Lynn, who like the Orioles’ Alex Cobb signed late in spring training, has had stretches of good and bad in Minnesota. The Yankees are desperate in the rotation after Luis Severino. CC Sabathia is 38, Masahiro Tanaka is inconsistent and Sonny Gray hasn’t been able to get it going. Britton won’t close, but his well-rested arm and 97 mph sinker will make the fiercest bullpen in the AL even deeper.
ARIZONA: The Diamondbacks watched Manny Machado go to the Dodgers, so they picked up utility infielder Eduardo Escobar from the Twins. Escobar, 29, is a switch-hitter who can play third, short and second with 37 doubles and a .338 on-base percentage at the time of the trade. The Diamondbacks need help on the left side of the infield. Third baseman Jake Lamb (shoulder) is on the disabled list and the shortstop platoon of Nick Ahmed and Ketel Marte struggles. ... The Diamondbacks also added Matt Andriese (Tampa Bay) and Brad Ziegler (Miami) to their bullpen.
SEATTLE: The Mariners added three relievers: Adam Warren (Yankees) and Sam Tuivailala (Cardinals) will be there in the late innings to take care of right-handed batters and lefty Zach Duke (Twins) will help with the lefty opponents in key situations. ... The Mariners also acquired Marlins outfielder Cameron Maybin to help their outfield. Dee Gordon, who had moved from second base to center field after the Mariners acquired him in the offseason, is back at second base because Robinson Cano, suspended for PED use. Cano is not eligible for the postseason.