Oh sure, re-signing Aaron Nola to a mega-deal was big and had to be done, but it wasn’t a new addition, so it doesn’t really feel like Dave Dombrowski did anything. But let’s not sleep on that acquisition, it was huge. It sure sounds like they tried to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but that was always a long-shot.
Atlanta, meanwhile, has been busy as bees. Here is every somewhat major move they’ve made since the start of the off-season:
- Chicago White Sox traded LHP Aaron Bummer to Atlanta Braves for RHP Michael Soroka, LHP Jared Shuster, SS Nicky Lopez, SS Braden Shewmake and RHP Riley Gowens.
- Atlanta Braves traded RHP Kyle Wright to Kansas City Royals for RHP Jackson Kowar.
- Atlanta Braves traded RHP Cole Phillips and RHP Jackson Kowar to Seattle Mariners for LHP Marco Gonzales, OF Jarred Kelenic and 1B Evan White.
- Atlanta Braves traded LHP Marco Gonzales and cash to Pittsburgh Pirates for Player To Be Named Later.
- Atlanta Braves signed free agent LHP Angel Perdomo.
- Los Angeles Angels traded C Max Stassi and SS David Fletcher to Atlanta Braves for 1B Evan White and LHP Tyler Thomas.
- Atlanta Braves traded C Max Stassi and cash to Chicago White Sox for Player To Be Named Later.
- San Diego Padres traded DH Matt Carpenter, LHP Ray Kerr and cash to Atlanta Braves for CF Drew Campbell.
- Atlanta Braves released DH Matt Carpenter.
- Atlanta Braves traded SS Vaughn Grissom to Boston Red Sox for LHP Chris Sale and cash.
Here’s what the Phillies have done:
- Tampa Bay Rays traded RHP Michael Mercado to Philadelphia Phillies for RHP Adam Leverett and cash.
- Philadelphia Phillies traded 2B Oliver Dunn to Milwaukee Brewers for LF Hendry Mendez and SS Robert Moore.
- Philadelphia Phillies signed free agent RHP Aaron Nola.
Aaaand, that’s pretty much it.
Of course, if you look at the Braves’ moves, nothing really tilts the needle except for their acquisition of Chris Sale for young infielder Vaughn Grissom. Sale will be the team’s No. 3 starter coming off a season in which he made 20 starts and put up a 4.30 ERA for the Red Sox. It’s a definite improvement, although how much so remains to be seen, given his injury history.
It is intriguing the Braves made this move and gave up Grissom, their talented young prospect who entered 2023 as the presumed starting shortstop but was outplayed in the spring by Orlando Arcia. Arcia ended up making the All Star team by having a career year offensively. Atlanta obviously feels good enough about Arcia’s ability to replicate that success they could roll the dice and deal away Grissom for an injury-riddled starting pitcher in his mid-30s.
Last year, the 22-year-old Grissom hit .330/.419/.501 in 468 PAs in AAA, with 8 HRs and 36 doubles.
After two straight losses to the Phillies in the divisional round of the playoffs, the Braves dealt away a highly-regarded young player for an aging veteran pitcher. It’s a risky move, and one that will pay off nicely if Sale wins them a few Game 3’s in the postseason this year.
The Phillies are in a similar win-now mode. Could Dombrowski make a similar trade?
The Phils suddenly have a glut of center field prospects in the minors that could be used to add an important piece to the big league club, specifically the bullpen. Johan Rojas didn’t hit much after being called up, but among 109 MLB center fielders who played at least 50 innings in that position, Rojas’ 15 Defensive Runs Saved ranked 4th. If he puts up even a .700 OPS over a full season, he’s likely a 3-4 win player.
Their top position player prospect is 19-year-old former first round pick Justin Crawford, who batted .288/.366/.425 in 82 plate appearances in High-A last season and is ticketed for AA Reading, perhaps as early as the start of the 2024 season. He doesn’t have the pedigree of a Grissom, but is a borderline top-100 prospect. Given Rojas’ ascension, could Crawford be moved in a package for a top-end closer, like Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase? Christian Pache could also be an option, but he has far less trade value than Rojas or Crawford. It’s unlikely he could return an impact big league player. In terms of pitchers, young fireballer Orion Kerkering or Griff McGarry could be interesting, depending on the team.
Ultimately it would be great if the Phillies didn’t have to move a young player/prospect in an off-season trade. The goal would be for Rojas’ or Pache’s bat to improve and use their assets at the trade deadline for other needs.
That said, Atlanta’s pursuit of Sale is a possible blueprint for something the Phils could do if the right deal came along.