July 21, 2024

The trade deadline is exactly one month away, and the Braves require a lot of help, particularly in the outfield. Michael Harris II should be able to return soon, but Adam Duvall should avoid batting against right-handed pitchers for the remainder of the season, and Forrest Wall and Ramon Laureano cannot be counted on to start routinely.

The Braves will add at least one outfielder and should probably aim for more, as they did in 2021, when Alex Anthopoulos made four separate transactions for outfielders prior of the trade deadline.

Over at The Athletic, Braves beat writer David O’Brien presented four alternative trade scenarios to Jim Bowden, which I’ll go over separately. The first has the Braves returning to the well and making another trade with the Athletics, this time acquiring Brent Rooker in exchange for a couple of quality prospects.

Braves get: OF/DH Brent Rooker

A’s get: RHP Cade Kuehler, OF Luis Guanipa, INF E.J. Exposito

Brent Rooker, who was an All-Star in 2023, is having another monster season in Oakland, hitting 15 home runs in 71 games and posting an OPS of.841. So far this season, his OPS+ is 143, which is 43% higher than the league average.

 

Brent Rooker is (almost) the Best Hitter in Baseball - Sports Illustrated  Oakland Athletics News, Analysis and More

 

Rooker is also under an incredibly team-friendly contract that runs until the 2027 season. He might help the Braves address their outfield difficulties this year and in the future, until Ronald Acuña Jr. is totally healed and ready to play.

There are questions regarding Rooker’s defense. He’s definitely best suited as a designated hitter, but the Braves should be ready to overlook some of his shortcomings in exchange for the significant advantages he provides with the bat compared to their present choices. Rooker might possibly be promoted to a more permanent designated hitter role once the Braves move on from Marcell Ozuna, which is expected at the end of the 2025 season.

This is a significant return for a player that is best suited as a DH. Cade Kuehler was picked in the second round last year and has been excellent this season for the low-A Augusta Green Jackets, with a 2.52 ERA in 11 starts. Luis Guanipa is a young, but talented outfielder with a lot of projectability, and E.J. Exposito is having a breakout season at High-A Rome.

If Alex Anthopoulos decides to make this transaction, I would not be opposed to it. All three could become valuable major leaguers one day, but Rooker can help this team win a World Series this year and in the coming seasons, filling the Braves’ most crucial deficit. Perhaps it is a tiny overpayment for his services, but this is something that the Braves should surely consider.

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