The Braves are contacting rivals in search of outfield help, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The Atlanta organization is evidently looking to address the newfound uncertainty surrounding the status of right fielder Nick Markakis.
It didn’t seem as if the Braves would be involved in this segment of the market, but a fractured wrist now threatens to put Markakis out of action until late in the season. Even if they’d prefer to wait and see how he heals up, the club is no doubt concerned with bypassing an opportunity to fill the gap at the deadline.
There is certainly an internal route to filling the job, depending upon what one thinks of Adam Duvall. He had spent the entire season on optional assignment until recently, earning a $2,875,000 salary to serve as depth and for his potential future value. Obviously the club believes in his talent to some degree to have handled him in this manner, though it also hadn’t seen fit to call him up until forced by the Markakis injury.
Duvall makes for a natural platoon partner with Ender Inciarte, who was seemingly displaced by Austin Riley as a regular but now seems to be a key figure. (This is a key reason I argued the team ought not rush into trading him.) Matt Joyce also remains an option from the left side, giving the club some options to work with. But with Riley struggling at the plate and Johan Camargo needed to fill in at short in place of the injured Dansby Swanson, we’re seeing the first stresses on what has been a sturdy position-player mix all year long in Atlanta.
Under the circumstances, it’s sensible to consider outside alternatives — particularly if someone can be had for an appealing enough price. The Braves are surely still focused on adding pitching, but there’s an argument to be made that they ought now put nearly as much emphasis on installing a bat. While the need arose due to an unfortunate injury, it does create an opportunity to add a slugger to an already potent lineup.