The Braves have a relatively strong hold on the National League East as they have pushed their lead back up to 5 1/2 games over the Nationals and 6 1/2 games over the Phillies. Much like their trailers in the East, the Braves are exploring reinforcements for a bullpen that has let the club down at times.
Much like other contenders, the Braves have looked into acquiring lefty Jake Diekman from the Royals, per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter). Diekman remains one of the most likely players to move before Wednesday’s deadline, but the Royals are apparently in no rush to make a decision. Bowman names Ian Kennedy as another name that makes sense for the Braves, though the Royals are less interested in paying down the money owed Kennedy, making him a less likely target.
Though the same targets seem to make their way around the rumor mill from team-to-team, the Braves have not yet been tied to oft-rumored Tigers Shane Greene, Nicholas Castellanos or Matthew Boyd. A more likely trading partner for Atlanta is the Rangers, who can offer Mike Minor for the rotation or right-hander Jose Leclerc out of the pen.
Both Rangers come with future years of control, with Leclerc in particular being an interesting target as the 25-year-old recently signed an extension that has him under contract for five years after this season (through 2024). After recording 12 saves with a 1.56 ERA 59 games last season, Leclerc struggled out of the gate this year, ultimately losing his closer’s role and even taking a few turns as an Opener. That said, he turned things around since the slow start, currently holding a 4.02 ERA (3.31 FIP) in 47 games, making him worth 1.0 WAR by measure of both Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs.
It would be at least understandable if the Rangers were looking for a mulligan on the Leclerc extension, but that’s not to say they’re looking to sell low on their power righty. The Braves plethora of pitching in the upper levels of the minors give them the bullets they need to acquire whomever they need, should they decide to pull the trigger.