The Braves are ahead of schedule, currently leading the NL East, and now that they are here, they need a way to stay on top.
Everybody knew the Braves had an outstanding farm system. Nobody knew it would manifest itself this quickly. They’ve been helped out by a poor start from the Nationals in their way to the top of the NL East, So, they need a way to capitalize on the position they find themselves in.
Luckily for them, they are flush with financial flexibility. The only player they have more than $12 million committed to is Freddie Freeman as everybody is on cheap deals. This is good for the 21st biggest payroll in the majors this year. It is important to note that they also only have a projected $85.6 million on the books for next year, so they can take on players for more than this year. The Braves should be ready to dig into their farm system to make themselves a contender.
5. Manny Machado
The most unlikely deal on this list, but also the most impactful. There are so many reasons not to make this deal happen. The high price the Braves would have to pay, mortgaging their future for this year, then making an all out effort to resign Machado to an expensive contract. The fact that the Braves have Dansby Swanson at shortstop so Machado would have to move back to third base.
That being said, Machado would fit this team perfectly. With a weakness at third base, so weak they even tried Jose Bautista there, they could use someone to play it well. Machado provides a Gold Glove third base and one of the best bats in all of baseball. He’s hitting for an OPS north of 1.000 and is top-3 in baseball in batting average, home runs, and RBIs. His .432 wOBA is something that the Braves could really use.
So, what large package would the Braves have to pony up to get him? It would probably take at least Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright, and Luiz Gohara, the Braves top 3 pitching prospects, along with Johan Camargo if not Dansby Swanson. The expensive trade would reshape the NL East this season, putting a lot more pressure on the Nationals to do something, but would require the Braves to give up a large portion of their future.