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Jun 19, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Atlanta Braves pitcher Juan Jaime (58) walks out to the bullpen prior to the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Jaime was called up the the major leagues today. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves should be shopping a "CLOSER"

The Atlanta Braves are amidst a 9-game winning streak…

…and life is good in Braves’ country.  The trade deadline is just around the corner and the Braves will need to make a few moves in order to stay atop the NL East.  When Gavin Floyd was healthy and Aaron Harang was pitching sub-3 ERA baseball, it was easy to visualize a trade in which the Braves filled a bullpen need or a bench need.  Now, with money tight, a farm low on prospects, Floyd injured, and Harang coming down to earth, the trade scenarios have shrunk considerably.  There is, however, one route in which the Braves could still travel in order to fill the needs of the club:  Trade a “Closer”.

As I wrote a few days ago, the secret to the Braves’ success has not been the offense, or even the starting pitching, but the bullpen.  Over the course of this 9 game winning streak, the bullpen has allowed only 2 runs, and 0 in the last 5 games.  That is brilliant work by a group that had seemingly struggled to string together consecutive outings without giving up runs.  There’s been ink dropped on the reasons behind the ‘pen’s resurgence, but I think it goes to the group just being rested and healthy.  With all this being said, there’s reason to believe that the Braves could really use a 2nd lefty to compliment  Luis Avilan.  While there are many that the Braves could pull off the scrap heap such as Mike Gonzalez who was just designated for assignment by the Nationals,  the Braves will probably want a lefty that has had serious success this year, but this will come at a price.  There’s also speculation that the Braves are looking for bench help and, much like the lefty, the club would probably add someone who’s already finding success.  So, what could the Braves entice a team with, since Gavin Floyd, their biggest trade chip, is lost for the year?  I have an idea…

What do  Atlanta Braves Craig Kimbrel, Jordan Walden, Shae Simmons, and Juan Jaime all have in common?

Yes…they’ve worn the stamp and have been baptized by baseball as “closers”.   A team is blessed beyond measure if there’s just one guy on the team that can regularly dominate in the 9th inning, but the Braves have 3 on the roster and one waiting in the wings at AAA. The lesser of the 4, obviously being Juan Jaime, would be a great sell-high for the Braves. Juan, in an incredibly small sample, struck out 7 batters in 4 innings of work in the Majors and the only hit he gave up was a solo HR.  He’s been equally brilliant at AAA with a 13/9 K rate, a 2.15 ERA, and 14 saves in 29.1 innings of work.   He’s our sell-high guy, the one player the Braves could lose that won’t really affect the team’s operation now, or going forward.

Whether it be packaging a “Closer” or trading one for one, the Braves could use an overvalued closer market to their advantage and bring back a much needed piece for the stretch run. So, take a gander at Fred’s piece from yesterday. Who do you think the Braves could match up with to make this thing happen?

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Tags: Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Juan Jaime Shae Simmons

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