With Brian McCann and Jordan Schafer both on the disabled list and two of their current outfield hitting under .230, it is safe to say that the Braves could do with a bat. But the Braves front office has been coy this entire trade deadline, and Braves fans do not seem to be frothing at the mouth like other fanbases over the prospect of acquiring a Pence-caliber bat.
So when Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Braves are turning their attention to the Houston Astros' Hunter Pence, a player they seemed to have ruled themselves out of getting a week ago, wheels start to spin. Buster Olney follows this up and suggests a prospect that may intrigue some teams, Brett Oberholtzer.
David O'Brien meanwhile suggests that Frank Wren and the Braves have plenty of options to pursue:
A range of players from Hunter Pence, Ryan Ludwick and Michael Bourn (though left-handed) to less-expensive possibilities such as Marlon Byrd, Reed Johnson and their ilk. There are bats out there who can help the Braves, to varying degrees.
Personally I have felt throughout July that Bourn makes more sense for the Braves in the long-term. If the Mets got good stuff back from the Giants it is because they are reported to have eaten $4m of the $6m left on Carlos Beltran's contract. This will not be an issue with Pence.
Considering the Braves riches in pitching prospects with Mike Minor, Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino and Julio Teheran, it is not inconceivable that Wade could pry one of them from Atlanta's graps, considering what they have in the majors already. All four are supposedly off limits in any deal, but Vizcaino and Teheran certainly are. I have question marks over Delgado, so Minor might be the best bet.
If Wade can grab Minor and another two pieces from further down the Braves' deep minor league system then we might have a deal. Or maybe another team like Philadelphia charges in like a bull at the last minute. For all we know Atlanta might decide not to make a move, or go for something more attainable, like Josh Willingham, although I think it will take more than some fans assume to make Billy Beane budge in this market.
Four days to go.