Posted on July 31, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Atlanta Braves may be one of the biggest winners of MLB Trade Deadline Day. Prior to Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline, the Braves traded for not one, but two proven closers. First, Atlanta swung a trade for Detroit Tigers closer Shane Greene, one of the top relievers on the trade market. The Braves then doubled down by acquiring longtime Mark Melancon from the San Francisco Giants. Both moves come one day after the Braves added reliever Chris Martin in a trade with the Braves.
To pull off the Greene trade, Atlanta sent the Tigers lefty Joey Wentz, the team’s no. 7 prospect, according to MLB.com, and minor leaguer Travis Demeritte. For Melancon, the Braves traded away Dan Winkler, a major league veteran who was optioned to triple-A last month, and Tristan Beck, the team’s no. 17 prospect. The Braves are also assuming all of the money left on Melancon’s contract, including the $14 million he’ll make next season.
Greene is the top acquisition for the Braves. The 30-year-old is in the midst of an outstanding season, saving 22 games in 25 chances and posting a 1.18 ERA for the Tigers. He is likely to step in right away as Atlanta’s closer. Greene is also under contract for next season, so he’s not just a rental player.
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The Braves have struggled to find a consistent closer this year after losing Arodys Vizcaino to injury in early April. A.J. Minter failed miserably in the role and Luke Jackson has only been moderately better, pitching to a 3.96 ERA and blowing seven saves this season. Jackson, who blew a save chance on Wednesday just before the trade deadline, should function better in a setup role with Greene taking over as the closer.
Melancon is also a nice pickup for an Atlanta bullpen that has had its fair share of issues this year. He’s never been able to match his incredible 2016 campaign when he posted a 1.64 ERA, a performance that got him a four-year contract from the Giants. But Melancon has settled into a setup role, going 4-2 with a 3.50 ERA this year in San Francisco. He’s been particularly impressive lately, allowing one run over 9.2 innings since the all-star break.
In less than 24 hours, the Braves have completely remade their bullpen. Greene will now anchor the group as the closer. Melancon and Martin will join Jackson as Atlanta’s primary setup men, forming a solid bridge between the starter and Greene. Rookie Jacob Webb has also been a revelation this season, posting a 1.36 ERA in 36 appearances. The Braves also have a couple of reliable lefties in Sean Newcomb and Jerry Blevins. Josh Tomlin and Anthony Swarzak have also been solid for Atlanta this season.
Even before they added three late-game relievers, the Braves were top-5 in the National League in bullpen ERA. With Greene, Melancon, and Martin coming aboard, they have perhaps the deepest bullpen in the National League. More importantly, they solidified the closer’s spot by acquiring Greene. That alone is huge for the Braves moving forward.
Atlanta will begin the month of August with a 6.5-game lead atop the NL East standings. They looked likely to hold that lead a couple of days ago and they look even better now. Not only does Atlanta have the kind of bullpen that will help them solidify their second consecutive division title, but the Braves now have the kind of bullpen that can make them a serious World Series contender.