Braves motivation for latest trade reminds us how savvy ATL front office is

Taylor Hearn, Atlanta Braves (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Taylor Hearn, Atlanta Braves (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Braves’ front office continues to make savvy moves to round out their star-studded roster. 

The Atlanta Braves acquired left-handed pitcher Taylor Hearn from the Texas Rangers on Monday, per MLB insider Mark Bowman. The move further bolsters the Braves’ bullpen for the stretch run, but it also serves as another reminder of Alex Anthopoulos’ savvy mind in the front office.

The Braves have been a paragon of roster-building since Anthopoulos’ arrival. He has been unafraid to make uncomfortable moves, like spurning Freddie Freeman in favor of Matt Olson. He has also expertly balanced the Braves’ farm system with a star-studded roster in the majors.

One of the few areas of weakness for the Braves this season, however, has been the lack of (literal) optionality in the bullpen. Atlanta has been saddled with pitchers who aren’t able to be optioned down to the minor leagues, in turn limiting the Braves’ flexibility.

Now, Anthopoulos is addressing that very issue with Hearn — while also adding a useful arm to the mix.

Atlanta Braves make smart trade for LHP Taylor Hearn from Texas Rangers

Hearn addresses multiple front-and-center issues for Atlanta: he’s a lefty and he’s durable on the mound, capable of handling long shifts in relief or even starting games in a pinch. He also has options left on his contract, meaning the Braves can send him down to triple-A Gwinnett if desired.

Hearn is expected to get legitimate run with the Braves, who don’t have many lefties in the pen. He has only pitched seven innings across four appearances for Texas this season, but he pitched 100 innings in 2022 and 104.1 in 2021.

The Rangers used Hearn as both a starter and a reliever during his five years with the team, but as Darragh McDonald of MLB Trade Rumors notes, his ERA as a reliever (3.94) is far better than his ERA as a starter (6.36). At 28 years old, Hearn is in the last option year of his career. The Braves can keep him through arbitration next season but he will no longer be option eligible.

The Braves haven’t been lacking for success in the bullpen, but Hearn is another source of depth as the postseason looms on the horizon. Hearn is fighting for his MLB future at this point; Texas’ offseason moves bumped him out of the rotation there and an option to the minors with Atlanta could stunt future contract negotiations.

On the flip side, if Hearn can carve out a consistent niche with Atlanta’s top-ranked pitching staff, it would significantly improve his future standing. The Braves are the overwhelming favorites to win the National League, currently sitting in first place with an 11.5-game lead over second-place Philadelphia in their division. If Hearn puts his stamp on the MLB’s preeminent contender, it would mark a real turning point in his career. Sometimes all it takes for a player to break out is a change of scenery.

The Braves also acquired righty Pierce Johnson from the Rockies. It’s clear the bullpen is an area of concern for Anthopoulos and the front office. With the Aug. 1 trade deadline now one week away, odds are the Braves aren’t finished maneuvering.

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