The Atlanta Braves have made a slew of trades this offseason, headlined by two in particular which netted them Jarred Kelenic from the Mariners and Chris Sale from the Red Sox. Atlanta won 107 games last season and it can be argued that their roster is even better with the moves they've made this offseason.
While they're one of, if not the clear favorites to win the World Series in 2024, the Braves still have more moves they should have made via trade that they did not.
These three players should've been traded to make the Braves' roster just that much scarier, but weren't. At least not yet. Alex Anthopoulos making a shocking move shouldn't surprise anyone at this point.
3. Bryce Elder should have been traded by the Braves for an upgrade
Everyone knew that after their disappointing exit last season, the Braves were going to add a starting pitcher. It was assumed Anthopoulos would get that done in free agency with an arm like Aaron Nola or Sonny Gray, but instead, he made a surprising trade for a starter we didn't even know was available, Chris Sale.
When healthy, the upside with Sale is still tremendous. He might've had a 4.30 ERA this past season with Boston, but he had a 3.80 FIP and a 3.71 xERA. Those figures, combined with the fact that he ranked in the 92nd percentile in chase rate and in the 88th percentile in K% according to Baseball Savant suggest that he still has plenty in the tank. He's just missed substantial time every season in the last half-decade due to injury.
Sale's durability being as questionable as it is, combined with Charlie Morton's age makes Bryce Elder that much more important. He was unbelievable for Atlanta in the first half of last season, even making the All-Star team, but faltered in a big way down the stretch. Elder had a 5.11 ERA in the second half and was knocked out after just 2.2 innings in his playoff start.
Acquiring a more reliable arm like Dylan Cease despite the hefty price should've been considered by Anthopoulos. Trading Elder, a 24-year-old who has flashed some potential and would come with five years of control, would've been of interest to Chicago or another team trading a controllable starter who can be more reliable than Sale.
This isn't to say that the Sale trade was bad, because it wasn't. It's just a major risk. One that could come back to bite Atlanta if he's unavailable for the postseason. Had they used Elder as a trade chip instead of Vaughn Grissom, they could've gotten a better player potentially due to Elder's success in the majors.