In a Postseason full of upsets, the Atlanta Braves going home in the NLDS for a second straight season against the same team was the biggest shocker of all. Atlanta was historically great in the regular season but never got things going in the postseason.
The Braves should be good for many years to come with virtually their entire core under contract long-term, but GM Alex Anthopoulos could feel some added pressure to make this Braves team even more formidable as they push for a World Series title in 2024.
For the Braves to be even better, they can look to the trade market to add another star to their team. While a lot of their prospects have been moved in recent years to acquire players like Matt Olson and Sean Murphy, Atlanta still has other intriguing pieces they can dangle if they want to add another impact piece.
1) Braves can flip AJ Smith-Shawver for another star
AJ Smith-Shawver is a player who shot through the minor leagues this season, starting in A+ ball and finishing the year in the majors. Smith-Shawver made just six appearances in the regular season for the Braves, but pitched well enough to be in serious consideration to start a playoff game against the Phillies. Atlanta went with Bryce Elder, but the fact that he was even in the conversation was astonishing and speaks volumes to how highly the Braves think of him.
Smith-Shawver is Atlanta's top prospect and is ranked 53rd on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list. The fact that he's just 20 years old and is already in the majors makes him such an intriguing trade piece to center any blockbuster around.
If the Braves hold onto Smith-Shawver he'll presumably battle for one of their final rotation spots, but they can trade him in a deal for a frontline starter if they choose. Acquiring a frontline starter with more than a year of control would give them much-needed Max Fried insurance as the Braves' ace hits free agency after the 2024 season.
It's never fun to give someone up with the potential Smith-Shawver has, but when you can land a star that can help the Braves win, you make the deal.