Inside the Clubhouse: MLB trade deadline insights, Dodgers notes, Braves and more

MLB Insider Robert Murray on the trade deadline, Los Angeles Dodgers notes, and around the league with the Braves and Jose Abreu.
Los Angeles Dodgers v Toronto Blue Jays
Los Angeles Dodgers v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

The start to the 2024 season has revealed some early truths. 

The Chicago White Sox and Miami Marlins have been two of the most disappointing teams and appear primed for trade deadline selloffs. The Los Angeles Dodgers, after some early questions, are coming off a 7-2 road trip and look every bit as dominant as expected after signing Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, among others.

Here are some reactions from the first month of the season, including some early trade deadline thoughts.

Mookie Betts
Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks / Norm Hall/GettyImages

Ballpark notes: Los Angeles Dodgers

After starting Mookie Betts at shortstop for a second consecutive game, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said that Betts will “take all the repetitions at short.”

“Right now, where [Betts] is at, I certainly think he’s playing an above average shortstop,” Roberts said. “I think the metrics will agree with that. I’d grade him out a solid B+. It’s hard to imagine me even saying that right now, given that he started not playing the position. So it’s really, really impressive and only going to get better.”

Added Roberts: “I’m trying to wrap my head around any comparable, as far as on the hitting side, the [defensive] side. I haven’t seen it. You’re talking about a complete position change. To play it at a high level at that position, I just haven’t seen it.”

One additional note on the Dodgers: one of the earliest concerns in the first couple weeks of the season was the lackluster performance of the bottom of the lineup. After calling up top prospect Andy Pages, along with the strong play of infielder Miguel Rojas, the bottom of the order now appears to have been fortified.

“Andy is a big part of that,” Roberts said. “Once he got called up, the bottom part of the order became more solidified and more productive. I like to think we look at these 9, 10 games and the production that the bottom half has given us and that narrative should be silenced a little bit.”

Tommy Pham
Minnesota Twins v Chicago White Sox / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

Insider thoughts: Early trade deadline chatter

Chicago White Sox:

Among the most obvious trade candidates for the struggling Chicago White Sox include pitcher Mike Clevinger and outfielder Tommy Pham, who both signed one-year contracts after Opening Day. Martin Maldonado figures to be an option for teams needing veteran catching help. One potentially intriguing trade option that teams figure to check in on is Erick Fedde, who signed a two-year, $15 million contract this offseason, and has posted a 2.60 ERA in six starts.

Miami Marlins:

The word throughout the offseason was that the Marlins were willing to listen to inquiries on most of the roster, with a handful of players being exceptions. The obvious trade candidates now include infielder Luis Arraez, Jazz Chisholm and Josh Bell, among others. Both pitchers Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk will surely be asked about in trade conversations if they prove healthy once they come off the Injured List.

Los Angeles Angels

Among the Angels players who drew trade interest this winter include infielder Luis Rengifo, outfielders Taylor Ward and Mickey Moniak, as well as reliever Jose Suarez and catcher Matt Thaiss. Relievers Matt Moore, Luis Garcia and Adam Cimber, all signed to one-year contracts this offseason, figure to emerge as potential trade candidates as well.

Jose Abreu
2024 Mexico City Series - Houston Astros v Colorado Rockies / Hector Vivas/GettyImages

​​Around the league: Jose Abreu demoted

The Houston Astros’ decision to option Jose Abreu to West Palm Beach was shocking, but how he has handled the demotion has privately been lauded by people around baseball.

In the hours after being optioned, Abreu told ESPN in Spanish: “You know what’s been the hardest thing for me? And I say this from the bottom of my heart – I feel embarrassed. The people in this organization brought me here to do a good job. I haven’t done that. The hard thing, too, is that my teammates see that I haven’t done my job, although they’ve always supported me, always been by my side. But I won’t stay down.”

If the Astros are to bounce back from their 10-20 record, they will need Abreu to bounce back in a big way. The 37-year-old, who signed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract in November 2022, was hitting a mediocre .099/.156/.113 with a .269 OPS, zero home runs and three RBI in 22 games this season.

Max Fried
Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Hidden storyline: Atlanta Braves handle Spencer Strider injury

After losing Spencer Strider to season-ending elbow surgery, the Atlanta Braves looked like a team destined to trade for a starting pitcher.

Ever since, Braves’ pitchers have gone deep into games and the rotation has since emerged as a strength. Reynaldo Lopez, a reliever who the Braves converted to a starting pitcher, has a 1.50 ERA in five starts. Chris Sale has a 3.44 ERA while Charlie Morton has a 3.60 ERA. Bryce Elder has emerged as a stabilizing force to a rotation that came into its own during a recent homestand and now ranks ninth in baseball with a 3.57 ERA. 

With Braves executive Alex Anthopoulos, nothing can ever be ruled out. He is as aggressive as any front office leader in baseball and places a high value on pitching depth. But the last couple weeks have shown that the need for rotation help may not be as pressing as once feared following Strider’s injury.

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