By PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves have added another starting pitcher, bolstered their bullpen and bulked up the outfield before Tuesday’s trade deadline in an effort to repeat the deals that helped lead them to a World Series title in 2021.
After acquiring corner outfielder Robbie Grossman from the Detroit Tigers late Monday night, general manager Alex Anthopoulos began the day by finalizing a deal that brought right fielder Jake Odorizzi from the Houston Astros in exchange for former Atlanta closer Will Smith.
Then, barely beating the clock before the 6pm EST deadline, the Braves landed Los Angeles Angels closer Raisel Iglesias for Jesse Chavez and prospect Tucker Davidson.
The flurry of trades, which included Monday’s low-profile deal that brought Washington forward Ehire Adrianza back to Atlanta to help fill the position while Ozzie Albies recovers from a broken leg, was reminiscent of the moves Anthopoulos made at the 2021 deadline.
The Braves can only hope they lead to the same result.
A year ago, when the field was plagued by injuries, off-field issues and failed expectations, Anthopoulos was able to assemble a completely new unit with deadline trades for Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario and Adam Duvall, combined with the acquisition of Joco two weeks ago. Pederson.
All four played major roles in the Braves winning their first World Series title since 1995. Rosario was the NL Championship Series MVP, while Soler earned the honor in the World Series victory over the Astros.
The deal for Odorizzi cost the Braves another big piece of their championship team.
Smith had 37 saves for the Braves during the 2021 regular season and a dominant postseason, throwing 11 scoreless innings with six saves in 11 games.
But Smith voluntarily gave up the position in the ninth inning when the Braves signed longtime Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the offseason, and the lefty faltered in a minor role.
In 41 appearances, Smith was 0-1 with a 4.38 ERA and five saves while giving up 35 hits — including seven homers — and 21 walks over 37 innings for a 1.514 WHIP.
In his last four appearances with the Braves, Smith has given up six runs in three innings. He is making $13 million in what is likely the final year of his contract, which includes a $13 million club option for 2023 with a $1 million buyout.
Despite his struggles, it was hard for manager Brian Snitker and other players to see Smith go.
“He was a big part of this team,” Snitker said. “When you go through what we went through last year, all together, and come out on top, there’s a bond. There’s room in your heart for guys like that.’
Atlanta, with the third-best record in the NL and trailing the East-leading New York Mets by 3 1/2 games entering Tuesday, was willing to give up Smith to provide another rotation option.
Ian Anderson is struggling and former All-Star Mike Soroka is unlikely to contribute much this season after two major Achilles injuries. There are also concerns that 13-game winner Kyle Wright, in his first full big league season, and rookie sensation Spencer Strider could tire.
Smith was replaceable with three more effective lefties — AJ Minter, Tyler Matzek and Dylan Lee — in a bullpen that could get another boost from former Padres closer Kirby Yates, who is nearing a big-league return from Tommy John surgery.
The Braves appeared to have a deal already, but Anthopoulos was traded at the last minute for another reliever with extensive experience.
Iglesias, 32, held that role for four seasons in Cincinnati before being traded to the Angels in 2021. The right-hander tied his career high with 34 saves and added 16 more this season despite some struggles. He has a 4.04 ERA, a 1.065 WHIP and 48 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings.
“It came late, with about two minutes left,” Anthopoulos said. “We were afraid it wouldn’t work.”
The Braves made the deal with a team mired in a dismal season, even if it meant picking up most of the $58 million, four-year contract Iglesias signed before the season. He should make $16 million in each of the next three seasons.
“It surprised me,” Iglesias said of the trade. “I wish we were in a better place right now. Hopefully I can help the Braves win. I’m going to prepare. It’s going to be great to be with this team and compete.”
Chávez, 38, pitched effectively for the Braves after being acquired from the Cubs in April, going 1-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 31 games. He now moves to his third team of the season, paired in a contract with a 26-year-old lefty whose biggest claim to fame was a surprise start in last year’s World Series.
Davidson lasted just two innings against the Astros and spent most of this season in Triple-A. He was 1-2 with a 6.46 ERA in four appearances with the Braves.
Odorizzi, 32, was an All-Star with Minnesota in 2019, posting a career-best 15 wins. He went 4-3 with a 3.75 ERA in 12 starts for the Astros this season while missing significant time with a lower left leg injury.
In his last outing, Odorizzi gave up two hits in seven scoreless innings against Seattle.
The Braves could use six starters on an upcoming three-city road trip that includes a pair of doubleheaders. After that, Odorizzi can become the starter to give everyone another rest before the postseason, or step into the regular spot if someone falters.
Anderson, 24, is 9-6 with a 4.99 ERA, though he boosted his chances of staying in the rotation by giving up just one hit over six scoreless innings in his last start against the Nationals.
Odorizzi has a $6.5 million player option for 2023 and a $3.25 million minimum buyout that could grow based on changes in 2021-22.
Grossman, a switch hitter who has been much more effective against lefties, gives the Braves an outfield that can platoon with the lefty-hitting Rosario and serve as a replacement for Duvall, who recently underwent season-ending wrist surgery.
“What a team they have here and I’m fortunate to be a part of it,” Grossman said before the game against the Phillies. “I’m going to come in here and be myself and do whatever it takes to help this team win.”
AP Sports Writer George Henry contributed to this report.
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