There is really no doubt about it: the Atlanta Braves will acquire a hitter of some kind either on or before the July 31 trade deadline. Whether that hitter is an All Star-level player or a platoon guy off the bench, they'll make a deal. As of right now, though, they just don't know who that player will be and what role he'll have on the new team.
Ken Rosenthal gave us an update earlier today regarding our search for a hitter, and it was filled with good information. In a nutshell, the Braves are having an identity crisis with the trade deadline. To be perfectly honest, it seems even Frank Wren doesn't know what he wants to do.
As Rosenthal reports (and as we all know), the club wants to add a right-handed outfielder who can play all three outfield positions. The two big-name targets, Hunter Pence and Carlos Beltran, have a few fans in the organization, but as of right now, it doesn't sound like Atlanta will pay the steep price for either player. Names like Jonny Gomes and Ryan Ludwick have been rumored a multitude of times, but neither of them could play center field and even right field might be a stretch.
The one name that should intrigue everyone is B.J. Upton. Despite possessing more natural talent than just about everyone else in baseball, Upton has never quite been able to put it all together both on the field and in the clubhouse. He's somewhat of a head case and questions regarding his work ethic have come up more than once. Still, though, he'd be a massive upgrade in center field, is rumored to be on the trade market, and is under team control through 2012.
In addition to adding a bat, the Braves are also likely to acquire a reliever. It would make sense to add a reliever from whichever team they acquire the hitter from, but there could be a guy or two on the market who intrigues them and would not cost as much to bring to Atlanta in a separate deal.
Stay tuned. The rumors are flying wild right now, folks.