The 23-year-old was in tears as he was carted off the field, and it was a horrible sight for baseball fans.
Prior to the injury, Acuna was working on arguably the best season of his career so far.
Having just been named to his second-career All-Star team, the youngster was batting .283 with a .990 OPS, an OPS+ of 156, 24 home runs, and a 3.6 WAR over 82 games.
After hitting pause, visiting with family & close advisors, Braves star Ronald Acuna has decided not to attend the MLB All-Star Game. While he wanted to go & represent the fans who voted him in, rest is ultimately what he needs before surgery to repair the ACL in his right knee. pic.twitter.com/wa8HRH7GJh
— Zach Klein (@ZachKleinWSB) July 12, 2021
The Braves are currently 44-45 on the season.
Generally, a team in that sort of position would have very little hope for the postseason, but with the National League East being historically weak this year, Atlanta is just four games out of first place.
That’s part of what makes the loss of Acuna so frustrating.
Fans were hoping that the Braves would make a run in the second half of the season to challenge the New York Mets for the division crown.
But without Acuna, it’s going to be an uphill climb.
In fact, the task might be too tall.
The Braves might want to consider cutting their losses on the 2021 season, and doing so might mean selling at the upcoming trade deadline.
Today, we’re going to explore two trades that the Braves should make in the aftermath of the Acuna injury.
Both deals involve unloading talent as opposed to adding.
2. Trade Ehire Adrianza While His Value Is High
In the past, Ehire Adrianza has been a very poor MLB hitter, but is enjoying a very solid 2021 campaign.
Entering this season, Adrianza was a career .244 hitter with a .670 OPS and an OPS+ of 83.
In 2021, however, he is slashing .264/.348/.446 with an OPS+ of 107.
Any team in the league would gladly take a guy reaching base at a .348 clip.
Adrianza is capable of playing virtually any infield or outfield position, so that should help boost his trade value.
He’s a free agent at the end of the season.
It shouldn’t be hard to find a suitor for the 31-year-old.
1. Ship Off Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly In A Package Deal
Charlie Morton is a perfect candidate for a deadline trade.
He signed a one-year deal with the Braves prior to the 2021 season, and it has panned out nicely for both sides.
The 37-year-old is having one of the better seasons of his career, pitching to a 3.64 ERA, 3.41 FIP, and 1.10 WHIP.
He has fanned 114 batters over 99.0 innings and has allowed just nine home runs on the year.
The Braves are Morton’s fifth team in seven seasons, so he is getting used to frequent changes of scenery.
It seems extremely likely that he will find himself pitching for a contending club by the end of the month.
Drew Smyly, too, is playing on a one-year deal.
He hasn’t enjoyed quite as much success as Morton has, but he has been serviceable.
Smyly has a 4.48 ERA and a 100 ERA+ over 15 starts this season.
In other words, he has been exactly average.
Average is perfectly fine for a back-of-the-rotation arm, and there are several contending teams with a need for that.
Packaging Morton and Smyly in a deal could make for a nice return.
Trade Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly for a few solid prospects and regroup for next year.
— Colin Hubbard (@ColinHubbard22) July 11, 2021
In addition to the trade candidates we just talked about, lifelong Brave Freddie Freeman is a free agent at the end of the 2021 season.
It’s not impossible to think that he could also be on the move, but all signs point to the Braves wanting to keep Freeman around beyond this season, and trading him away could put a massive dent in the two sides’ relationship.
Instead, Atlanta should stick to trading away players who don’t seem like long-term fits in Atlanta.
Adrianza, Morton, and Smyly should headline the group of players on the move.