The building back-up of the Braves has taken some time and more than a few trades to get to where we are today. Here is a look at some of the moves that have helped shape the current roster, beginning with the longest tenure Brave George Lunn.
George Lunn joined the team in July of 2017 as the Braves made a push for the post season and attempted to bolster a lackluster offense. Lunn was actually the side piece in the deal that featured headliners Zack Grienke going to the Giants, and Pablo Sandoval leaving the Bay Area to play in Atlanta. Sandoval would hit .269 down the stretch in Atlanta (well below the .347 he was hitting in SF prior to being dealt), before having a splendid, if injured shortened 2018 season. in 2019, he would be dealt to the Mariners. Lunn for his part would actually play in 126 games between 2018 and 2019 for the Braves, compiling a negative -1.2 WAR over that time period. Lunn has settled into his role as a bench OF bat and gotten his ledger back to even, as he has posted positive 1.2 WAR over 2020 and 2021 to date.
Marvin Grunn was acquired on 12/30/2018 from the Colorado Rockies along with George Springer, Ramon Lebron, Riley Ferguson and Matthew Campbell in exchange for Hideki Abe and Dennis Moore. Grunn is the only player from that list that remains with the organization to date. Making his debut in 2019, Grunn would post a 3.0 WAR season across 107 games as a rookie. In 2020 Grunn would struggle to a 0.6 WAR season across 143 games. And in 2021, through 97 GS, Grunn has posted a 3.4 WAR line while doubling his previous HR high of 7 (14 so far on the year). Grunn has become a staple of this lineup, and while Abe has been spectacular in Colorado, the prospects acquired led to many more trades in Atlanta, and headlined the acquisition of players like Brady Aiken, Alec Bohm (later dealt) and Will Holland (later dealt).
Taylor Sparks was acquired in 2020 on Deadline day from the Oakland A’s along with Tracy Mass in exchange for James Tate, Byron Buxton and James Serrano. In his first full season as a Brave, Sparks is having a career year, posting highs in OPS+, OBP, HR, and RBI already, having only played 113 games. Tracy Mass has been a reliable starter for the organization as well, though his performance this year has dipped from his short stint in 2020.
Bo Bichette was acquired on 12/20/2019 when the Braves sent Chad Scott to Minnesotta in exchange for Bichetter, CJ Abrams (our current top prospect) and JR Justice. Bichette was called up earlier this year following an injury to Brendan Rodgers (since dealt) and has responded by posting a .277/.344/.521 slash line to go with 20 HR and 10 SB through 89 GS. Not bad.
Doug Smith was acquired 10/31/2020 when Atlanta sent Trevor Story to Oakland for Smith, Nonnie Williams and Joshua Lowe (since traded). Also in his rookie year, Smith has posted a .253/.342/.524 slash line with 21HR through 73 games in his rookie season.
Millard Thomas was acquired on 5/14/2020 from the Mets when the Braves sent Greg Bird (who at the time was our longest tenured Brave) in exchange for Millard Thomas, Jacob Heatherly and Bill Johnson. Thomas stormed onto the scene in 2020 hitting .351 over 21 games at the end of the season. 2021 has been a return to normalcy, as he has slashed .235/.334/.437 with 18 HR and 14 SB thus far. On top of his 20/20 potential though, the Braves are appreciating his positional flexibility as Thomas has played 4 different positions this season already.
Jamie Vega was acquired when Atlanta sent Armando Cabannas to Seattle along with Mark Appek for a package of 14 players. Of those 14, Vega is the only prospect to reach the majors for the Braves, though Fernando Leguizamo, Royce Lewis, Jared Stevens and John Butler all play in the majors across a few teams, as do Kyle Cody and Nick Williams.