Braves get righty reliever Brad Brach from Orioles
BALTIMORE (AP) — The Atlanta Braves bolstered their bullpen for a run at the NL East title, obtaining right-hander Brad Brach on Sunday in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles for $250,000 of international signing bonus allotment.
Brach is 1-2 with a 4.85 ERA and owns a 10.80 ERA in eight games this month. Left-handers are hitting .342 against him, and he has allowed runs in 11 of 42 appearances.
But Brach is only two years removed from making the AL All-Star team, has 11 saves this season and worked as Baltimore’s closer for long stretches over the last two years.
“Look, he’s not having the year he’s had in the past. But we think there is some upside there based on what he’s done in the past,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopolous said. “He’s had some bad luck. There could be some things with his mix —some tweaks we could make to get him back to the high level he’s performed at in the past.”
Brach’s departure follows the trades of slugging infielder Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers and of closer Zach Britton to the New York Yankees.
Brach has a $5,165,000 salary and is eligible for free agency after the World Series. The trade saves the Orioles just under $1.75 million, and with the last-place Orioles at 32-74 and in rebuilding mode, it was a deal that was easy to make for vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette.
“It’s the first trade that we’ve made with an international roster slot coming back to the Orioles,” Duquette said. “We’ll put it to good use signing some young ballplayers that will help us get back to a competitive team.”
The deal is a sign that the Orioles have changed their philosophy on building a winner. Baltimore traded away all but $500,000 of its allocation for 2017-18 and spent just $440,000 on international amateurs.
Seems like Brach made out on the deal, too.
“He gets to go to a team that is pursuing a pennant race with young players, so he is a good veteran presence,” Duquette said.
As he packed his bags, Brach was hard-pressed to list his most memorable moment with Baltimore.
“It’s hard to say. The stadium and the fans here are just incredible,” he said. “It’s just weird. I don’t think it’ll hit me until maybe tomorrow when I’m in the Atlanta clubhouse or something like that. But it’s just hard to believe it’s come down to this, and this is the end.”
Atlanta beat Los Angeles on Sunday to cut Philadelphia’s lead in the NL East to 1½ games. Brach may not be the arm to get the Braves over the top, but he could be a key contributor if he shakes off the inconsistency he’s displayed this season.
At least he won’t have to wonder about if and when the Orioles were going to swap him out.
“I’m glad that this waiting period is done and I know I’m going somewhere,” he said. “I know where I’m going to spend the rest of the year, which is definitely a huge burden off my mind.”
The 32-year-old Brach broke into the big leagues with San Diego in 2011 and pitched in parts of three seasons with the Padres before coming to Baltimore in a trade in November 2013.
Brach went 7-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 2014, was 10-4 in 2016 and entered this season with a 26-13 record and a 2.74 ERA with the Orioles.
He had 18 saves last year while subbing for an injured Britton, and earned most of his saves this season while Britton started on the disabled list with a torn Achilles tendon.
“It’s clear we want to make the team better,” Anthopolous said. “We’ve also been clear that we can’t force a move and do something that is really going to hurt us long term. We still have some time left. We can make other moves if we think it is helpful to do that.”
AP Sports Writer George Henry in Atlanta contributed to this report.
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