However, the asking prices for Shields and Johnson may be too high for the Braves, Dempster has already vetoed a trade to the Braves and Davis hasn't started a game since Sept. 25, 2011. The Braves have to get creative if they want to acquire a pitcher before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Here are two scenarios that the Braves might pursue as they approach deadline day:
Chicago Cubs trade pitcher Ryan Dempster and outfielder Reed Johnson to the Atlanta Braves for pitchers Zeke Spruill and Navery Moore and catcher/oufielder Evan Gattis.
Braves general manager Frank Wren has certainly made it clear that Dempster is his main trade deadline target. Along with Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, Wren already completed a deal that would have sent pitcher Randall Delgado to the Cubs, but Dempster vetoed it using his 10-and-five rights citing that he would rather play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Epstein and Hoyer have since tried to work out a deal with Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, but the Dodgers seem more interested in trading for teammate Matt Garza. While it's easy to question Dempster's desire to play for the Braves after he vetoed the trade, he has said from the beginning that he wants to play in Atlanta.
If a deal does get done, it likely won't be identical to the one that two teams agreed on last week as Wren would rather not include Delgado in a trade for a two-month rental. Also looking for a bench bat, Wren might be able to get the Cubs to include the right-handed hitting Johnson, who can play all three outfield positions. While his defense is below-average (-6.8 UZR/150), entering Sunday he has an .809 OPS in 166 at-bats. The acquisition of Johnson would be able to offset the injury of Matt Diaz, as the two have similar production.
Instead of Delgado, the Braves could include Gattis, Spruill and Moore. Gattis, 25, is enjoying a monster season in the minors, hitting .349 with 13 home runs and 44 RBI in 41 games split across three levels. Due to his age, the Braves might be inclined to sell high on the catcher-turned-outfielder. Spruill, 22, does not get as much publicity as Julio Teheran, Delgado, Mike Minor and Arodys Vizcaino, but is ranked as the seventh-best prospect in the Braves' system by MLB.com. He is 7-10 with a 3.88 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 21 starts at Double-A Mississippi. Moore, 21, is 6-3 with a 4.20 ERA in 19 games (11 starts) for the Class-A Rome Braves. He is ranked by MLB.com as the Braves' 16th-best prospect.
New York Mets trade outfielder Scott Hairston to the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
With the Mets fading out of the playoff picture, it seems very likely that they will deal Hairston. Entering Sunday, the 32-year-old has posted a .258/.299/.511 slash line in 221 at-bats. He would be a perfect complement to Eric Hinkse, as Hairston bats right-handed and has posted a .308/.341/.617 slash line against left-handed pitchers. The Mets likely won't demand much more than a mid-level prospect for Hairston, as he is eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.
Chicago White Sox trade pitcher Gavin Floyd to the Atlanta Braves for pitcher Jair Jurrjens and shortstop Tyler Pastornicky.
Both Jurrjens and Floyd have very little trade value, as the two have struggled this season. Just like the Jeff Francouer-for-Ryan Church swap in 2009, this would be a perfect change-of-scenery trade. Jurrjens has struggled one year after earning an All-Star selection, as he was recently moved to the bullpen in favor of Kris Medlen. However, Jurrjens is still only 26 and has one arbitration-eligible season remaining. Floyd, on the other hand, is 29 and has labored through and injury-plagued season. The White Sox have been trying to move Floyd for a while, and made that even more clear after acquiring Francisco Liriano from the Minnesota Twins. Floyd has a team option of $9.5 million for next season, but can be non-tendered after the season.
In Pastornicky, the White Sox would get the utility infielder that they need after trading Eduardo Escobar to the Twins in the Liriano deal. While he hasn't completely fallen out of favor in Atlanta, Andrelton Simmons seems like the better option at shortstop for the Braves moving forward. While Floyd isn't the top-of-the-rotation starter that the Braves are seeking, he would provide another quality starting pitcher for the Braves down the stretch. He might also be a better option than Medlen, who hasn't started since Aug. 4, 2010.
While it is impossible to know the outcome of the always-unpredictable trade deadline, it's fun to try and speculate what Frank Wren and his staff will do as the deadline approaches. And with the Braves just four games back of the Washington Nationals entering Sunday, here's to hoping the Braves receive reinforcements heading into the final two months of the season.