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Athletics expressing interest in Ronald Acuna in Sonny Gray trade talks, per report

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Oakland is on the lookout for young centerfield prospects and the Braves’ Ronald Acuna is on their target list

MLB: Spring Training-Atlanta Braves at New York Yankees Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, it is hardly a secret that the Braves are courting the Oakland Athletics in order to acquire Sonny Gray from them. Gray, in many ways, fits what the Braves’ front office has said for some time: that they will look to acquire talent that is under team control and are not interested in rental-types for the foreseeable future. He is under team control for the next two seasons at a very low cost financially.

That said, Gray has also had an iffy track range from being one of the better pitchers in the league to having injury issues that are at the very least spooky for teams...especially if the prospect cost is high. In 2017, Gray has posted a 3.66 ERA, 3.38 FIP, and 1.9 fWAR which has helped his value on the trade market. Gray has been on the trading block for a while now and it is becoming clear what the A’s are looking for in terms of a return for Gray.

What does that mean for the Braves? Well, it seems pretty clear that the Braves are not going to part with Ender Inciarte any time soon and his name hasn’t been publicly acknowledged as a target. However, there ARE reports that the A’s have interest in the Braves’ top prospect who happens to also play centerfield.

First things first, there is no indication that the Braves are open to trading Ronald Acuna and in fact if the rumors surrounding their pursuit of Jose Quintana earlier are true, they not be willing to move him at all. Also, Acuna along with other top Braves prospects such as Ozzie Albies, Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, etc. are basically going to be the first guys that teams ask for in a trade. It is not surprising that the A’s are going to ask for a big package of prospects even if it is the equivalent of asking for a unicorn that can DH and be a middle reliever.

The biggest takeaway here is that the Braves’ interest in Gray has gotten to the point that the teams are exchanging names to see if there is a fit. There are a lot of other teams interested in Gray’s services including the Nationals, Brewers, and Yankees, but the Braves just cleared a bit of payroll in the Jaime Garcia trade and are definitely on the hunt for controllable, young starting pitching. Stay tuned folks...this could get interesting.