The Atlanta Braves bolstered their bullpen for a run at the National League East title, obtaining right-hander Brad Brach on Sunday in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles for $250,000 of international signing bonus allocation money.
Brach is 1-2 with a 4.85 ERA and owns a 10.80 ERA in eight games this month. He has struck out 38 and walked 19 in 39 innings, but left-handers are hitting .342 against him, and he has allowed runs in 11 of 42 appearances.
Brach is only two years removed from making the American League All-Star team, has 11 saves this season and worked as Baltimore's closer for long stretches over the past 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 Anthopoulos 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 is the latest player to be dealt by the Orioles, who have the majors' worst record at 32-74 and moved shortstop Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers and closer Zach Britton to the New York Yankees.
Brach's contract expires after this season, and with the Orioles mired in full 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. Last year, Baltimore traded away all but $500,000 of its allocation money and spent just $440,000 on international amateurs.
It seems like Brach made out on the deal too. He goes from a team 41½ games behind in the AL East to an Atlanta team that is just 1½ games out in the NL East.
"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."
Brach might 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 has displayed this season. At least he'll no longer have to wonder if and when the Orioles are going to swap him out.
"I'm glad that this waiting period is done and I know I'm going somewhere," Brach said. "I know where I'm going to spend the rest of the year, which is definitely a huge burden off my mind."
To make room for Brach on the 40-man roster, the Braves transferred right-hander Brandon McCarthy to the 60-day disabled list.
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," Anthopoulos 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."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.