Realistically, the Braves will only be making a blockbuster move if they are buyers at the deadline. If they end up being sellers on the market, it is unlikely they part ways with a piece big enough for a deal to be considered a blockbuster. The two-game series against the Houston Astros was fairly disappointing. However, it is also worth noting that the Astros are without a doubt the best team in baseball, and feature one of the best road offenses the game has ever seen. The Braves are still within striking distance of the Wild Card, but are 8 games back. Time is running out for the Braves to get .500 and for the team to consider buying. The upcoming four-game series against the Nationals could be the Braves’ last chance, as they may dig themselves in too deep of a hole to recover.
For the sake of this article, let’s assume the Braves are buyers are the deadline. They have the deepest farm in baseball. Comments from John Coppolella’s past suggest the Braves may try to develop a frontline starter internally rather than overpay on the market. However, they have a surplus of assets and could easily acquire a cost-controlled starter. Let’s take a look at some possible scenarios. Keep in mind that Chris Archer will not be included in this article despite the mass of rumors. It is very unlikely the Rays sell their best piece in the midst of a potential Wild Card run. Sonny Gray has been too volatile for the Braves’ liking, but he could be a buy-low option.
Braves trade Joey Wentz, Rio Ruiz and Patrick Weigel to the Chicago White Sox for Jose Quintana
Quintana may be having a bit of a down year, but he has been very consistent in his major league career. The Braves unfortunately have to part with two high upside pitching prospects and a potential Todd Frazier replacement. The reasoning for this deal would be for the Braves to control Quintana through 2020 at a very reasonable rate. He will likely fare better in the National League regardless, but the Braves will hope he bounces back and that a change of scenery from the dreadful White Sox can pay dividends. He is actually posting the best strikeout rate of his career, and has been lights out as of late. This would also give the Braves another southpaw, as Jaime Garcia’s days as a Brave are likely numbered.
Braves trade Kyle Muller, Bryse Wilson and Johan Camargo to the Detriot Tigers for Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander is owed a lot of money, but the Tigers will certainly pick up some of the bill if it means they are getting back quality prospects. Verlander is having a down year this season, but finished second in the Cy Young voting just last year. The Braves would have Verlander through 2019, and possibly 2020 if he finishes top 5 in Cy Young voting the year before. Though he is due $28 million annually, this could be great news for the Braves because it will hurt his value. The Braves may be developing top notch talent, but they will need a true veteran out there if they want a real chance at winning in the postseason. They will have to part with two high ceiling starters to make that happen, and the price could be higher. It will be tricky to gauge Verlander’s value because it is not known how much salary Detroit is willing to eat, and he is not controlled for as long as the others mentioned in this article.
Braves trade Kolby Allard, Luiz Gohara, Lucas Sims, and Tyler Pike for Gerrit Cole
Gerrit Cole is the least likely to be traded, and has the highest value of the three. This is mainly because he is still 26 and cost controlled until 2020. When you see here how much it will likely take to get Cole, it is easy to see why the team would be hesitant. He will require a king’s ransom, as he is the best, young cost-controlled option potentially available on the market. This trade would not be worth it at all, as Kolby Allard has one of the highest ceilings in minor league baseball. Pittsburgh, without a doubt, would require a haul to let loose of Cole.
The intention of this article is to show just how deep Atlanta’s farm is. They probably have the assets to go out and acquire any player in baseball right now if they wanted to, but they are standing pat and letting their players develop. The results have included a consistent improvement in the major league team throughout their rebuild. If the Braves are buyers, the only piece they are truly lacking is a front-line guy. The Braves are not really in a position to go all-in this year, but if they play well the next two weeks, there is no harm in making that move if it is a starter who can help the team for years. Justin Verlander is likely their best shot at getting an ace-type pitcher at Coppy value.