Atlanta Braves named the top landing spot for Jesús Luzardo

Jesus Luzardo Atlanta Braves

Due to a plethora of injuries, the Atlanta Braves now seem poised to be major players ahead of the 2024 MLB trade deadline.

An upgrade in the outfield seems like an inevitability to replace the injured Ronald Acuña Jr. who is out for the season with a torn ACL. That’s the way Alex Anthopoulos handled it last time this happened, and there’s no reason he won’t attempt to do the same this year. However, as I’ve said on several occasions, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

Every area of the roster can always be upgraded, even positions of strength, which Anthopoulos has shown he is not afraid to do in the past. Shortstop is one that comes to mind, and even the Braves outstanding pitching staff could be better, which is why Joel Reuter of Bleacher Report named the Braves the #1 landing spot for Marlins lefty Jesús Luzardo. 

The emergence of Reynaldo López in the Atlanta Braves rotation has been somewhat nullified by the fact that ace Spencer Strider is out for the season following elbow surgery, leaving the No. 5 starter spot as a major question mark.

Prospect Spencer Schwellenbach made his MLB debut on Wednesday, following in the footsteps of Bryce Elder, Darius Vines, Allan Winans, AJ Smith-Shawver and Ray Kerr in taking his turn to try to bring stability to the back of the Atlanta staff.

Elder, an All-Star in 2023, has a 6.46 ERA in 23.2 innings over five starts and he is currently trying to sort things out at the Triple-A level.

The top of the Braves rotation has been terrific, but the revolving door in the fifth spot has shined a light on the unproven nature of their depth, and Luzardo would shore up one of the few glaring holes on the roster.

For several reasons, I’m all for the Atlanta Braves making a move for another high-quality arm like Jesús Luzardo, but not really for the reasons Reuter laid out. The fifth spot in the rotation isn’t all that important, and it’s a moot point come the postseason. At most, the Braves will only need four starters in October.

Beyond that, I’m pretty high on Spencer Schwellenbach, and we’ve still yet to see Hurston Waldrep. AJ Smith-Shawver will also be back in a couple of months, and don’t forget about Ian Anderson, who is scheduled to return around the same time. Still, adding more arms should be heavily considered by Alex Anthopoulos.

For starters, health is never a given, as we’ve seen firsthand this season. If one of Chris Sale, Max Fried, or Reynaldo Lopez were to go down, the Braves would be in a world of trouble. This is a team that is now heavily reliant on its pitching, and it is going to have to stay that way if the Braves want to have success in October.

There’s also no telling how Lopez will hold up the entire season, as it’s his first year as a starter since 2019, and Luzardo has the potential to be a top-three starter on the Braves. Even if he’s off to a bad start in 2024, the stuff is some of the best in baseball.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Alex Anthopoulos has to be thinking beyond this year. Max Fried is set to become a free agent. Most expect Charlie Morton to finally retire, and Spencer Strider is coming off a torn UCL. The Atlanta Braves rotation has more questions than answers in 2025 and beyond. Jesús Luzardo would ease a lot of those concerns, who is under team control through the 2026 season.

Now, let’s get to Reuter’s hypothetical trade.

Atlanta Braves get LHP Jesús Luzardo in exchange for RHP Hurston Waldrep (No. 73 on B/R Top 100), RHP JR Ritchie, C Drake Baldwin, RHP Lucas Braun

This is a pretty fair trade for a pitcher of Luzardo’s caliber. Hurston Waldrep is a fantastic young prospect, but Braves fans should know all too well how volatile pitching prospects can be. JR Ritchie is a young arm with a lot of promise but is years away from contributing after undergoing Tommy John surgery. And Drake Baldwin is a solid catching prospect, which isn’t a huge need for the Braves with Sean Murphy in the fold.

I’m all for the Braves making a move like this; however, what gets me is Reuter naming them the #1 landing spot for Luzardo. Really? There isn’t one team with a greater need for a starting pitcher than the Atlanta Braves? That’s simply nonsense.

Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

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