The Braves have stacks on stacks to spend this offseason. However, Alex Anthopolous has hinted that any big move would be made via trade. Knowing the nature of Anthopolous, it would be wise to take his comments with a grain of salt. He has always been a dark horse to make a big move. History does show, however, that his big moves are usually made on the trade market.
Anthopolous has been on both ends of this spectrum. While Blue Jays general manager, he traded for Josh Donaldson for pennies on the dollar. However, he also traded away Noah Syndergaard as a prospect for R.A. Dickey after his career-best season, a move that did not pay off dividends.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at some guys Anthopolous would be most likely to include in a trade package this offseason:
On paper as of now, the Braves are expected to enter the season with a lot of guys competing for five rotation spots. This list currently includes Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, Kevin Gausman, Touki Toussaint, Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright, Max Fried, Luiz Gohara and Kolby Allard.
Now, while of course a bunch of these guys can be stashed in the minors, this is quite the logjam, even without Anibal Sanchez in the mix. The Braves should look to move from their surplus to upgrade other spots on the roster, hopefully in a cost-controlled manner. After all, that would be the point of making a move on the trade market.
Gausman was just acquired, Newcomb and Foltynewicz enjoyed breakout seasons, Touki and Wright look untouchable, and a Gohara trade would be selling low. So who are the most likely to go?
Julio Teheran and Freddie Freeman are the longest-tenured members of this Atlanta Braves team. However, Teheran does not enjoy the same type of job security as Freeman. He has been involved in trade rumors for years, but the Braves have held on to him through the rebuild. A strong second half of the season and putting his SunTrust Park woes behind him helps his case to remain a Brave, but his usage in the postseason strongly suggests he is not seen in as high regard as he once was. This may foreshadow a move by Anthopolous to try to find other players to help this team if he is comfortable with five others starters offering the same production. Teheran has just two years of control left, so the time to move him is now if they plan to. They will be competing these next two years.
Fried may be the odd man out of these talented pitching prospects. Despite solid performances at the major league level, the Braves do not seem to give him the same opportunities as others. This was, of course, until they started using him as a long reliever in the playoffs. Between this and having John Smoltz compare him to Blake Snell mid-broadcast, were the Braves showcasing him for a trade? Time will only tell but he seems like the most tradeable young arm right now.
The hype has been real for Allard as he has made his rise throughout the minors, but a dip in velocity, strikeout numbers and poor performance in his short stints in the majors may have some fans wondering if he has what it takes to be a rotation piece. He is still very talented, and at age 20, has a lot of development ahead of him. However, if the Braves are concerned, now may be the time to make the move.
Inciarte has been a great addition to the Braves. His elite defense holds value in itself, and he is one of baseball’s premier second-half performers. However, one thing that the 2018 season proved is that he is not a true leadoff man. It would not be so surprising to see the Braves hand the keys to Ronald in center field at some point down the road if that is what he prefers. If the Braves were to go after a big-time, cost-controlled outfielder, they could package Inciarte and his team-friendly contract to some pitching prospects in order to upgrade. At the end of the day, Inciarte is a good player, but he is not great. And with most holes on this roster filled beside catcher and right field, if the Braves look to upgrade the roster via trade there are only so many spots they can do this at. There is no doubt the Braves need a true clean-up hitter, and parting with Inciarte to acquire that may be well worth the risk.
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