After the Braves’ recent signing of Will Smith, it is uncertain how many free-agent dollars will be allocated towards a starter. Of course, a ton of this may come down to whether they can come to terms with Josh Donaldson. They have reportedly been interested in Madison Bumgarner, but so are the Yankees and Phillies, two teams that will be hard to outbid.
If they end up going after a Mike Moustakas, they will have more money to spend on starting pitching. And hey, maybe Liberty Media is ready to make a spending push. But if the Braves have to find an economic solution to round out their rotation, there are a handful of options available. And even if they bring in Bumgarner, these guys could be looked at as 5th starter options, while keeping Newcomb in the bullpen.
Hamels will likely require a hefty price tag, but it would probably be a one-year deal, a move he is reportedly open to with a contender. The Braves meet that criterion. Hamels would make an excellent replacement for Dallas Keuchel. He is a lefty veteran with World Series experience, and you know what you’re going to get. Hamels was incredible for the Cubs in late 2018 and early 2019 but was not the same after returning from the IL. However, he should be fully recovered after a full offseason. Hamels was also was not issued a qualifying offer, so the Braves would not have to worry about giving up additional draft compensation. This could be a big deal considering they just gave up a pick to get Will Smith. He should cost around $15 million but would keep the Braves’ options open going forward while bolstering next year’s rotation in the process
Alex Wood is coming off an injury-marred season that is sure to hurt his free agency value. Perhaps he will be open to a homecoming at a bit of a reduced cost. Like Hamels, Wood is a solid, consistent lefty. But he is younger, can be had for less, and perhaps has more upside. It would be a roll of the dice given his health, but a $7-8 million one-year deal would likely pay dividends for the Braves. There is always the chance they catch lightning in a bottle, and Wood is one of the better pitchers in the NL, but at the very least, he should be stable at the back-end of any rotation.
Hill does not come without baggage. He’s 39-years old, and one of the most injury-prone pitchers in the league. But the Dodgers have employed him for the last four years for a reason: when he’s out there, he can pitch, and he is among the league’s best. Consider Hill a worst-case scenario, but if they need a fifth starter, they have enough guys with upside down on the farm that hopefully, one could step up if need be. Hill could probably be had for around $5 million, and he should be able to return that value while he is out there. They could also work out an incentive-based deal based on how many games he can pitch.