The Braves have had a productive start to the offseason, picking up Charlie Morton’s $20 million option while signing Pierce Johnson and Joe Jimenez to multi-year deals. It stabilizes the pitching staff, but there’s still work to be done.
Though Atlanta’s pitching wasn’t the reason for the early exit this year, the Braves have been shorthanded in every postseason since 2020. It’s been the one constant, and Alex Anthopoulos has seemingly recognized that common occurrence.
“You have to be careful you don’t overweigh a four-game sample size,” Anthopoulos said, via Mark Bowman of MLB.com. “But I don’t think you can ignore it either. I know that’s two answers in one. But, we have general ideas and thoughts. It likely will influence what we do this offseason, which is why I’m probably not going to get into it because I don’t want people to know what we’re trying to do, other than we want to make the team better.”
The historic Braves offense can’t be upgraded too much, but the pitching staff absolutely can. Relying on Max Fried, Charlie Morton, and Spencer Strider to remain healthy for the entire season would be naive.
Fried dealt with a significant elbow injury and blister this year, while Morton nursed a finger injury. Sure, you could chalk it up to bad luck, but it’s been a pattern. Fried suffered from the flu last year, and Strider had an oblique injury. Every year, the Braves rotation has been shorthanded when October rolls around. Even in 2021, they had Tucker Davidson and Dylan Lee starting games in the World Series. They won, but that’s not a formula for sustained success come the postseason.
I prefer to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Overkilling the pitching staff is the right approach to the offseason.
Regardless of the avenue the Braves choose, they have to add to the rotation. Though his injury history concerns me, Tyler Glasnow is an option as The Athletic mentioned in a piece about stars that could be traded this offseason.
Tyler Glasnow is healthy again and pitching like the ace that he is. The righty went 10-7 with a 3.53 ERA and 1.083 WHIP in 21 starts last season, striking out 162 in 120 innings. He was better in the second half of the season, when he went 8-4 with a 3.22 ERA in 13 starts. Glasnow, 30, is signed for $25 million in 2024 and will be a free agent after the season. His trade market will be robust, filled with contending teams like the Dodgers, Rangers, Orioles and Braves who are looking for short-term, top-of-the-rotation starters. The Rays always have one eye on today and the other on the future and their best play is to move him this winter rather than wait until the trade deadline, when they’ll probably be in the race, making it more difficult to deal him at that point.
Injuries have kept Tyler Glasnow from becoming a great, but he bounced back in 2023, posting an impressive 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings to go with a 1.083 WHIP and 3.53 ERA.
The free agent market for pitching is rather thin, so there will certainly be some overpaying going on. It makes sense for the Rays to shop Glasnow a year ahead of his free agency, and the Braves are a sensible landing spot.
In terms of stuff, Glasnow has it in spades. Moreover, Tampa Bay is likely interested in offloading his team-record $25 million salary for 2024, but that benefits the Braves.
$25 million for a healthy Glasnow is a palatable price, and it doesn’t tie the club down long-term. However, that’s just the thing: “a healthy Tyler Glasnow” isn’t guaranteed. It’s a risk that I wouldn’t be thrilled to take, but his talent is undeniable and would give Atlanta the most feared rotation in baseball. It’s a Braves trade worth mulling over.