Braves: Showdown set between two of the best offseason acquisitions

MLB: APR 02 Braves at White Sox

It was the winter of Shohei Ohtani this past offseason, and the Dodgers’ new $700 million man has come as advertised, leading all of baseball in a slew of offensive categories. However, as far as bang for your buck goes, the two best offseason acquisitions will toe the rubber against each other on Monday night as the Braves host the Cubs.

Through seven starts, Shota Imanaga is the early leader in the clubhouse for the NL Cy Young award. He’s 5-0 with a 1.08 ERA, leading baseball in walks per nine innings (1.1) and ERA+ (386), which is 286% above league average. The Japanese lefty was a bit of an afterthought behind Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who also signed with the Dodgers for north of $300 million, but Imanga has outproduced his fellow countryman early in the season.

Reynaldo Lopez might not have quite the hype surrounding him as Shota Imanaga right now, but that could all change quickly after tonight. Through six starts, Lopez is 2-1 with a 1.53 ERA and is striking out over nine batters per nine innings. Imanaga is deserving of all the praise he’s receiving, but there’s a genuine possibility it’s actually Lopez who exits the game with better numbers on the season if things go the Braves way on Monday.

Regardless, both of these guys have been two of the best bargains in baseball. Imanaga was signed to a $53 million contract over four years, while Lopez settled for three years and $30 million. Considering the price of a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher these days is close to $20 million per year, these are the kind of moves good organizations make that keep them good for a long time.

Photo: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire

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