Braves: Starting pitching trade targets

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Starting pitching isn’t the Braves most glaring need. Max Fried, Charlie Morton, and Ian Anderson have proven they are enough to get the job done. Atlanta also has a plethora of young arms that could burst onto the scene at any moment. However, they are still an injury away from being in a pickle, and the Braves know all too well that you can never have too much starting pitching.

We already know the Braves were in on Justin Verlander, and I expect them to be in on several other high-profile names this offseason. With that being said, the starting pitching market has proven to be extremely pricey this offseason, and the Braves have several other issues to take care of. It might be best if they allocate their financial resources to other positions, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t look to upgrade their rotation via trade.

Luis Castillo

I’ve already written at length about the possibility of the Braves trading for Castillo, so follow the link if you want my full breakdown on the hard-throwing righty. The Reds are reportedly open to moving him, but with two years remaining on his contract, they are in no rush, and there won’t be any shortage of suitors. It would cost plenty of prospect capital, but adding Castillo to the Braves rotation might make it the best in all of baseball.

Zac Gallen

I’m shooting for the stars here, but the Diamondbacks were one of the worst teams of all-time last season, and I just don’t see them getting better anytime soon. With four years of team control remaining, trading Gallen this early would allow them to really replenish their farm system. Gallen had one of the best starts to his career you’ll ever see, posting a 2.78 ERA in his first 27 appearances. However, the 26-year-old came a little bit down to earth in 2021, recording a 4.30 ERA over 23 starts. Still, he has ace potential, and the Braves wouldn’t have to worry about their rotation for quite some time.

Sonny Gray

Another Cincinnati Red that could be on the move this offseason, Gray has rebounded nicely since an underwhelming stint with the Yankees. He was an All-Star in 2019 and posted a respectable 3.70 ERA in 2020. 2021 wasn’t as nice to him, but he was still more than serviceable, and his numbers should only improve as he exits Cincinnati. Gray is owed $10 million next season and comes with a $12 million club option for 2023. That’s a bargain for a pitcher of his caliber; the Braves should definitely be interested.

Sean Manaea

The A’s continue to remain competitive with such a light payroll, but they do that by constantly replenishing their farm system. Manaea is projected to earn $10.2 million in his final year of arbitration, so you can bet Oakland will be fielding calls for him all offseason, with a hope to trade him outside of the American League.

Shane Bieber

If I’m going to shoot for the stars with Gallen, why not try with Bieber? The Indians have a plethora of talented arms, and the 2020 AL Cy Young award winner is the best of the bunch. Given Bieber has three years of team control remaining, he will bring in an arm and a leg in a trade. With the Indians potentially going through a mini-rebuild of sorts, moving him now before his arbitration price gets too high makes sense. The Braves would have to unload several top prospects, but they would be World Series favorites for years to come, and I could see the Indians moving him.

John Means

The Orioles didn’t show any interest in dealing Means last season, and with three more years of arbitration remaining, I’m not sure they will this offseason, but it’s certainly worth a phone call. Means is coming off a season where he posted 4.0 WAR, a 3.62 ERA, and an impressive 1.030 WHIP. The Orioles aren’t anywhere close to being competitive, so they could be more inclined to deal him this offseason.

Merrill Kelly

Of all the pitchers on this list, Kelly is the least sexy name, but he would be a solid back-end of the rotation option. He’s also probably easily the most poachable. As I’ve said, the Diamondbacks should be looking to sell anything they don’t view to be a long-term piece. Getting what they can for the 32-year-old Kelly, who still has three years left of control, makes the most sense for them.

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