The Braves are going to be active this offseason. They have to be based on what’s happened in the postseason in each of the last two years. Major changes may not be necessary, but improvement to make this team better equipped for October is a must.
The primary focus of the offseason is going to be pitching. The Braves will have to add a boatload of relief arms to replenish their bullpen, but their rotation also needs quite of bit of work, especially if Charlie Morton decides to retire.
How they plug those holes in the rotation will be intriguing. They should have cash to spend in free agency. Plenty of money is coming off the books, and payroll has risen every season. It’s fair to expect that to continue; however, Alex Anthopoulos has been hesitant to hand out lucrative contracts to starting pitchers since he took over as the Braves general manager. Perhaps that changes this winter based on how the last two seasons have ended, but I wouldn’t be so sure.
More than likely, Atlanta will try to fill their rotation with high upside arms that have something to prove, and there’s a free agent out of New York that fits this bill perfectly.
Luis Severino of the Yankees is set to hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career. Like the entire Yankees organization, he had a 2023 campaign to forget, recording an unsightly 6.65 ERA and 1.646 WHIP. He was up there with the worst pitchers in baseball in terms of hits and home runs allowed, but this is a guy that was considered an ace not long ago.
In the 2018-2019 seasons, Severino compiled a 33-14 record with a 3.18 ERA over 63 starts. He was among the brightest young arms in the game… then injuries struck.
After signing a four-year, $40 million contract extension with the Yankees, Severino was limited to just three starts in 2019 because of two separate injuries. The following year, he underwent Tommy John surgery, causing him to miss all of 2020, and when he finally did recover in 2021, a groin injury delayed his return to the Yankees and limited him to just four appearances.
2022 started to a similar tune. Another injury kept him out for the first half of the season, but he finally did return and looked like the guy who dominated the AL East during the early part of his career, posting a 3.18 ERA over 19 starts. The hope was that momentum would carry into this season. Unfortunately, it didn’t, but it wasn’t for a lack of stuff.
Severino still has an arm worth getting excited about, featuring a fastball that sits in the high 90s. He also finished 2023 on a high note, recording a 3.16 ERA over his last five starts before being shut down for the season with an oblique strain.
His lengthy injury history and struggle this season are a concern, but they are also what make him a potential bargain in free agency. No team in their right mind can offer him the lucrative multi-year contract he would have received a few years ago.
Severino is a prime candidate to receive a one-year deal in hopes of parlaying a productive season into a much larger contract. These are the type of deals Alex Anthopoulos has become known for during his tenure in Atlanta. They’ve worked out for the Braves more often than not, which is something Severino should also be considering when deciding where to sign with this offseason.
If Anthopoulos is looking for a low-risk, high-reward starting pitcher, there won’t be many better options. With that being said, Severino can’t be the only addition to this rotation, given his inability to stay healthy since 2018.
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