Taking a look at the Braves’ upcoming roster for 2024, they could probably do nothing except pick up Eddie Rosario‘s option and be the best team in baseball. But even the best team in baseball still needs to make improvements, and as we’ve seen this season, the rotation can always use more arms, especially if Charlie Morton decides to hang it up.
There are a multitude of elite starting pitchers set to become free agents this offseason — Aaron Nola, Blake Snell, Julio Urías, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, just to name a few. However, all of those guys are going to require contracts north of $150 million. The Braves have the financial means to meet their demands; however, nothing since Alex Anthopoulos has taken over as general manager suggests that they will.
Anthopoulos has been allergic to coughing up the assets necessary to lure a frontline pitcher to Atlanta, which isn’t a knock against him. Frankly, the starting pitching market is outrageous. Whether it be free agency or a trade, it’s tough to find value, which is why the Braves have avoided it. That’s not likely to change this offseason, and with a potential Max Fried contract extension looming, I don’t see Atlanta handing out a long-term deal to one of the top free agents available.
Anthopoulos likes to shop in the bargain bin when it comes to starting pitchers, searching for proven veterans looking for one-year deals — like Charlie Morton — or guys with upside that are coming off down years and are looking to prove themselves. The latter describes the candidate in this piece.
Luis Severino burst onto the scene as a 23-year-old in 2017, making the AL All-Star team and finishing 3rd in the Cy Young race with the Yankees. He then made another All-Star appearance in 2018, which led to him signing a four-year, $40 million extension ahead of the 2019 campaign. This is where the trouble begins to arise.
Injuries led to Luis Severino missing nearly all of the 2019 season, and in February of 2020, he underwent Tommy John surgery, which kept him out all of that year and most of 2021 as well. From 2019-2021, Severino made a total of three starts, and things started out in 2022 just as poorly, as he began the season on the 60-day IL with a lat strain. However, when he returned, he looked like the same pitcher that was so dominant before all the injuries, posting a 3.18 ERA over 19 starts, leading us to 2023.
This season has once again been a year to forget for Severino. Injuries have been a problem, but even when healthy, he has been abysmal for the Yankees, recording a 7.26 ERA. Yet, I caught myself watching him when he was pitching against the Braves a couple of weeks ago and thinking, “How the hell does this guy have an ERA approaching 8.00?”
Severino still possesses a high-quality four-pitch mix with a fastball that can touch 99 MPH. This is not the arm of a guy who missed nearly three years due to injury, and he’s still just 29 years old as he approaches free agency.
Given everything that’s transpired over the last 4-5 years, Severino isn’t going to land a bag in free agency. He’ll be looking for a short-term contract to rebuild his value, and even though he seems to love New York, a change of scenery may be best for the future of his career.
That’s where the Braves come in. Severino has talent, and the Braves have a proven track record of getting the most out of their pitchers. He isn’t going to cost too much, and there’s a chance he will turn into one of the bargains of the offseason. This is a move that has Alex Anthopoulos written all over it, as the Braves aim to beef up their rotation for 2024.
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