We’re stuck in the middle of the lockout, and it’s going to be a while before anything changes. Hopefully, this ordeal doesn’t affect Spring Training, or God forbid, the actual start of the season, but it very well might, so I figured it was time to get creative.
Free agency was wild before the lockout began, with billions of dollars being thrown around like candy. I expect the Braves to be much more active once the lockout comes to an end, but bidding wars haven’t exactly been Alex Anthopoulos’ cup of tea, which means he very well could favor the trade market this offseason. So in this series, I’ll be coming up with two blockbuster trades with each division. I will not, however, be including the NL East because the Marlins, Phillies, and Mets will all be attempting to compete next season, so there’s no way they will be making a blockbuster trade with the Braves.
If you follow the site a lot, you’re probably tired of me talking about the Braves trading for Sonny Gray. I’ve mentioned it a multitude of times now, but it’s because I think it makes too much sense. The market for starting pitchers has been out of this world this offseason, and it’s not going to get better when the lockout ends, so if the Braves want to land another frontline starter, they are going to have to trade for one.
Now, do they necessarily need another frontline starter? Maybe not. Charlie Morton, Max Fried, and Ian Anderson got the job done last season. However, the Braves also got a Herculean effort from the back-end of their bullpen — one that’s not likely sustainable. If Atlanta wants to repeat, they’ll need at least one more high-quality starting arm, and Gray is just that. Plus, he’s affordable, under control for two seasons, and the Reds are rumored to be shopping him. If I’m Alex Anthopoulos, I’m very interested. It won’t come without cost, though.
This may seem like an overpay for some Braves fans, but this is what top-flight and controllable starting pitching costs. This might be selling low on Waters, but he’s coming off a down season, and the Braves have a boatload of outfield depth in the organization. The same can be said for their starting pitchers. Muller comes with plenty of upside, but he still has significant control issues. There’s a chance he never even makes it with the Braves, given how many talented young arms they have in their organization. This is a fair trade for both sides.
I didn’t get too original with my trade targets in the NL Central because I didn’t have to. Both of these players have been linked to the Braves in the past, and Reynolds is another guy that makes too much sense. Atlanta was reportedly in on Reynolds at the last trade deadline but balked at the high asking price and pivoted. You have to imagine those talks have continued into the offseason, especially with the Braves needing a centerfielder. Following an All-Star campaign, Reynolds will cost an arm and a leg, but the Braves have the prospects to get it done, and he would give them an elite outfield for the duration of his contract.
This will probably have a lot of Braves fans screaming, “NOOOO WAY!!!” But this is the kind of deal it will take to land an All-Star caliber centerfielder like Reynolds that comes with four years of control. In fact, if you look at Baseball Trade Values simulator, this trade still leans in favor of the Braves. However, I’m not as down on Drew Waters as they are after just one sub-par season, and I think Michael Harris has enough upside to really pique the Pirates interest. There’s the real possibility Pittsburgh comes away with a couple of All-Stars in this deal, but the Braves get the known commodity in this trade while they are right in the middle of their championship window. If they were to win another World Series with Reynolds under contract, this move would always go down as a win.