This trade deadline looks like it is setting up to be a wonky one. With the expanded playoffs, a lot more teams feel like they have a chance to make the postseason. It doesn’t look like there are going to be many clubs willing to just punt on the season within the next couple of months. And even the ones that are going to be selling don’t have a lot of high quality pieces to offer.
Thankfully, the Braves don’t have a ton of glaring holes. Their bullpen could use another arm or two, but they should be able to find that. The lineup could also use another outfield bat, especially if Marcell Ozuna is out for an extended period after leaving yesterday’s game with an injured hand following a hit-by-pitch. However, another area the Braves could look to upgrade is their rotation.
Max Fried has begun throwing again, even if he’s yet to take the mound. It’s fair to expect him back at some point, but there’s no telling if Kyle Wright will return. For the most part, the Braves starting rotation has done a fantastic job withstanding some massive blows, but they have experienced some regression as of late. I don’t expect Alex Anthopoulos to be targeting some frontline guys that could become available–such as Marcus Stroman–but adding a proven veteran that could eat some innings, particularly one with playoff experience, could do the Braves wonder. Here are a few names to keep an eye on moving toward the trade deadline.
The White Sox look like one of the few teams poised to be sellers at the trade deadline, and they have a trio of starters they could deal. Lance Lynn is a name a lot of baseball fans are familiar with because he’s been one of the best pitchers over the last five years. However, in 2022, he’s been a primary reason why the White Sox have severely underachieved. Lynn boasts an unsightly 6.72 ERA, but perhaps a change of scenery could do him wonders. He’s 36-years-old and has an $18 million club option for next year with a $1 million buyout. If the White Sox sell, Lynn will almost assuredly be moved, and he might be worth the Braves taking a swing on.
Once one of the best pitchers in the game, injuries have totally derailed Flaherty’s career, limiting him to just 32 starts from 2020-2022. However, he’s back healthy and having a decent season for the Cardinals, recording a 4.15 ERA over 13 starts. Flaherty is set to become a free agent at season’s end, so it would make sense for the Cardinals to field calls on him, especially if they continue to play terrible baseball. It likely shouldn’t cost the Braves an arm and a leg to acquire him either.
Greinke opted not to ring chase this offseason, and instead signed with the Kansas City Royals, where his Hall-of-Fame career began. The Royals love having him around, and Greinke clearly has a soft spot for Kansas City. So, even though Kansas City is one of the worst teams in the league and several teams will be looking for competent starting pitchers, there is no guarantee he will be dealt. The Royals will likely let him decide as a sign of respect, but if Greinke wants to give it one last shot with a competitive team, the Braves could do a lot worse to round out their rotation.
Of all the pitchers on this list, Lucas Giolito is by far the most interesting to me. Of course, that likely means he will cost the most in terms of prospects, but because he’s set to become a free agent at the end of the season, I still think he’s in the realm of possibilities for the Braves. From 2019-2021, Giolito was among the best pitchers in baseball, finishing inside the top 11 for the AL Cy Young in each year. However, 2022 was a year to forget, recording a 4.90 ERA over 30 starts. He also has been experiencing a decline in his strikeout rate, but he’s been pretty good for Chicago this season, owning a 3.53 ERA. I still don’t think he’s close to the same pitcher he was at his peak. So, if the White Sox are hoping for several top-end prospects, it won’t be worth it. But he’s another arm worth monitoring as the trade deadline approaches.
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