For years, Brad Brach was one of the most dominant relief pitchers in the AL East while with the Baltimore Orioles.
Alex Anthopoulos poached him at the perfect time, as Brach struggled to start 2018. So did his teammates, and a historically bad Orioles team had no problem giving up an expiring contract on the low. He was traded to the Braves in exchange for international signing bonus slot money, which they could not really use anyway due to sanctions from the MLB.
Brach delivered. In 27 appearances with Atlanta, he looked to be his old self, issuing fewer walks and posting a 1.52 ERA.
Despite this and his resumé, Brach’s market has been very quiet this offseason, which means it may be time to bring him back on a short-term deal as they did with Nick Markakis.
There have been reports that the Braves wanted to add a closer earlier in the offseason. While Arodys Vizcaino’s health has proved to be a concern, he has proven successful in the closer’s role. A.J. Minter may be ready to take the next step forward. Darren O’Day, Brach’s former teammate, is a valuable addition with a great track record. Jonny Venters is back. Dan Winkler and Chad Sobotka were promising last season. Not to mention, a number of young arms could be making their way to the bullpen.
However, we all know how volatile pitching can be, even within a season itself. Sam Freeman and Shane Carle will be the first to tell you that. You can never have enough arms, and while the Braves have a decent bullpen on paper and a ton of upside arms on the farm, considering Brach’s expected price tag, he could provide the Braves a reliable arm who has shown the potential of returning to dominance with a change of scenery.
The Braves can stand pat if they want to. But if they aren’t going to make a move for a closer, they should probably add another arm. Brad Brach seems like a prime candidate.