The Braves do not really need to tell anyone they are in the market for trades. One look at their current logjam at the top of their farm system will tell you all you need to know: Alex Anthopoulos is going to be busy this offseason. The question now looms, who will they pay via free agency and who will he go out and make a trade for? There are some position players that make sense in a trade like J.T. Realmuto, but there are numerous starting pitchers the Braves could target in a potential trade. Here are some of the juiciest names on the market, and Atlanta has the capability to make them happen.
Jacob De Grom
I start with De Grom because he is clearly the best pitcher in baseball right now, and there’s a reasonable possibility the Mets trade him this offseason. However, it is highly unlikely. Everyone wants to see DeGrom out of New York, but the Mets seem hell bent on making him the building block of the future. Who can blame them either? DeGrom was not just the Cy Young of the National League last year, he was the MVP. Unfortunately, he did not play on a successful enough team to earn the recognition.
The Braves have the prospect capital to make it happen, but why in the world would the Mets want to trade a pitcher who is signed through 2021 inside their own division? Anthopoulos would have to blow the Mets away with a package, and that might not even be enough. However, it is still possible the Mets could deal one of De Grom, Wheeler or Syndergaard.
According to reports, the Mariners are looking to tear it down and undergo a complete rebuild, and pretty much everybody is up for grabs including James Paxton. The 30-year-old southpaw has been impressive his entire five-year career but really broke out last season, striking out over 200 batters in 160 innings and recording a no-hitter.
This is the type of pitcher with obvious ace stuff and will certainly benefit from a transition to the National League. If the Braves have the prospects to pull of a deal for DeGrom, they certainly have what it takes to land Paxton, and he appears to be available.
I wrote about this a couple days ago: the Indians are a potential trade partner for Atlanta. There are not a lot of competing teams that can give up MLB-ready prospects for a game-changing ace, but the Braves are one of them. The Indians are looking to trade one of their top pitchers, so they can re-allocate that money into their offense. They certainly will be looking for a hefty return, as all of these pitchers are signed for multiple years, but the Braves have the need and the resources to make it happen.
Ray is a younger, slightly less-proven version of James Paxton. The 27-year old battled some injuries last season but still went 6-2 with a 3.93 ERA. 2017 was Ray’s breakout season as he made his first and only All-Star game, going 15-5 with an impressive 2.89 ERA. Now, the Diamondbacks are looking to reboot themselves, and Ray is a name floating around trade circles.
Zack Greinke’s name is out there, but he will be more difficult to move. He has three years left of his deal, making roughly $35 million a year. Obviously, with the Braves, that will not be a possibility. However, if they can get Arizona to eat a little less than half of that a year, the Braves could be getting him at what he is worth. He is still a top of the line pitcher, and his contract could bring down the asking price in terms of prospects, given that and his age.
Bleacher Report gave the Braves the honor of putting together a hypothetical trade for Madison Bumgarner in one of their recent articles. The fact is, even in the last year of his deal, it seems highly unlikely the Giants move Bumgarner, at least not before the season starts. This is a stubborn organization that always believe they are in the conversation for a World Series. And when you got a guy like Bumgarner, it’s hard to find fault with them.
In Bleacher Report’s article, the Braves give up Ian Anderson and Drew Waters in exchange for the Giants ace. Anderson, the #3 overall pick in 2016, has been a stud in the minor leagues and is currently the #3 prospect in the Braves’ system according to MLB.com. Waters is an extremely talented 19-year old outfield prospect from Etowah High School. Having a guy like Bumgarner would give the Braves immediate legitimacy for 2019, but you see the type of young talent it would require, and to be honest, Anderson and Waters might not even be enough. Don’t count on this happening.
If the Giants do undergo some type of rebuild, Bumgarner and Dereck Rodriguez would be great options for the Braves.