With the trade deadline looming and Manny Machado sporting Dodger Blue, how will the rest of the league react? You have to think Arizona is going to make a push to match. Colorado has come to life, going 12-3 over their last 15 games and is expected to do the same. Washington is not going away quietly with this year possibly being Bryce Harper’s swan song, and Philadelphia is going to hit the gas with their margin for error being razor thin. In a league full of buyers in a market full of rentals, how can Atlanta improve to keep up with the rest of the National League?
This one is obvious. Atlanta ranks 20th in bullpen ERA (4.28). We’ve been harping on this one for weeks over at SportsTalkATL so I won’t beat the drum that’s been beat since mid June.
RHP Kirby Yates: 3-0, 1.43 ERA in 37.2 IP, 11.5 K/9. 0.76 BA vs RHH
LHP Zach Britton: 1-0, 3.45 ERA in 15.2 IP, 7.5 K/9. 4 Saves
RHP Joakim Soria: 0-3, 2.70 ERA in 36.2 IP, 11.3 K/9. 14 Saves
RHP Raisel Iglesias: 1-1, 2.30 ERA in 43 IP, 9.6 K/9. 19 Saves
LHP Adam Conley: 3-1, 2.73 ERA in 26.1 IP, 10.6 K/9. .146 BA v RHH
These guys play for San Diego, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Miami, respectively. All of these clubs are in the thick of a rebuild, so they would no doubt have an interest in Atlanta’s treasure trove of prospects. Yates is the main prize of this group. Boston and Houston are bound to bid for his services. Iglesias isn’t a bad consolation prize. Those two will cost the most in term of prospect capital, but they are also the the most talented of this group. I think realistically the Braves are most likely to wind up with Soria out of the names listed here. Dombrowski will outbid Anthopoulos for Yates, Houston will overpay for Zach Britton, Conley will also end up in Boston, and I think Cincinnati holds on to Iglesias for now.
This is the one that always gets our Twitter mentions nice and frisky. Controllable starters are the most expensive assets in terms of prospects in all of baseball, any decent one will not come cheap.
RHP Carlos Martinez: 6-6, 3.39 ERA in 95.2 IP, 1.39 WHIP
RHP Chris Archer: 3-4, 4.30 ERA in 90 IP, 1.38 WHIP
RHP Michael Fulmer: 3-9, 4.50 ERA in 112 IP, 1.32 WHIP
RHP Dylan Bundy: 6-9, 4.57 ERA in 108.1 IP, 1.30 WHIP
RHP Kevin Gausman: 4-7, 4.33 ERA in 112.1 IP, 1.37 WHIP
I don’t see Atlanta making a move for any of these guys. They are each under control until at least 2020, which means Top 10 prospects will be on the table for Martinez/Archer/Fulmer. I believe St. Louis continues to push for the postseason with Martinez, Tampa’s asking price for Archer has historically proven to be too steep, and Fulmer is in the Bronx before July 31st. Don’t let face numbers fool you, Fulmer is an elite talent. Now we get to Bundy/Gausman. They both play for Baltimore, and their inflated numbers are a casualty of the division they play in. They’ve been mentioned in a package including Jonathan Schoop (more on him later). Having to play Boston and New York a combined 38 times in a season will balloon any pitcher’s ERA. Bundy and Gausman were both rushed to the majors, so a change of scenery and coaching could get them on the right track; similar to another Oriole named Jake Arrieta. While a Bundy/Gausman tandem wouldn’t cost near as much, they would carry far more risk.
These guys are a lot more realistic options for Anthopoulos in a market that isn’t particularly very strong. These guys will be significantly cheaper in terms of trade capital.
RHP Mike Fiers: 7-6, 3.49 ERA in 111 IP, 1.24 WHIP
LHP JA Happ: 10-6, 4.18 ERA in 114 IP, 1.18 WHIP
RHP Tyson Ross: 6-8, 4.29 ERA in 113.1 IP, 1.29 WHIP
RHP Matt Harvey: 5-6, 5.21 ERA in 95 IP, 1.32 WHIP
RHP Lance Lynn: 7-8, 5.23 ERA in 96.1 IP, 1.66 WHIP
Let me just get this out of the way: No thanks to Matt Harvey. He’s included because he’s an option, but just no. No. One more time? No. Happ and Lynn are both victims of a few bad recent starts, but both have been solid. Ross has been much better in July than in May and June. I think the best option for Atlanta is still Mike Fiers. He’s got championship pedigree in Houston, and he’s been consistent all year. I can’t say the same for the rest of these guys. I think he’d be a tad more expensive, but he wouldn’t cost a prospect i’d lose too much sleep over trading.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way; the Braves will more than likely make a play for Mike Moustakas. His numbers are almost identical to Johan Camargo’s sans 10 extra home runs.
3B Mike Moustakas: .245/.308/.766, 19 HR, 58 RBI
3B Eduardo Escobar: .272/.332/.836, 14 HR, 36 Doubles (Leads MLB), 58 RBI
OF Adam Jones: .277/.303/.728, 10 HR, 37 RBI
2B Jonathan Schoop: .231/.264/.667, 12 HR, 27 RBI
It’s worth noting Escobar is capable of playing almost every position, which adds to his value. I think Philadelphia makes a strong play for him and acquires him from Minnesota. I think Atlanta eventually ends up with Moustakas for a guy like Rio Ruiz. Adam Jones is a wild card here. The Braves wouldn’t have to give up much for him; just assume most or all of his $17 million (an expiring deal). Jones isn’t having his best year at the plate, and his defense is putrid. However, he’s a gamer and an excellent teammate. A Schoop trade including Bundy and Gausman is an interesting concept. He’s been abysmal this year, but he’s one year removed from slashing .293/.338/.841 with 35 Doubles, 32 Home Runs, 105 RBIs and finishing on the AL MVP Ballot. Maybe his performance is a product of the environment. If he can be bought low as a bench bat and filler third baseman, he could be a high reward lottery ticket.
Overall, in a perfect world, I’d like to acquire Yates and Soria along with Fiers or Martinez. However, I don’t see Alex Anthopoulos pushing all of his chips in this season with a star studded 2019 Free Agency looming. We’ll see come July 31st at 4 PM.