The Braves were reportedly in on Aaron Nola, even offering him a $162 million deal over six years according to some reports.
Shortly afterward, media pundits suggested that Alex Anthopoulos turned his focus to Sonny Gray, who then inked a three-year deal worth $75 million deal to join the Cardinals.
Gray told reporters after signing that it was always St. Louis, so it seems Atlanta was never really a landing spot for the veteran pitcher. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the Braves still need to bolster the rotation. So, what are the options on the market?
Yoshinobu Yamamoto is the best free agent left, and he’ll garner something north of $200 million. The 25-year-old is a frontline starter, which would give the Braves the best starting rotation in baseball. Is AA capable of handing out that kind of contract? Given the reports of the $162 million deal he offered Aaron Nola, it seems within reason that Anthopoulos has been granted a budget that could lure Yamamoto, but it’s certainly possible that Atlanta’s GM’s eyes are elsewhere.
The trade market is ripe with potential targets. Dylan Cease and Corbin Burnes are the two most attractive names available. However, each would cost considerable trade capital and wouldn’t be necessarily worth acquiring unless they could be extended.
Another avenue could be going after a lesser, more available pitcher via the free agent market — like Eduardo Rodriguez — as Jim Bowden of The Athletic suggests.
Atlanta Braves — Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP (five years, $90 million)
Atlanta needs starting pitching depth after trading Kyle Wright and Michael Soroka this offseason. Eduardo Rodriguez would be a good fit with the Braves and could slot into the middle of their rotation. He went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA and 1.153 WHIP in 26 starts this past season with Detroit.
After spending his first six years with the Red Sox, the lefty departed for Detroit where he’s spent the last two seasons. He’s got postseason experience, winning a World Series with Boston, and is coming off the best season of his career, posting a 3.30 ERA in 26 starts with the Tigers.
Rodriguez doesn’t have elite strikeout stuff but still produces swings and misses and is in line for a major payday after opting out of his contract. MLB Trade Rumors projects him to garner a deal worth four years, $82 million.
E Rod would slot in behind Spencer Strider and Max Fried, giving Atlanta a potent three-headed monster with Morton rounding out the top four. He’s durable too, eclipsing 150 innings in three out of the last four seasons.
Rodriguez may not be as sexy of a name as Aaron Nola and Sonny Gray, but he could be similarly productive over the course of his next contract.
Photographer: Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire