A spicy rumor out West should have Braves’ brass hard at work:
San Diego’s interest in Kluber is primarily to flip him, sources say; he does not fit the Padres age-wise. Pads struggling to line up with trade partners. If they could get Kluber, they likely would want top Reds prospect Nick Senzel, whom Cincinnati does not want to move.
— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) January 15, 2019
It is pretty obvious why this should raise eyebrows. Sure, the Padres are not ready to win now with Kluber. But if you think about it, aren’t the Reds in the same boat? Who is a contending team that desperately needs an ace and has a bunch of great prospects, not to mention a top third base prospect?
The Braves, that’s who.
Now to be clear, moving Riley is obviously not in the Braves’ best interest. Josh Donaldson is signed to just a one-year pact, and Riley may be able to hold down an outfield spot if that experiment goes well in Spring Training. Personally, I would not trade him for JT Realmuto straight up. But Kluber is a different caliber player. The Braves have a ton of options for their 2019 rotation, but Kluber is the type of pitcher who can make the Braves contenders overnight.
With Jon Heyman’s recent report that the Braves are not having any discussions with free agents, it is clear the team is either waiting out the market or pursuing trade options. Kluber is the best pitcher available on the market, and the Braves would have him for less than market value for three years, even if the price tag is around $17 million annually. The next two years after 2019 are team options, so if there is a decline, they are off the hook for just $1 million.
The deal would make sense for all parties involved. Almost too much sense. The ball is in your court Alex Anthopoulos.