MLB Trade Deadline: Braves named potential suitors for Zach Eflin

Zach Eflin Braves Rays

The Braves have obvious needs in the outfield and at shortstop, but I continually see pundits mention pitching ahead of the MLB trade deadline.

On the one hand, clubs can never have enough pitching, which Atlanta knows all too well. The Braves rotation has been shorthanded in each of the last two postseasons due to injuries. Stockpiling starters is never a bad thing, and relievers are had for pennies on the dollar this time of year.

On the other hand, this is the best Braves rotation in years even without Spencer Strider. Max Fried, Chris Sale, and Reynaldo Lopez are as formidable as any 1-2-3, and they’re followed by Charlie Morton and Spencer Schwellenbach. That also doesn’t even include Bryce Elder, A.J. Smith-Shawver, or Ian Anderson.

For the first time in a long time, it seems the Braves have a plethora of arms, but the outlook in 2025 isn’t as solidified, which is another reason why Alex Anthopoulos may acquire a starter at the deadline. Max Fried’s free agency looms, Charlie Morton is surely retiring (right?), and Spencer Strider will be coming off a major injury.

This continues a short series where I highlight individual trade targets who CBS Sports’ R.J. Anderson mentioned the Braves as potential suitors for, moving onto a veteran starter that could help ease rotation concerns next season. Below are past pieces from the series:

Tarik Skubal, LHP, Tigers

Bo Bichette, SS, Blue Jays

6. Zach Eflin, RHP, Rays

The Rays traded Aaron Civale to the Brewers, and Eflin could be next because he’s owed $18 million next season. That’s not a ridiculous price for a starter of his caliber, but Tampa Bay is notoriously cheap and will likely capitalize on the opportunity.

Last year, Eflin finished sixth in the Cy Young race after posting a 3.50 ERA, 3.01 FIP, 1.024 WHIP, and a ridiculous 7.75 K/BB across 177.2 innings. That’s a bargain at $18 million next season, but he hasn’t been as productive in 2024. He owns a 4.19 ERA across 16 starts and 92.1 innings with an MLB-leading 0.8 BB/9, leading to an eye-popping 9.00 K/BB. His 3.77 FIP also suggests that he’s bound for positive regression.

Because he’s not having as great of a year, the price should not be as astronomical as it might’ve been last trade deadline. That feels like an Alex Anthopoulos type of move to buy low on a proven commodity. In that same breath, the Rays may not want to sell low on Zach Eflin.

If the Braves did trade for him, he’d slot somewhere in the back of the rotation and give Atlanta another reliable arm down the stretch.

Photo: Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire


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