Potential blockbuster starting pitching trade targets for the Braves

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When it comes to the upcoming offseason, pitching must be the Braves top priority. With Joe Jimenez, Collin McHugh, Pierce Johnson, and Kirby Yates all potentially becoming free agents, Alex Anthopoulos is going to have to add several bullpen arms. He might have to do the same for the rotation as well, especially if Charlie Morton decides it is time to retire.

The 2023-2024 free agent class is chock full of potential options when it comes to starting pitchers. From aces to guys looking for one-year, prove-it contracts, this free agent class has it all. However, in recent years, Alex Anthopoulos has preferred the trade market when it comes to blockbuster acquisitions.

The Braves might not have the farm system to swing a trade for a star player this offseason, but Anthopoulos hasn’t shied away from moving players off the major-league roster in the past if he believes it will make the team better suited to win a World Series. That could happen again this offseason, especially if the Braves want to target one of the many elite starting pitchers that are made available.

Corbin Burnes

Like Max Fried, Burnes is headed into his final year of arbitration and is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2024 season. I’m not sure if he’s in the Brewers long-term plans, and it seems as if the relationship was strained when Milwaukee took him to arbitration court last offseason. If the Brewers don’t think they can re-sign him, he’s likely to be made available, and there are few pitchers in the entire league with a track record that can compare to the 2021 NL Cy Young.

Burnes has been named an All-Star in each of the last three seasons. In 2021, he led the league in ERA and FIP. In 2022, he led the league in strikeouts, and this year, he led the league in WHIP. Burnes will be 29 next year and is right in the middle of his prime, but if the Braves are going to give up the necessary haul to acquire him, they have to be willing to pony up the money for an extension, which is something they haven’t done with their star players in recent years.

Tyler Glasnow

The season just ended, and there are already reports suggesting “a trade seems like the most likely scenario for Tyler Glasnow.”

The Rays don’t pay anyone, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. This is how they have to operate. Once a star player’s rookie contract is up, they are usually dealt to the highest bidder.

Glasnow is scheduled to make $25 million next year, and I would be shocked if he is on the roster on Opening Day. However, it will be interesting to see the return. While Glasnow is an ace on the mound, injuries have severely limited him. Glasnow made the most starts and pitched the most innings in his career this season, but it was only 21 starts and 120 innings. His numbers are astounding, but because he’ll be looking for a new contract and his injury history, his trade value will be severely reduced.

Dylan Cease

The White Sox had a mini fire sale at the trade deadline, and we could see that continue into the offseason. Of all their players, Dylan Cease might garner the most significant return. He didn’t have the best 2023 for his standards, pitching to the tune of a 4.58 ERA, but he’s a young arm with multiple years of control and some of the best stuff on the planet. This is a guy that finished second in the AL Cy Young race a year ago after posting a superb 2.20 ERA and 11.1 K/9. It would cost an arm and a leg for the Braves to get a deal done, but if it led to a World Series at the end of the road, it would be well worth it.

Shane Bieber

Bieber’s name has been floated in trade talks for a while now, and it might be time for the Guardians to finally move him. His velocity has dropped, leading to fewer whiffs, and he’s dealt with injuries, so the asking price won’t be nearly as high. Bieber is coming off a season in which he posted a 3.80 ERA with a 7.5 K/9 — a far cry from the 1.63 ERA and 14.2 K/9 he posted during the shortened 2020 campaign which led to his first Cy Young. However, he’s still just 28-years-old, and there are surely some teams out there that believe they could help him get back to his form of the past.

Photographer: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire

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