Report: Braves eyeing Rays’ Zach Eflin as trade target

Zach Eflin Braves Rays

The Braves are reportedly eyeing Rays starting pitcher Zach Eflin as a potential trade target for later in the season.

“Atlanta is keeping a close eye on Tampa Bay Rays veteran starter Zach Eflin if they decide they need another starter at the trade deadline,” Bob Nightengale writes for USA Today. 

Braves fans should be extremely familiar with Zach Eflin. He came up with the Phillies and spent the first seven years of his career with Philadelphia before signing a three-year, $40 million contract with the Rays in December of 2022. In Tampa Bay, Eflin experienced a career year last season, recording a 3.50 ERA and 3.01 FIP on his way to a sixth-place finish in the AL Cy Young race.

The numbers aren’t nearly as sexy this season. Eflin owns a 4.12 ERA over ten starts and is only striking out 6.7 batters per nine innings. However, his 3.68 FIP suggests he’s been the subject of some bad luck, and perhaps most importantly, he doesn’t walk anybody. Eflin has always been a strike thrower, averaging just 1.9 walks per nine innings for his career, and that number is down to 0.6 walks per nine this season, which leads the majors.

Zach Eflin checks a lot of boxes for the Braves. He’s durable, throws strikes, familiar with the NL East, and under contract through the 2025 season. Pitching has not been the issue in Atlanta, but if Alex Anthopoulos has learned anything from the last two seasons, you can never have enough starting pitchers. Eflin also shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg in terms of prospects, but you never know at the trade deadline. There will be no shortage of suitors for his services if the Rays make him available, which is another aspect that could negate a potential trade.

The Tampa Bay Rays are currently 25-23, which puts them in a tie for the final Wild Card spot in the American League. They have been perennial playoff contenders for the last decade, and while their roster isn’t stacked with talent, they find ways to win and always seem to be around come October. Assuming they are going to sell at the trade deadline is foolish. Zach Eflin would be a tremendous addition for the Braves, but there are a lot of moving parts that would have to fall the right way for this to come to fruition.

Photo: Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire

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