The best potential starting pitcher trade targets for the Braves

Zach Eflin Braves Rays

Over the next several weeks, the noise surrounding the trade deadline will begin to arrive in waves. The Braves are expected to be among the most active teams, as they’ve dealt with a plethora of injuries but are still right in the middle of their championship window. They can’t afford to punt on this season, even with Ronald Acuña Jr. and Spencer Strider out for the year. There’s simply too much talent on this team not to go for it.

If you like to look at things from a glass-half-full perspective, there is no shortage of areas for Alex Anthopoulos to turn to upgrade the Braves roster. The most obvious area of need is in the outfield, but shortstop is also a glaring issue, and more pitching — in any capacity — is always a bonus.

Over at The Athletic, Jim Bowden surveyed a plethora of executives with the question, “Who will be the best player at each position traded ahead of the deadline?”

There were a number of intriguing responses, and while the Braves should have interest in all of them, it’s my job to keep this realistic. Some of the marquee names that will be made available will not be possible for Alex Anthopoulos to acquire because of a weak farm system, but many of these players are very attainable and should be on the Braves’ radar.

Top Starting Pitcher Trade Targets For Braves

Jack Flaherty

The old Jack Flaherty was a force to be reckoned with; then, the injuries struck. From 2020-2022, he appeared in just 35 games (32 starts), and in his first full healthy season last year, he posted a 4.99 ERA. Nothing outstanding; still, he was able to catch on with the Tigers on a one-year deal, and it’s one of those moves that could really end up benefitting Detroit at the trade deadline.

Jack Flaherty looks all the way back. In fact, he might be even better than the pitcher he was in 2019 when he finished fourth in the NL Cy Young race as a 23-year-old. In 14 starts this season, he owns a 2.92 ERA, 2.70 FIP, 0.972 WHIP, and is striking out nearly 12 batters per nine innings. If the Tigers make Flaherty available, he’ll be one of the hottest commodities on the block. But given he is on a one-year deal, he should be attainable for the Braves if they make him a priority.

Luis Severino

Severino might not be a realistic trade target for the Braves because he’s currently on the Mets, who probably don’t want to help the Braves and may not even be sellers as the trade deadline approaches. However, if Cohen’s club doesn’t mind dealing with Anthopoulos, Severino is another starting pitcher that should pique the interest of the Braves.

The former Yankees star is someone I thought might be on Anthopoulos’ radar as a buy-low candidate, but I don’t think anybody is complaining about Chris Sale and Reynaldo Lopez. Still, Severino is having a nice bounce-back season after signing a one-year deal with the Mets, owning a 3.29 ERA over 15 starts. He’d be a fantastic option to round out the Braves rotation.

Zach Eflin

The Braves were linked to Zach Eflin over a month ago by MLB insider Bob Nightengale.

“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 wrote for USA Today Sports in late May. 

Eflin is a veteran that spent the first seven years of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies. That kind of familiarity with the NL East could be attractive to the Braves, so might his 10.50 K/BB ratio. Eflin is in the second year of a three-year, $40 million contract, so he could help fill out the middle of Atlanta’s rotation next season as well if Charlie Morton opts to retire.

Yusei Kikuchi

If the Blue Jays blow things up, Kikuchi — who is in the final year of his contract — will almost certainly be dealt. Like a lot of the guys on this list, he’s not going to come in and be a frontline starter for the Braves, but he’s more than capable of pitching in a playoff game if called upon. Through 16 starts this season, he boasts an even 4.00 ERA with a 3.52 FIP and 9.3 K/9.

Photo: Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire

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