It became pretty clear this postseason that Atlanta has a severe need for another frontline starter. Mike Soroka and Max Fried are amazing pitchers, but there’s a lack of a #1 guy. We thought that was Dallas Keuchel, but he was pretty uninspiring during his postseason performance. It doesn’t seem like Atlanta is going to spend big on Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, so what are the real options for acquiring an ace? The market isn’t exactly flush with terrible teams who control a star pitcher that could require a haul of prospects, so let’s check out what’s out there.
Note: These compensation packages are rough estimates. They could be more or less.
Mets Trade: Jacob deGrom
Braves Trade: Cristian Pache & Ian Anderson
This one makes me queasy just thinking about it. It’s been discussed a handful of times around the offseason, and I could probably stomach this deal if deGrom played for almost any other team in the majors. Anderson is going to be a dominant force, and Pache is very special. The Mets would also not be keen on facing their former star 2-3 times a season. On top of that, it seems New York is going to take another crack at being contenders with an older and expensive roster. A rotation of Stroman, Syndergaard, and deGrom could be the best in the playoffs (if they ever make it).
Verdict: Not likely, very risky deal for both sides.
Indians Trade: Corey Kluber
Braves Trade: SP Kyle Muller, SP Kyle Wright, C William Contreras
Indians Trade: Mike Clevenger or Shane Bieber
Braves Trade: OF Drew Waters, SP Ian Anderson, SP Kyle Wright
I don’t love this one either. Cleveland has three potential aces: Clevinger and Bieber are bonafide studs, and Kluber has been unhittable at times. Just to give a point of reference:
Kluber 2019: 2-3, 5.80 ERA in 25.2 IP over 7 Starts with 38 K
Kluber Career: 98-58, 3.16 ERA in 1341.2 IP over 203 Starts with 1461 K
Clevinger 2019: 13-4, 2.71 ERA in 126 IP over 21 Starts with 169 K
Clevinger Career: 41-21, 3.20 ERA in 500.2 IP over 84 Starts with 563 K
Bieber 2019: 15-8, 3.28 ERA in 214.1 IP over 33 Starts with 259 K
Bieber Career: 26-13, 3.72 ERA in 329 IP over 52 Starts with 377 K
The Kluber one is the only one I’d seriously consider if I were Atlanta, the rest would cost too much. My scenario is likely too little compensation to get him out of Cleveland. Losing Kluber for most of 2019 was the reason the Indians missed the playoffs by a narrow margin. I still think this roster is very competitive, and they’re going to take another crack at the playoffs. Like the Mets, a three-headed monster of Kluber, Clevinger, and Bieber is scary to even the most potent lineup. If Cleveland misses the playoffs next season, this conversation should heat up, and the price tag will come down. Mike Clevinger is an absolute stud that nobody talks about.
Verdict: Not likely, not the right time for the Indians and a potential overpay for Atlanta.
Reds Trade: Luis Castillo, Tucker Barnhart, & Amir Garrett
Braves Trade: Kyle Wright, Cristian Pache, Bryse Wilson, William Contreras & Touki Toussaint
I’m very interested in the concept of this deal, and it’s the main reason I wrote this article. Luis Castillo has been overlooked in the MLB over his three seasons, but check out these statistics:
Castillo 2017: 3.12 ERA, 98 K in 89.1 IP
Castillo 2018: 4.30 ERA, 165 K in 169.2 IP
Castillo 2019: 3.40 ERA, 226 K in 190.2 IP (10.7 K/9)
Pache seems like a steep price to pay, but these numbers should be taken at surface level. Castillo has some of the nastiest stuff in the majors, and I think he’ll be contending for a Cy Young in 2020. He’s armed with one of the filthiest changeups I’ve ever seen, and I’ve said multiple times I want Barnhart on this club as the primary backstop. He’s young, has hit well in the past, plays lockdown defense and has experience at 1st base. In a thin market, he’s a great option. Amir Garrett is a big lefty with a powerful fastball; he fills the need the Braves have for a lefty out of the pen to pair with Will Smith if Newcomb moves back into the rotation. Castillo and Garrett are under control until 2024 and Barnhart is signed through 2021. This trade would cost a lot but makes sense for both teams. It fills almost all of the Braves offseason needs with one move while leaving room to sign Josh Donaldson. Waters will be ready very soon, and a Riley/Acuña/Waters outfield could be the future. Losing a top prospect like Pache will be gut-wrenching, but it’s a necessary evil when considering the window that is wide open for the Braves to contend now.
Verdict: Get it done.