Two free agents the Braves may have missed out on

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Every offseason, Alex Anthopoulos has a plan and quickly goes about his business executing it. This past offseason was no different, as he attempted to bolster a Braves pitching staff that needed a lot of improvement.

It began with the bullpen, as he inked a couple of his own free agents, signing Pierce Johnson and Joe Jimenez to multi-year contracts. Soon after, Reynaldo Lopez was brought in on a three-year deal. The hard-throwing righty appeared to be another addition to the bullpen, but the Braves had other ideas, giving him another shot as a starting pitcher, a role he’s transitioned to beautifully thus far. Aaron Bummer was also added to the bullpen via trade, and the biggest splash of the offseason was a blockbuster trade with the Red Sox, which brought seven-time All-Star Chris Sale to Atlanta.

Braves fans don’t really have any room to complain right now. Aaron Bummer has faced some bumps in the road, but it’s early. Pierce Johnson and Joe Jimenez have been lights out, Reynaldo Lopez might be the acquisition of the offseason through six weeks, and Chris Sale looks like the guy who was competing for AL Cy Young awards year in and year out five years ago.

Given what it cost to acquire Lopez and Sale, it was a masterclass by Alex Anthopoulos. Starting pitching is so expensive to acquire any time of the year, but Anthopoulos’ ability to find a couple of buy-low candidates ahead of the 2024 campaign should be met with heaps of praise.

However, you can never have enough pitching, and there were a couple of other buy-low candidates on the free agent market that also could have helped put the Braves over the top for pennies.

Luis Severino

Dating back to last season, I was talking about Luis Severino as a target for the Braves in free agency. It just made too much sense, given Alex Anthopoulos’ track record. He doesn’t usually shop for top-of-the-line free agents because of their price tag. Rather he takes chances on guys with high upside who are coming off down seasons.

That’s exactly what happened to Severino. Once the ace of the New York Yankees, injuries cost him essentially three seasons, and when he returned, he was a shell of the pitcher he used to be in 2017-2018. However, the stuff was still evident, and I always felt like he was going to figure it out eventually.

Well, Severino has this season, and to make matters worse, he’s doing it for the Mets. He settled for a one-year, $13 million contract with the Yankees crosstown rivals, and through seven starts, he’s 2-2 with a 2.93 ERA. That would be pretty nice to have in the rotation with Spencer Strider now out for the season.

Jack Flaherty

Unlike Severino, I had Jack Flaherty on my “do not target” list heading into the offseason. I was glad the Braves didn’t, but I’m man enough to admit when I may have been wrong. Flaherty ended up signing for one-year, $14 million with the Detroit Tigers. Through seven starts, he boasts a 3.86 ERA and 2.98 FIP, leading all of baseball with a 12.0 K/9. We will see how sustainable that is, but it’s impressive nonetheless, considering all of the injuries he dealt with from 2020-2022.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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