The man needs no introduction. Already at a whopping 22 home runs with a .997 OPS to go with his 5 gold gloves (and his platinum glove), the best third baseman in the Senior Circuit is rumored to be on the trading block. Nolan Arenado was recently quoted saying “I don’t want to lose anymore. I just hate it”. Colorado is in arguably the most competitive division in baseball, and as of July 6th, are sitting tied for third place. Their pitching staff has been absolutely abysmal, and their three high priced relief signings of Jake McGee, Wade Davis, and Mike Dunn have earned run averages of 5.58, 4.15, and 9.00 respectively. Their staff ace Jon Gray has just been demoted to AAA after going 7-7 and posting a 5.77 run ERA and a 1.49 WHIP. The lone bright spot on their pitching staff is 8 year vet Adam Ottavino. Ottavino sports an impressive 1.88 ERA, which would be elite anywhere, but at Coors Field is downright unreal. He’s struck out 60 batters in 38.1 innings and would slot nicely into a setup role for Atlanta. The Rockies are a long shot to make the playoffs. Arizona, Los Angeles, and even San Francisco are far more equipped to win the division, while Chicago, St. Louis, Washington, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and your Atlanta Braves are way more primed to clinch their respective divisions and the final 2 wild card spots. Arenado is up for free agency in 2020, if Alex Anthopoulos really wants to push the gas pedal and make Atlanta a World Series threat, he should give Jeff Bridich a call about his star player and lights out setup man.
So what would it take? Let’s not kid ourselves. It would be a ransom of Atlanta’s farm system. However, there is no player in our farm even close to as talented as Arenado, and Ottavino is just gravy. You have to strike when the iron is hot, make no mistake, it won’t be cheap, but it could send Atlanta back to the fall classic for the first time in almost 2 decades. This would also give Atlanta arguably the best infield in all of baseball sans Houston, there isn’t a pitcher in baseball who wouldn’t tremble at the thought of seeing Ozzie-Freddie-Nolan in an inning. Let’s take a look at a potential package:
This is the one that’s going to sting the most, but it’s going to be the starting point for any deal involving Arenado. Colorado (as they usually are) is starving for starting pitching. Soroka is on the 60-day DL with shoulder inflammation, so you have to think the Rocks would be way more interested in Wright; personally, I’d rather keep Wright. Soroka’s ceiling is an elite #2 guy, and I feel like we have 2 or 3 really good #2 guys. Wright is the closest thing we have to an ace in our system. If the Rockies insist on Wright, Anthopoulos shouldn’t be hesitant to part with him. If Carter Stewart chooses not to sign, the Braves can target a college arm with the compensation pick they receive in the 2019 draft, which will sit around #9.
Gohara is obviously oozing with potential, but his injury and inconsistencies mean he’s on the table. Allard is looking awfully impressive in AAA, posting a 2.93 ERA that is actually inflated by a few bad starts. In 92 innings, he’s struck out 71 and only walked 28. Allard is the one we should aim to keep, but nobody is safe in a deal like this.
I take back what I said, Riley is the one I want to give up the least. Austin will have an absolute field day at Coors Field, and if Colton Welker was above High A for Colorado, he might be spared in this deal. However, Bridich will want someone to replace Arenado immediately, and Riley will slide right in when healthy. In Denver, he could be a regular 35+ Home Run threat.
Max Fried is another high upside guy who has struggled with inconsistencies, but his status as a left-handed starter and wipeout curveball is attractive to any club in the league. With his inclusion, Colorado would be receiving a starting third baseman and 3 MLB ready starting pitchers. We saw a little bit of Max at his best when he went 6.2 with 11 strikeouts against the Redbirds last week.
Bryse Wilson or Patrick Weigel–
This one comes down to Bridich’s preference. Wilson is a much safer prospect, a sinkerballer who is still adjusting to life in AA but has been downright dominant before arriving in Mississippi. His ERA by league:
Low A: 2.50
High A: 0.34
He is still a work in progress and projects more as a “high floor” type of guy. Patrick Weigel is a lottery ticket. Coming off of Tommy John Surgery, he has a career 17-11 record with a 3.31 ERA and 269 strikeouts in 271.2 Innings. While both of these guys are big right-handed arms, they’re very different stylistic pitchers, and Colorado can have their pick of either, possibly both.
Looking at Demeritte’s age and .223 average in AA, he’s not a prospect that is going to peak the interest of many teams. However, he’s still 2 years removed from hitting 28 Home Runs in A ball and 15 in AA last year. His bat will play at Coors Field.
Last one, I promise. Sanchez was brought over for Kyle Kubitza in the early stages of the rebuild. He’s only 21 but has been in our system since 2015. He’s a left-handed starter who throws absolute gas but has had trouble with command in the past. He’s another lottery ticket who could get Colorado to bite on a deal.
In return along with Ottavino & Arenado, Atlanta could ask about Forrest Wall. Once highly thought of in Colorado’s system, injuries and terrible defense have led to him not being able to crack the MLB roster. He’s hitting .305 in High A at 22 with 20 stolen bases, but his defensive abilities will restrict him to left field or 2nd base, where the Rockies already have DJ LeMahieu and David Dahl respectively. Wall is ranked as their #13 prospect.
So let’s summarize the deal, if I’m Alex Anthopoulos, my offer to Colorado is:
RHP Mike Soroka, LHP Luiz Gohara, 3B Austin Riley, LHP Max Fried, RHP Bryse Wilson, UTIL Travis Demeritte, & LHP Ricardo Sanchez
3B Nolan Arenado, RHP Adam Ottavino, OF Forrest Wall
It’s time for the seeds John Coppolella planted to be harvested. Even after this move, Atlanta would still have an embarrassment of riches in the system while also clearing out the logjam in the minors. Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson, Kolby Allard, Touki Toussaint, Joey Wentz, and Kyle Muller would still all be hanging around, and no, Cristian Pache isn’t included in this deal either. I think this is a fair offer for both teams, and if Colorado begins to slip in the standings, Atlanta should pick up the phone before someone else does.