The Braves still have a ton of moves on the horizon before the start of spring training. One of the most intriguing questions is what will happen to Julio Teheran. The 27-year old pitcher from Colombia made his major league debut for Atlanta as a 20-year old all the way back in 2010. By 2013, he was a 22-year old progressing into the type of pitcher you could build you staff around. Unfortunately, he has not been able to maintain that level of play, proving to be far too inconsistent to lead a rotation.
Atlanta considered dealing him several times in the midst of their rebuild but opted to hold on, making him one of the few pieces still remaining from the team that won the division in 2013. Now that they are finally NL East champions again, the Braves have to be regretting that decision.
Teheran has a place in this league. He can still give you an ERA in between three and four, win double digit games and provide veteran leadership, but he never developed in to what many thought he would be. Their were plenty of teams vying for his services a few years back, not only because of his talent, but because of the manageable contract the Braves were able to sign him to. Controllable pitching will always have value in the MLB, and that is really what Atlanta has lost with Teheran over these last couple years.
Teheran only has two years left of control remaining, and after two subpar seasons, is not going to attract very much in return on the trade market.
With that being said, there are no guarantees Teheran will even have a spot in the Braves’ rotation in 2019. The Braves already have three guys that figure to be locks for opening day (Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb and Kevin Gausman). There is still the opportunity for Alex Anthopoulos to make a move this offseason for another arm to bolster the group (He has let the media know he plans to do so), and even if he does not, Atlanta has a logjam of major-league ready prospects nipping at the bit to become full-time starters.
It is clear the best time to trade Teheran is long gone, but that does not mean the Braves should continue to hold on in hopes of some type of resurgence. He has lost miles on his fastball, gives up way too many home runs and even become prone to walk batters over the last two seasons.
There is something to be said about having a veteran that can coach up all these young arms and pitch in tough situations. The Braves do not have anyone like that right now besides Teheran. There is also the fact that despite the miles on his arm in the major leagues, he is still only 27 years old. Another sub-3 ERA and fifteen win season could be knocking on the door. It is risky trading Teheran and having Folty become the most reliable and tenured pitcher on the staff. Let’s not act like he has been the epitome of consistency himself.
However, it is time for the Braves to take their chances and pull the trigger. Even with all the question marks up an down the pitching staff last year, Teheran still could not be trusted to pitch in the postseason. The Braves opted to go with the younger arms because they are the future. They needed that experience. Teheran, well, his best years in Atlanta are long gone.
The offseason moves so far signify one thing: It is win-now time in Atlanta. This organization’s focus has turned from simply making the playoffs to World Series. If Teheran, a pitcher who is no longer progressing, couldn’t make it on this staff last year, he’s certainly not going to be a part of the conversation next October. I do not see much reason to the Braves trying to hold onto him for one more year.