Major League Baseball is filled with some bloody awful teams. As of Monday night, there are 5 teams that are on pace for 100 losses. The last time that happened in baseball was never. The split in the elite teams and the awful teams are getting bigger and if we’re being honest, it’s a real problem. There are too many teams that, due to financial constraints, have to sell off their assets at the first sign of a poor season. Or like the Tampa Bay Rays, no matter the outcome of the previous season, there’s a fire sale of players nearly every offseason and players that are on the verge of making actual money are dealt to allow cheap players in the pipeline to take their spots. The ferocity of those moves have made the Rays competitive year after year, but it’s also made them very hard to root for as there’s such a large turnover of faces on a regular basis.
It’s quite apparent the teams that are already out of postseason contention, especially in the AL where the splits between the best and worst are so astronomical that one could likely put good $ on the 5 teams that will make the playoffs and at least get 4 correct (my $ would be on the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Twins, and Astros). Without a doubt, AL teams like the Blue Jays, Orioles, Tigers, Royals, and Mariners are likely ready for business.
The NL looks a little different because there are so many teams hovering around the .500 mark and some teams like the Nationals that have an abundant amount of talent, but are underperforming. Regardless, there are still 3 teams that are likely ready to see what teams would pay for their most prized (or expiring) assets and those 3 are the Marlins, Giants, and Reds.
Final Qualified Trading Partners:
Blue Jays, Orioles, Tigers, Royals, Mariners, Marlins, Giants, Reds
Positions to Fill
Unless an injury pops up, I cannot imagine that the Braves will be looking to add anything on the offensive side. Pitching, especially back-end bullpen pitching, seems to be the largest need. However, it wouldn’t shock me to see a bold move for a starting pitcher that could aid in a postseason run. So the 2 positions we’re looking to fill in this exercise is a relief pitcher and a starting pitcher. Today, we will focus on the Starting Pitcher candidates that are producing at a level considered to be a 1 or 2 in a 5-man rotation.
Starting Pitching Targets
Matthew Boyd (Detroit Tigers)- Team controlled through 2022.
Boyd is a LH with a great fastball and slider. Peripherals suggest that he could turn into an elite SP should he keep the ball in the park. Ground ball rate is good, K-rate is nearly 12 per 9 and walk rate is below 2 per 9.With the years of control he’ll cost a ton, but I cannot imagine the Tigers think their window of opportunity is in the 3-year range.
Tanner Roark (Cincinnati Reds)- Free Agent in 2020.
Not a sexy option, but is durable and finding added success by keeping the ball in the park, which is doubly odd considering his home park is a bandbox. Roark has doubled the usage of his slider and it’s been a plus pitch so far. Since he’ll be a FA after this year, the Reds will likely be extra motivated to move him.
Sonny Gray (Cincinnati Reds)- Team controlled through ‘22 with an option for ‘23.
Fresh off a team-friendly offseason extension, Gray is controlled through 2022 with an option for ‘23. He’s ditched pitches that he felt forced upon him while wearing the pinstripes and it’s made quite a difference. Fastball, slider, and curve make up most of his arsenal and have been plus pitches in 2019. His ground-ball rate is above 50% and that would seemingly work well in a Braves uniform. I cannot imagine he’d be available as it’d look really bad on the Reds for them to trade him after extending him, but if he were, he’d be a good target.
Marcus Stroman (Toronto Blue Jays)- Team controlled through 2020.
Known as a fierce competitor, Stroman is seemingly back to form and is ready to move on from Toronto. Strikeouts have never been his calling card but he’s good at keeping hitters off balance and keeping the ball on the dirt (career 60% GB-rate), which should fit in nicely with the Braves. If the Blue Jays don’t cash in on Stro this deadline, they’re downright foolish. He constantly plays with his pitch selection but has all but ditched the slider and has double his curveball usage and it seems to be working.
Luis Castillo (Cincinnati Reds)- Team controlled through 2022.
Another Reds pitcher and another guy that has huge ground-ball rates, Castillo is breaking through with his big fastball, a good sinker, and one of the best changeups in the game. As with Gray, I cannot imagine he’s available, but if he were, it’d cost an exorbitant amount.
Spencer Turnbull (Detroit Tigers)- Team controlled through 2025.
If Detroit wants to trade a player that was considered a bit of an afterthought turned good MLB pitcher, Spencer Turnbull is that guy. He’s got a Brandon Beachy feel to him as his arm seems to be held together by duct tape and willpower. Normally, guys this young that pitch so well stick around with 1 team for a while, but Turnbull would be a big time sell high, cashing in on great ground-ball rate. Feels like 2016’s Michael Fulmer and we all know how that ended.
Pablo Lopez (Miami Marlins)- Team controlled through 2025.
The Marlins are doing something right with their young starters as many are thriving this year and Pablo Lopez is leading that charge. Lopez is a 4-pitch pitcher that spreads them out pretty evenly and gets ground balls at a near 50% clip. With the team control, and the idea of being inside the division, the likelihood of Lopez being made available to the Braves is likely near 0%.
Brad Keller (Kansas City Royals)- Team controlled through 2023.
Stop me if you’ve heard this, but Keller is another GB pitcher that would fit well with the Braves. He’s a 3-pitch guy but his go to is a hard slider. There’s a lot of contact here, and he doesn’t strike out many but the result cannot be denied. Like Lopez, I don’t foresee the Royals trading Keller, especially considering the return would likely be underwhelming.
Marco Gonzalez (Seattle Mariners)- Team controlled through 2023.
I’ve got a good friend that’s a Mariners fan and he has absolutely no idea how Gonzalez is successful. He barely breaks 90, throws a ton of pitches just to get to the 6th inning, yet when it’s done, he’s put up a decent start. Sound familiar? Yes, he’s Seattle’s Julio Teheran. With a 5-pitch mix that’s nearly evenly distributed, he changes speeds, moves in and out of the zone, and imbalance is the calling card. Dipoto would trade his kids if it were a good deal, so no one wearing a Mariners uniform is safe.
Madison Bumgarner (San Francisco Giants)- Free Agent after 2019.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Bumgarner isn’t the starter that ran 6 straight years of 200+ innings and ~3 ERA baseball, but he’s still good…and fiercely competitive. The Giants will no doubtedly trade him and I’m sure he’d love to go to the Braves, but is he a good fit? I cannot imagine he would be. This team is fun. This team is boisterous. This team is a bit obnoxious. Those are things he doesn’t like, but he is a southern boy and it’s well known he’d like to pitch for the Braves. It’d likely cost 1 good prospect in return and a few lottery inserts, but it could come with a window of negotiation for an extension since he’s creatively put contenders on his no trade to induce said discussion. We’ll see, but he makes 3 guys on this top-10 that are near 100% likely to get traded.
Who’s your choice of these 10? Or do you have someone else in mind? Let’s hear your thoughts! Thanks for reading, and….
Long live, Braves Journal!