July 23, 2024

Braves Pitching Dilemma: Trade the Future or Develop it - Sports Illustrated Atlanta Braves News, Analysis and More

The short-term benefit of acquiring a starting pitcher through trade this offseason might not outweigh the long-term costs for the Atlanta Braves.

The short-term benefit of acquiring a starting pitcher through trade this offseason might not outweigh the long-term costs for the Atlanta Braves.

You always have to worry about whether a big trade you make that sends off your best prospects will come back to haunt you. Thinking about the haul they gave up for Mark Teixeira still bothers some Braves. The J.D. Drew trade, which sent Hall of Fame pitcher Adam Wainwright to the St. Louis Cardinals, is another story entirely.

And while we now reflect on what we lost, some people overlook the fact that J.D. Drew led the Braves to the postseason in 2004 with a season akin to MVP.

Tex spent parts of two seasons with the Braves, where he had a.943 OPS. Sadly, he was traded for Casey Kotchman at the 2008 trade deadline after failing to lead the team to the postseason in 2007.

The Braves are confronted with the age-old conundrum that all general managers encounter: should they prioritize building for the future over short-term gain? The Braves are in dire need of assistance in the starting rotation both now and after the 2024 season.

The Braves should be ready to throw everything on the line because they are clearly in a position to win.

The Braves should be ready to throw everything on the line because they are clearly in a position to win.

However, it goes a little further than that in terms of the initial rotation.

Pitchers are so erratic that there’s a good chance you might get very little out of them and lose them in a year or two if you traded for a Corbin Burnes or Dylan Cease.

Hurston Waldrep and AJ Smith-Shawver would probably need to be sent in exchange for one of those starters if the Braves were to acquire one of them. These are the two best pitching prospects for the Braves; they have already reached the upper levels and are poised to have a significant impact in the major leagues.

Additionally, the tops of the rotation arms on both of them have fairly high ceilings. The Braves haven’t had players in their system quite like this in a while, so it’s been a while since then.

Naturally, my controversial statement about pitchers still applies to pitching prospects. It is not a given that Waldrep or Smith-Shawver will realize their full potential.

You’ll find yourself back in the same situation in a few years if you can’t sign a starter via trade, as the Dodgers did with Tyler Glasnow.

The Braves have Max Fried and Spencer Strider at the top of their rotation for 2024. It is not as urgent to make a move for a frontline starter as it will be after 2024.

Allowing Smith-Shawver, Waldrep, and other players like Bryce Elder, Darius Vines, Huascar Ynoa, and Ian Anderson to continue developing in 2024 and then reevaluating at the deadline might make more sense.

The rotation will be in much better shape if two of those players unexpectedly show up prepared to take Fried and Charlie Morton’s places after 2024.

If that doesn’t work out, though, you’ll basically have to go out and either make a major trade during the season or get ready to shell out a lot of cash in the offseason when there should be a number of quality free agent starters available.

Right now, pitching free agent costs are so high that it appears that Alex Anthopoulos would be better off making a trade.

He must also think about whether the players he is trading for could be just as good as the player he is trading for in a year or two, in addition to weighing those trades and who he might have to give up.

One of the greatest at balancing the present and the future is Anthopoulos. Not a single prospect he has traded has ever returned to hurt the Braves.

This next move is even more crucial because moving Smith-Shawver and/or Waldrep might be the first time we see that happen.

 

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