Atlanta Braves: Preliminary Look At Trade Targets

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 03: A general view of the inside of Truist Park as the New York Mets take on the Atlanta Braves in the fourth inning of an MLB game at Truist Park on August 3, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 03: A general view of the inside of Truist Park as the New York Mets take on the Atlanta Braves in the fourth inning of an MLB game at Truist Park on August 3, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
2 of 4
Atlanta Braves
Matthew Boyd is a perfect trade target (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Braves do have some teams that lineup very nicely as trade candidates for their starting rotation.

It is important to note that, while a front end starter is always wanted, a mid-tier rotation piece would also make a huge difference in the Atlanta Braves rotation at this point. With that in mind, here are a few that make too much sense not to pursue.

Matthew Boyd (Detroit Tigers)

This trade just makes too much sense. Matthew Boyd is on a very bad Tigers team who are in the midst of a rebuild. He is a free agent at the end of 2022, and unless the Tigers extend him, he will not be on the team when they are competitive again. The Tigers are close to finishing up their rebuild with a farm system ranked #2 according to MLB Pipeline.

The Atlanta Braves have the 15th ranked farm system with some talent that is very close to being MLB ready. The Tigers could expedite their rebuild by adding some prospects that will only cost them a year and a half of Boyd. On the Braves side of things, their will surely be a bidding war for Boyd’s services, but with him only having a year and a half left, he would not cost near as much in prospect capital as someone like Spencer Turnbull who is still under team control through 2024.

Mathew Boyd is having an excellent year with a 1.7 WAR season to this point, and a 174 ERA+ (74 percent better than league average at preventing runs), so he won’t be cheap, but he also has never had a season better than 103 ERA+.

The Tigers already lost out twice when they should have traded Michael Fulmer and Matthew Boyd in the past when their value was at an all-time high. Look for them not to make that mistake again.

Tyler Anderson (Pittsburgh Pirates)

Anderson is the prototypical trade deadline contract that is traded. He is a free agent after the year, and is having the second best year of his career. Odds are that the Pirates picked Anderson up with the main goal of flipping him at the deadline if he performed well, which he has.

This year, Anderson has already pitched to a 1.0 WAR. For reference, the Atlanta Rotation has pitched to a combined 2.9 WAR. Anderson also has pitched to a 117 ERA+, has done well in the WHIP department at 1.101, and has done well at not walking too many batters at 2.7 walks per 9 innings pitched.

Like many other teams on this list, the Pirates will most likely be sellers given that they overall are not a good team by MLB standards. Anderson will not be on the team when they compete again, unless they extend him of course.

Anderson would not be the piece that puts the Braves over the top, but his cost also would not reflect that either. If Anderson happens to flop, the Braves would only be on the hook for one year. He would be instant rotation depth at low risk.

Michael Pineda (Minnesota Twins)

Pineda is another rotation piece that would be theoretically low cost due to him being a rental. We do not know what the Twins will do at the deadline, but at the rate they are playing, it would sense for them to sell of their rental pieces that won’t be with them next year.

The Twins look like a good team on paper, so odds are that they won’t blow up their roster and go for a rebuild, but fully expect them to do some sort of retooling if they don’t start winning a bunch of games.

Pineda is having a very good year with 0.6 WAR, 2.79 ERA (143 ERA+), and a very low 1.009 WHIP. His FIP suggests that he is in line for some regression, but he is still performing well enough to be a solid addition to any rotation.

The Atlanta Braves could benefit from the added rotation depth that Pineda could provide if the trade package is correct. The Twins currently sit 12th in the farm system rankings, so they are not in desperate need to replenish their minor league depth, but if they are not going to win this year, they might as well get something out of Pineda.

Kyle Gibson (Texas Rangers)

Kyle Gibson is an interesting case. He is having the best year of his career thus far and still has another full year on his contract. He is pitching to a 2.1 WAR, 2.32 ERA (189 ERA+), and 1.012 WHIP. He is walking less people than ever before, and has only given up 3 home runs all year. His FIP is insanely low at 3.23 suggesting that if he pitches at the same rate, that he will continue to be successful.

The downfall is much like Matthew Boyd in that his past record is not that great. Since 2013 he has only been above average at preventing runs 3 times, and all the other years he was below average. Before 2021 his last year with an ERA+ over 100 was 2018.

The Rangers appear to not be contending this year, although there is still time left before the deadline. Gibson should be their main trade asset if they do decide to sell. The Rangers have a bad farm system at 21st.

The Braves could benefit from adding a potential mid to front end starter that does not cost a lot of money. Gibson is owed the prorated amount of 10 million dollars through this year, and 7 million next year.

Much like the other pitchers on this list, he would not be a savior by any means, but he could help add some much needed help. To this point, he has outperformed every Atlanta starter this year.

Jon Gray (Colorado Rockies)

Jon Gray is another pitcher that falls into the Anderson and Pineda mold. He is on a bad team that will most likely be sellers, and he is a free agent at the end of the year.

If the Rockies do not trade Gray, it will be a travesty to their fans, themselves, and for baseball. Ok, that was a bit dramatic, but it would be extremely odd if they did not move him. He is the ideal trade candidate and could help replenish the 27th ranked farm system of the Rockies.

It is always hard to judge a pitcher that pitches at Coors Field for have his games, but even if his numbers stay the same, he would be an instant upgrade to the Atlanta Braves rotation.

He currently sports a 1.4 WAR, 3.48 ERA (132 ERA+), 1.258 WHIP, and has somehow only allowed 5 home runs in 9 starts when his home park is Coors Field. Not only is Jon Gray pitching like a staff ace for the Rockies this year, he has a solid track record of a 108 ERA+ while spending his whole career in Colorado.

Of all the impending free agent starting pitchers, Gray may be the most expensive when it comes to trade packages, but the Atlanta Braves should definitely do more than just kick the tires on the possibility of adding Gray.