The Atlanta Braves are in the market for starting pitching and a left fielder this offseason. As of now, the Braves have two question marks in the rotation with a list of unproven names to compete for those spots. Bryce Elder is the most known commodity but he was one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball during the second half of last season.
The Braves are already on target to set a new franchise record in payroll in 2024. With the team in need of a few acquisitions, they are likely in the market for some bargain-bin values.
We've already covered the savings it could provide if they acquire a splashy pitcher via trade. Now, we will take a closer look at free agency. For this, I will turn to MLB Trade Rumors Top 50 Free Agents. However, we scroll down to the bottom and check out their list of honorable mentions for prospective acquisitions. We are shopping at the bottom of the bin.
First, we'll look at some of the names who have signed from the honorable mention list. Kyle Gibson signed with the Cardinals for one year at $12 million. Lance Lynn also signed with the Cardinals for one year and $11 million. Finally, Emilio Pagan signed with the Reds for two years and $16 million.
The remaining starting pitching options wouldn't be long-term solutions, but they could be affordable pieces of quality rotation depth over the next couple of years. I repeat... you can never have enough starting pitching.
3. Hyun Jin Ryu
Hyun Jin Ryu has a career 3.27 ERA over his 10 seasons. He hasn't been healthy the past couple of seasons but he was worth a four-year, $80 million deal to the Blue Jays in 2020. He is entering his age-37 season and might not be a candidate for more than a one-year deal. Maybe an option year makes sense. Ryu has a ton of talent, a superb track record, and a lot to prove.
2. Tommy Pham
Pham has made $6 million in each of the past two seasons. he is entering his age-36 season but could represent an upgrade over Eddie Rosario in left field at an even lower cost than Eddie's $9MM option the Braves declined. Pham would be an upgrade in OPS and his ability to get on base. He has a career .351 OBP over 10 seasons. His legs proved young enough to steal 22 bags in 25 attempts last season. He finished with a .774 OPS between the Mets and the Diamondbacks.
1. Wade Miley
The Milwaukee Brewers signed Miley for $3.5 million last season. He was coming off a shortened 2022 season in which he pitched just 37 innings. He still posted a 3.16 ERA that year. In 2021, he posted a 3.37 ERA over 163.0 innings. He was a tremendous value last year, even though he only pitched 120.1 innings, he still put up a stellar 3.14 ERA. Over the past three seasons, Miley's combined ERA is 3.26 over 320.1 innings.
He isn't a strikeout pitcher at this point in his career. He posted just 5.9 strikeouts per nine innings in 2023. However, Miley keeps walks to a minimum and gets a lot of soft contact. Miley finished in the 83rd percentile in average exit velocity, 75th percentile in groundball rate, and 93rd percentile in hard-hit percentage.
He is entering his age-36 season, which will be his 14th big-league campaign. He has a ton of experience and can pitch. If he stays healthy, he will give the Braves a lot of solid innings. He could be an affordable veteran addition to the rotation in 2024. One thing to keep in mind is Miley declined a $10 million mutual option to hit the open market. This means his camp must believe he can get more money or maybe a couple of years.