The Braves need to trade for Shane Bieber
The starting pitching free agent market is in a really weird place right now. There are some really strong names still available like Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, but that market is essentially frozen until Shohei Ohtani and/or Yoshinobu Yamamoto decide where they are going to play. It does sound like Ohtani should be (hopefully) making a decision pretty soon, but Yamamoto isn't even visiting teams in person until next week.
Given the prices that the top free agent names are expected to get this offseason in addition to the lack of activity right now, the trade market remains the Braves best option. Atlanta has been rumored to be targeting Dylan Cease this offseason, but the White Sox's asking price remains high and they are going to be playing hard to get as they wait for teams who miss out on the top free agent starters to enter the fray.
Tyler Glasnow could be an option and there is a connection to the Braves, but the $25 million he is owed combined with his injury history and his status as a rental makes that feel like a stretch. However, one name that is rather interesting on the trade market is Shane Bieber who the Guardians have been listening and who could be exactly the kind of arm the Braves are looking for.
The good news with Bieber is that he would be a significantly lesser hit on the Braves' 2024 payroll than a guy like Glasnow as he is entering his last year of arbitration. He also has a lengthy track record of success including winning the Cy Young in 2020 and pitching extremely well in 2022 where he posted a 2.88 ERA in 31 starts. Word has also gotten out that Bieber is willing to sign an extension in the event that he is traded which is right in AA's wheelhouse.
There is some cause for concern with Bieber, however, He is coming off a down 2023 season where he had some elbow trouble that cost him some playing time. His 3.80 ERA last year was the worst mark he has posted since his 2018 rookie season and his strikeout rate has been heading in the wrong direction the last couple of years. Assuming his medicals check out, the Braves should still look long and hard at him, but a certain amount of caution is obviously wise especially if Cleveland's asking price is high for the rental starter.