5 pitchers the Atlanta Braves could desperately utilize for rotation depth

These arms could be budget options to fill the team's need for pitching depth.

Atlanta Braves v Tampa Bay Rays
Atlanta Braves v Tampa Bay Rays / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages
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Atlanta Braves fans have very little to complain about with a historic 2023 offense running it back and taking early control of the NL East. Yes, the Sean Murphy injury and starting pitching struggles are far from ideal. Not to mention a new injury to Ozzie Albies who has a fractured right big toe. Still, the Braves have found a way to continue to play at a high level and control the division in the early going of the 2024 season.

The biggest concern for the Braves should be their starting pitching. Ace Spencer Strider is lost for the year and Max Fried, Charlie Morton, and Chris Sale have all struggled at different points. The team is also betting on them all remaining healthy. For this team to be the World Series contender they hope to be, you need all three pitchers to get back on track and to find surprise contributors.

Reynaldo López has been one of those surprise contributors going 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA and 18.0 innings pitched in his first three starts. Even if it doesn't last Reynaldo deserves immense credit for being a stabilizing force early on.

Atlanta's minor league depth has struggled as well with Huascar Ynoa and AJ Smith-Shawver off to early rough starts. Darius Vines provided a nice surprise during Monday's game in Houston but he may not be the long-term solution.

With all of this in mind, what desperation options could the Braves look to in the current market?

Cal Quantrill - Trade Target

How early is too soon to give up on the season? The Rockies have won four games this season. The biggest reason for this is their lack of pitching. Cal Quantrill has another season of control left and despite his ugly start could be an attractive trade chip.

What the Braves did in 2021 in the outfield may be required for to fix their pitching depth. Trading for a player like Quantrill would qualify. Cal was a great starting option in the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Could he get his career back on track in Atlanta?

Zack Greinke - Free Agent

It would almost be worth the signing Greinke simply to see him get his 3,000th career strikeout in a Braves uniform. If the veteran was willing to return as a potential depth starter what would the Braves have to lose? Greinke was last season as a professional pitcher was the 2022 season, pitching 137.0 innings with a 3.68 ERA.

Paul Blackburn - Trade Target

This is less of a desperation option and more of a long shot. The Braves have a great recent history of trading for the Athletics' best players. Matt Olson and Sean Murphy trades are examples of big wins the Braves have landed trading with the franchise. Could they continue this formula and target Paul Blackburn?

The Athletics are off to an impressive start but seem to love parting ways with potential franchise guys. Blackburn would be a real fix for this rotation and not just a desperation move. However, with that comes a real cost and likely winning a bidding war closer to the trade deadline.

Johnny Cueto - Free Agent

Johnny Cueto had a great 2022 season with the White Sox. The veteran promptly followed that up with an equally awful 2023 and remains unsigned. Atlanta signing Cueto would be about adding depth and an emergency option. There is nothing in Cueto's last five seasons to suggest he could be a real fix for a contending franchise.

However, his experience and innings pitched would be an asset to have in a depth role or as a potential spot starter.

Noah Syndergaard - Free Agent

Outside of Blackburn, the theme here is the same. Former starters who are coming off of dumpster fire seasons looking to catch on and prove they have something left in the tank. Syndergaard is still only 31 and offered quality innings in the 2022 season.

He is no longer the flame-throwing star he was early on the Mets. However, signing Syndergaard at this point in his career is about adding minor-league depth and hoping the Braves can get a quality spot start or two.

Understanding that these are the best names on the market, Atlanta's lack of moves becomes understandable. The team is easily better off trusting their depth at first and working to find a surprise contributor to this roster.

You aren't going to replace Spencer Strider within the organization, trades, or free agency. The team's best path is trusting their offense and their depth. Adding one of these names not as a desperation move but only to add to their depth of understanding of what this team did last time they lost their best player for the season.

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