If you asked most neutral observers before the 2023 season, they would have probably told you that Atlanta exercising Collin McHugh's $6 million option for next season was a mortal lock. He was tremendous for the Braves in 2022 with a 2.60 ERA with encouraging peripherals and he could pitch multiple innings if need be. Getting anywhere close to that for $6 million is a no-brainer.
However, that is decidedly not how things went in 2023 and his future with the Braves is in question as a result. Not only was McHugh rough when he was on the mound with a 4.30 ERA in 41 appearances while seeing his strikeout and walk rates head in the wrong direction, but he also dealt with shoulder issues off and on throughout the 2023 season.
As good as McHugh was last year, the reality is that relievers are the most volatile commodity in baseball and Collin is 36 years old and coming off a bad, injury-riddled season. Maybe he can bounce back and be close to what he was, but Atlanta can't bank on that happening at this stage of his career. With the free agent and trade markets likely to have a bunch of interesting relief options available, the Braves need to move on here unless he is willing to come back on a cheaper, non-guaranteed deal.