The Atlanta Braves have certainly made some noise at the Winter Meetings this week. Arguably one of the biggest actual moves to come out of the meetings to this point was the deal the Braves struck with the Mariners to land Jarred Kelenic among others. However, the one thing they haven't really done is address their biggest need with the rotation (no, Marco Gonzales does not count).
Speculation has run rampant when it comes to Atlanta's need for a starter this offseason. Some hoped that the team would enter the chase for Yoshinobu Yamamoto (they should) while many others seem to think that trade targets like Dylan Cease or Shane Bieber are more likely. However, one name that hasn't been batted around too much has been Seth Lugo who was in the Padres rotation in 2023.
Well, as it turns out, it sounds like the Braves are, in fact, looking pretty closely at him.
Braves interested in free agent starter Seth Lugo
On the surface, the fit between Lugo and the Braves is a weird one. Atlanta is already attempting to convert the recently signed Reynaldo Lopez back into a starter and Lugo is a guy who made that same transition in 2023 in San Diego to mixed results. Sure, he posted a perfectly reasonable 3.57 ERA while throwing a bunch of strikes, but his strikeout numbers diminished significantly as a starter and he hasn't posted a FIP lower than 3.76 since 2019 which isn't great.
However, what Lugo DOES have is a curve ball with a ton of upside. The pitch didn't perform well in 2023 when you look at his Statcast page, but before last year when he was primarily a reliever, it was excellent. IF the Braves think they can get more value out of Lugo's breaker again AND he can still keep up the results from his fastball that he had last season, there is a lot of value in him. Worst case scenario, you can turn him back into a reliever and he would probably be pretty good.
The early estimates on a Lugo deal have sat in the two year, $20 million range and for a guy that has good stuff and hasn't tapped into his full potential as a starter again, that feels like a worthy gamble assuming the bidding doesn't get too crazy.