Just one year after receiving Cy Young votes in an excellent 2022 campaign, the Braves have traded Kyle Wright to the Kansas City Royals. Wright had an injury-riddled 2023 and is set to miss 2024 with a shoulder injury.
The Braves received Jackson Kowar, a 27-year-old right-handed reliever who had a 6.43 ERA and 5.29 FIP this season 28 innings. Kowar was selected in the compensation round in the first round of the 2018 MLB draft and was the 33rd overall pick.
He has pitched across three MLB seasons with Kansas City and has a 9.12 career ERA in 74 innings pitched. While those numbers aren't great, the ERA has lowered every season since he debuted in 2021. Kowar does still have an option remaining according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
The trade certainly comes as a shock but Wright is in his first year of arbitration and expected to make between $1 and $2.3 million. With the former Vanderbilt standout missing the 2024 season, the Braves were probably looking at non-tendering him. Instead, they found a trade partner in Kansas City.
The team may not have been confident about his ability to return to his 2022 form after the injury.
The Braves 2017 first-round pick (fifth overall) had a rocky tenure with Atlanta. Despite first reaching the majors in 2018, Wright didn't stick with the big league club until 2022.
In his first four seasons, Wright had a 6.56 ERA and a 6.56 FIP in 70 innings. He only pitched in two regular season games in 2021, but played a pivotal role in the team's World Series championship, pitching in two World Series games.
His Game 4 outing was exceptional, as he came into the game in the 1st inning and pitched 4.2 innings of one-run ball.
2022 was his breakout campaign, as he started 30 games, pitched 180.1 innings, had a 3.19 ERA (3.58 FIP), and became the Braves first 20-game winner since Russ Ortiz. He also finished 10th in Cy Young voting.
Unfortunately, he couldn't escape the injury bug this past season. He was out from May 4 until September 10 with a shoulder injury and couldn't get right when he did pitch. He finished 2023 with a 6.97 ERA in 31 innings.
Wright finishes his time with the Braves with a 4.45 ERA in 281.1 innings and a 24-16 record. Nearly his entire production with the team came in 2022 (64% of his innings and 87.5% of his wins).
We wish Kyle the best of luck in Kansas City.