The Atlanta Braves haven't been shy about making changes to their roster this offseason. They've non-tendered a good amount of players, made a significant trade with the White Sox, and signed a flamethrowing reliever to get things started.
However, Atlanta still has to fulfill their need for quality starting pitching. The question at the time is more on when they will add a starter and not if. Who will that choice be? That remains unclear.
The Braves are seen as favorites to land Sonny Gray who would be a great fit for the rotation. They just missed out on signing Aaron Nola as he signed a 7-year contract with the Phillies. Atlanta was rumored to have offered 6-years around $162 million but that has yet to be confirmed.
As mentioned above, Gray would still be just as good of a move as landing Nola. However, a good front office doesn't just consider one option, they look at everything available.
There is another pitcher that Atlanta had an interest in before the 2023 trade deadline, who would be a great addition. Eduardo Rodriguez was rumored to be on the Braves' radar for a trade last July. At one point, Rodriguez had been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers but he ended up vetoing that trade.
Eduardo completed the 2023 season with the Detroit Tigers after completing 152.2 innings and garnering a 3.30 ERA. He walked 43 batters while striking out 148 of them. That was the best ERA of his 8-year career so far.
He spent the first 6 seasons of his career with the Red Sox so there's a chance they could look to bring him back as Rodriguez made it known he'd like to be on the East Coast to be closer to family. However, the Braves are an amazing fit as well.
E-Rod was technically scheduled to be with the Tigers again in 2024 but he opted out of the deal at season's end.
The southpaw could be a great target for the Braves as he offers a good pitch mix and gives them another lefty option outside of Fried. There's also the appeal that he could remain with the team after 2024 if an extension for Fried doesn't work out, giving them a quality left-handed starting option.
Rodriguez carries a five-pitch mix including a 4-seam fastball (45.4%), cutter (19.3%), changeup (18.9%), sinker (9.3%), and slider (7.2%). His fastball isn't going to blow anyone away but it sits at an average of 92.2 mph usually.
He's not ace material but he is a perfect middle-of-the-rotation piece to slot in behind Max Fried and Spencer Strider.
Before opting out of his deal with Detroit, Rodriguez had 3-years and $49 million remaining so it's safe to assume he will be seeking a deal in a similar range. That deal would have placed E-Rod in the average annual value (AAV) range of around $16 million.
Atlanta could look at doing a 4-year/$72 million deal for the talented lefty which would put the AAV at $18 million. That seems like a fair cost for a 30-year-old pitcher with the talent that Rodriguez possesses.
As I said, he's not the household name that many would expect but he checks all the boxes for the Braves. He would be joining a team with an amazing clubhouse culture which seems to be a major selling point for free agents that decide to come to Atlanta.
However, the Braves are unlikely to be the only team looking to add his services. So, they'll have to make a good pitch if they hope to land the talented Venezuelan native. AA has shown the ability to know what the right move to make is so if the deal feels right, he will make it happen.
Keep your eyes on House That Hank Built as we prepare for a busy offseason.
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