What's next for the Atlanta Braves after trading for Chris Sale?

The Atlanta Braves have acquired their splashy starting pitcher Chris Sale. We explore what the next move might be for Alex Anthopoulos and the Atlanta Braves.

Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox
Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox / Brian Fluharty/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves made the splashy move we've all been waiting for this offseason. They sent Vaughn Grissom to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Chris Sale on December 30th. The Red Sox also sent cash to help cover the cost of his contract for the 2024 season. Now that the rotation is stacked four studs deep, we explore what Alex Anthopoulos' next move might be.

The Red Sox are covering $17 million of Sale's $27.5 million next season. It's a great deal for the Braves in terms of pure cost. To get a player of Chris Sale's caliber for $10.5 million is an incredible deal, despite a severe injury history. Luis Severino ($13 million), Jack Flaherty ($14 million), and Frankie Montas ($16 million) are all former big names who have dealt with injuries and struggles over recent years. They all cost more than what the Braves will pay for Chris Sale in 2024 if you exclude the cost of losing Vaughn Grissom.

None of those guys have the resume that the seven-time All-Star (Sale) has. Those seven All-Star selections were consecutive, by the way. Yes, there is a risk with his injury history but on a cost basis, it's a low risk with a high potential reward for the Braves.

The player cost of Vaughn Grissom does leave a hole for the Braves. Grissom presented solid outfield depth with the bat (glove unknown at this point). He also might have had a pathway to playing time should Kelenic struggle out of the gate. Grissom's bat is no joke.

If Chris Sale is healthy and performs like Chris Sale in 2024, the tradeoff is a no-brainer. Even if he doesn't, the risk is worth the tradeoff. Obtaining a quality fourth outfielder is a much easier task than adding a potential ace to the rotation, making it four-deep now.

David Fletcher has logged 164.2 major-league innings in the outfield and, I might say, performed very well. As one of the premier defensive players at one of the hardest positions to play, it's no surprise Fletcher's skills translated well to the outfield. Read more about how David Fletcher could overtake Orlando Arcia at shortstop in 2024.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Dodgers v Seattle Mariners / Stephen Brashear/GettyImages

Jarred Kelenic's struggles could open the door for a plan B

There are still quality options as a fourth outfielder out there. It could be alluring to a player looking for an opportunity. Kelenic has struggled outside of the first two months of last year. In 252 career games, Kelenic's OPS+ is just 85. His career slash line is .204/.283/.373. Kelenic is under contract for the next five years. If he's not ready to contribute this year, then you have to think the Braves won't hesitate to turn the reins over to someone who is.

There is still a long list of veterans who could fill that role. Guys like Eddie Rosario, Tommy Pham, Joc Pederson, Austin Meadows, Joey Gallo, Aaron Hicks, Adam Duvall, Rafael Ortega, Wil Myers, Kevin Pillar, Kole Calhoun, and more.

There are plenty of options available and some of those names could come very cheap. The Braves had one of the greatest offenses in the game's history last season. They did that with Eddie Rosario taking most of the reps in left field while posting a 100 OPS+. The lineup is stacked from top to bottom and they don't necessarily need a world-beater in left. The ideal situation is, of course, that Jarred Kelenic lives up to his potential right out of the gates!

As of now, Forrest Wall is the only other outfielder on the 40-man. Expect the Braves to make a move to add depth and a potential plan B for Jarred Kelenic.

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