The Braves are in desperate need of starting pitching, as I babbled on last week. Over the weekend series with the Nationals, Luke Jackson also reminded everyone last week that this team needs a closer just as bad, if not more, than a starter. The only problem is finding that teams willing to sell their top players.
Despite Kevin Gausman throwing his best game of the season on Sunday, the Braves will still be entrenched in the trade market searching for starting or relief pitchers to improve this staff moving forward. Teams that were thought to be sellers such as Cleveland, San Francisco, might not be so willing to move on from their talent with the playoffs within reach. Will the Braves be able to fill their needs before July 31st?
San Francisco was thought to be a seller all season. Since the Dodgers got off to such an amazing start, burying the Giants in the process, it was assumed league-wide all available talent on the Giants roster would be up for grabs. Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, and Mark Melancon were all expecting to exit before the season. However, the Giants had different plans. Since July, the Giants are 14-3, moving with 2.5 games of the second wild-card spot.
It could be assumed, even with the hot streak the Giants have been on, that this team would find their title chances unrealistic. Nope, not the Giants, the team that went into the postseason as underdogs in 2012 and 2014, only to win the World Series both years. Add in Bruce Bochy’s final year of his Hall of Fame managerial career, and the Giants are a little more unwilling to throw the towel in on the season.
This could all be strategic on the part of the Giants. They could just be telling everyone around the league about their changed intentions to drive the price up for Bumgarner and Smith. It’s possible they could see themselves squeezing out more prospects or major league ready talent from their prospective trading partners. Whatever their plan is, the Giants are doing a good job of keeping the rest of the league guessing.
These smokescreens, real or not, shouldn’t deter the Braves when it comes to making moves. This team will have their untouchables, Christian Pache, Drew Waters, Kyle Wright, and Ian Anderson, but everyone else should be on the table. The Braves are still deep beyond those four players so they shouldn’t have trouble finding ammunition for a deal.
Even if the Giants are taken off the board as trading partners, there still a slew of pitchers the Braves could get their hands on. Marcus Stroman and Ken Giles from Toronto both seem there for the taking. Shane Greene, of the Tigers, is out there. The Arizona Diamondbacks are still in the NL Wild Card race, but all indications point to them moving Zach Grienke if they can. There are moves out there to be made for this Braves team.
The trade deadline is less than two weeks away. With the Braves on the market, along with almost every other team hoping to contend, the pitching market may shrivel up fast. This team needs to focus in on the pitcher they want, and go get him as soon as possible. The Dodgers, Yankees, Astros, Twins, and Nationals are all searching for pitching, too. If Atlanta wants to go from contender to a favorite, they will need to make a move soon.