Mark Bowman, of MLB.com, has reported that the Braves will let the trade market take shape while seeing how Max Fried and Kevin Gausman look in their next outings before deciding on who to target as trade targets. Showing patience is the correct move for the Atlanta Braves moving forward.
Max Fried has been on the 10-day IL since a blister on his throwing hand saw him exit his last start early. Since then, the blister has been healing well from all reports. If the healing continues to track normally, Fried will be back in the starting rotation this Sunday for the Philadelphia Phillies series.
Kevin Gausman, who went on the IL for a foot injury in mid-June, made his first start Sunday against the Washington Nationals. Gausman looked great in his start, reminding Braves fans of what he looked like last season after coming to the team in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles. It was thought Gausman would be moved to the bullpen, but after such a good start, the Braves plan to keep Gausman in the rotation.
Showing patience when it comes to the trade market is wise, but also becoming a necessity. The more San Francisco wins the more likely they are to move from their top tier players. Taking Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith off the market is a blow for the Braves, but not a knockout. This means the Braves will likely focus their energy on Marcus Stroman, Shane Greene, and Ken Giles, all very capable pitchers.
Another factor of the trade market shrinking to consider is the inflating asking prices. The Braves have a stockpile of talent, prospects and major-league players, to get the deals done. However, that does not mean the Braves should be overpaying for lesser talent or rentals. Showing patience by letting other teams like the Yankees and Nationals set the market is a wise play from Alex Anthopoulos and the rest of the front office.
In my opinion, no matter how good Fried and Gausman look in their next starts, the Braves still need pitching help. Last night, against the Royals, Dallas Keuchel pitched a gem of a game only to have Anthony Swarzak give up the lead after the Braves tied the game. Swarzak, a midseason acquisition, has been stellar for the Braves since joining the team but showed last night that he’s still human. The focus needs to remain to find a closer and one more set-up guy. The Braves have a good base in with Swarzak and Sean Newcomb, however, that won’t be enough come postseason time.
As of today, a playoff rotation for the Braves would be Mike Soroka, Dallas Keuchel, Max Fried, and it’s a toss-up between Julio Teheran and Kevin Gausman, depending on who pitches better down the stretch. That’s not a bad rotation but it looks top-heavy. Getting a pitcher like Marcus Stroman or Matthew Boyd could put this rotation over the top. Those two teams, the Tigers and Blue Jays, also have bullpen guys the Braves would be interested in. I could see the Braves solving a lot of their issues with one big trade with one of those two teams.
Even with the shrinking trade market, I fully expect this Braves roster to look different after next week’s deadline. It’s not easy to predict who the Braves will partner up with, but it’s a good bet they have someone in mind already. Being patience is never a bad move, especially since the patience play has already worked for the Braves this season with Dallas Keuchel.