Is this the year where the Braves go after a top-tier starter? I’m not sure, but it won’t stop me from spilling way too manY words on the idea.
Don’t look too deep into my classifications of Top Rotation/Mid-Rotation guys. I feel like I’m placing these guys where the market is going to place them and it’s merely my judgment on the matter.
Madison Bumgarner (30)- I’m no DOB, and I’m not convinced that Bumgarner is near an ace anymore, but he does reside in Braves Country, and maybe he’ll want to come to the Braves. Still, gonna pay for the name.
Gerrit Cole (29)- The trophy of the offseason. Cole has become other worldly since becoming an Astro and will likely demand an AAV of 30MM and, at the least, a 6 year deal. He’s a west coaster, so in all likelihood, I think he’ll want to land out there. My opinion? Tyler Flowers will win an MVP before Gerrit Cole becomes a Brave.
Cole Hamels (36)- Hamels has settled into his mid-30s as a 2.5ish WAR player and that holds value. He’s still getting groundballs at a high rate and could have enough left in the tank to have 1 more great season, but like Bumgarner, betting on that would be a risk.
Jake Odorizzi (30)- Now I find Odorizzi very interesting. He pushed the velo of his FB up and it became a downright nasty pitch in 2019. He put up a career year at the right time.
Michael Pineda (30)- Pineda…I’m also VERY interested in Pineda. Coming back from Tommy John, he had some inconsistencies to start the season, but by mid-May on, he was the best he’s ever been (93 IP, 96K, 17BB, 3.19 ERA), and was cruising until he was hit with a suspension. The suspension (80 games) was for Hydrochlorothiazide, which is used to either lose weight or mask other drugs. He claimed he was taking it to lose weight, and apparently he convinced the arbitrator enough to knock his suspension down to 60 games. He’ll miss the first 39 games of the year, which would likely mean he’ll be looking for a 1-year “prove it” deal. If I were AA, I’d seriously consider letting him prove it in Atlanta, which would also allow a prospect to “prove it” for the initial 39 games. Seems like a win/win.
Rich Hill (40)- Rich Hill is really good…when he can stay on the mound. The problem is that he can’t. If the Braves want to roll the dice on Hill, they could, and just pray that he’s healthy in the postseason.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (33)- An absolute stud of a pitcher if he can just stay on the mound. Throws nothing hard, nothing straight and the change is the dagger. He’s as close to Greg Maddux currently in the MLB.
Zack Wheeler (30)- Wheeler threw 195.1 innings last year and still pushed an average FB across at 97. His FB and SL are his go-tos and the curve and change keep hitters honest. I’d really like to see what Kranitz could do with Wheeler. Kranitz changed Teheran’s entire approach against LHHs, pitching them up and in. It did wonders for Julio’s FB. Can you imagine what 97 up and in would do?
Stephen Strasburg (31)- It’ll cost more than an AAV of 25MM to sign Strasburg in what most would consider his best year to date. I fully expect the Nationals to rework his deal, but if he goes out on the market, someone’s going to have to 1-up the dollars and the years. He’s really good…but Braves ain’t paying him 6/180MM.
Mid-Rotation Types- #3-4 Guys
Homer Bailey (34)- If the Braves were to cut ties with Julio Teheran in search of a veteran that could give them innings and, essentially, what Teheran gave them, for a lesser cost, they could call on Mr. Bailey. This wouldn’t be my path.
Gio Gonzalez (34)- As I said with Bailey, if the Braves want to drop Teheran and sign a veteran to eat innings at the back-end of the rotation, Gio would be a good bet to do that.
Felix Hernandez (34)- The King is on here merely for respect. I don’t know what has happened to him, but I hope someone can figure it out.
Dallas Keuchel (32)- Keuchel was fine for what the Braves needed in 2019, but he’s not a pitcher that moves the needle anymore for a postseason team and that’s ok if that’s what a team needs. The Braves need more.
Wade Miley (33)- Wade Miley is what Dallas Keuchel and Julio Teheran is and that isn’t what the Braves need, but Miley will likely be cheaper than either so he could be a fit if Braves want a back-end rotation guy. How I do hate settling.
Ivan Nova (33)- Nova is a lesser version of Keuchel, and Miley, and will likely be cheaper.
Rick Porcello (31)- It’s bizarre to me that Porcello was a Cy Young winner because, to be blunt, he’s just not that good. Is at his best when he keeps the ball on the ground. Unfortunately for him, that’s been difficult these past few years.
Tanner Roark (33)- Typical mid-to-back rotation guy. Roark puts up anywhere between 160-180 innings of “keep us in the game” pitching. At least he’s consistent.
Michael Wacha (28)- Diminished velo has led to an ineffective FB and might make Wacha consider changing up his 4-pitch usage. The change has always been the pitch that gets outs, but he really needs to find the FB again to create effectiveness on all other pitches.
Adam Wainwright (38)- Age ain’t nothing but a number. Wainwright came back to the Cards and pitched well enough. He doesn’t have velo to speak of anymore, but he’s still getting people out with that nasty hook. It’d be pretty sweet to bring Wainwright home where he would’ve been if J.D. Drew wouldn’t have been a thing (truthfully, we as fans can’t be too mad about that because the “streak” might not have continued if Drew weren’t acquired…what a year he had). Still…this isn’t the time for reunion tours and I feel like Wainwright might be St. Louis or bust at this point.
Alex Wood (29)- It just feels like Wood is going to become Rich Hill at some point. Maybe they cannot coexist so Wood has to wait for Hill to retire. Alex has top-tier stuff, but just cannot stay healthy. His best year, 2017, was when his sinker was absolutely dominant and hitters were chopping it into the ground. It was also at its highest velo and maybe he can’t push it there anymore.
Who do you got on this list? Let’s hear it in the comments!