Braves send Wright to Royals for reliever Kowar

Nick Anderson also traded to Kansas City in exchange for cash considerations

November 18th, 2023

ATLANTA -- Instead of paying to spend the 2024 season on the injured list, the Braves found a way to remove the former 20-game winner from their payroll and expand their financial flexibility as they try to strengthen their starting rotation.

The Braves created some surprise on Friday night, when they traded Wright to the Royals in exchange for right-handed reliever . This move was announced around 8 p.m. ET, which was the deadline for all clubs to decide which of their arbitration-eligible players would be tendered a contract.

Had the Braves tendered Wright a contract, the 28-year-old hurler would have likely received approximately $1.4 million via arbitration to spend the 2024 season recovering from the shoulder surgery he underwent in October.

This move was made a little less than 24 hours after the Braves included two of their other non-tender candidates, Michael Soroka and Nicky Lopez, in a trade with the White Sox. Soroka ($3 million), Lopez ($3.9 million) and Wright could have gained a combined $8.3 million via arbitration.

The Braves also sent Nick Anderson to the Royals in exchange for cash considerations on Friday afternoon. Anderson could have earned approximately $1.6 million had he been tendered a contract before Friday night’s deadline.

As the Braves have created some payroll flexibility, there is growing reason to wonder if they will now be in position to make a strong attempt to sign Aaron Nola, Sonny Gray or another free-agent starting pitcher.

Wright was taken with the fifth overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft out of Vanderbilt. But he didn’t realize his great potential until he went 21-5 with a 3.19 ERA in 2022. He was MLB’s only 20-game winner that year. His bid to build on that success evaporated in January, when he developed right shoulder discomfort. He missed nearly all of Spring Training and ended up posting a 6.97 ERA over nine appearances (seven starts) this past season.

With some uncertainty about how Wright might fare once he returns in 2025, the Braves were willing to pare him from their 2024 payroll and their future payroll plans.

Kowar posted a 6.43 ERA in a career-high 23 appearances for the Royals this year. The 27-year-old hurler was taken by Kansas City in the first round of the 2018 Draft. He has one Minor League option remaining. This could give the Braves some flexibility as they make inevitable moves with their relief corps next year.