Braves prioritize starting pitching at Deadline

August 27th, 2020

ATLANTA -- If the Braves had known all that would go wrong during this season’s first half, there’s no way they’d expect to be in their current position, sitting atop the National League East and winning at a pace that would lead to 97 victories during a 162-game season.

Max Fried is the only remaining member of the season-opening rotation and much of August has elapsed without both and . But the Braves have proven deeper than expected offensively and their bullpen has lived up to high expectations. So, it appears this is a bunch that could make some noise in the postseason with the right fix or two before Monday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.

There’s a chance will prove healthy enough to steadily build endurance in September and there’s a possibility will regain the velocity needed to again find success at the big league level. But the Braves have no choice but to make pursuing a starting pitcher the priority over the next few days.

An important wrinkle to this year’s Trade Deadline is that teams can only trade players who are part of their 60-man player pool (assigned either to the big-league team or the alternate site). Clubs are permitted to include players to be named later in trades, however. Additionally, scouts have not been allowed to attend games in person, so all assessments of prospects have been done based on provided video and data and past knowledge.

Buy/sell/hold: Like his peers, Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos will weigh how aggressive he should be this season. But there’s no doubt, he’ll at least attempt to add to a team that is much stronger and deeper than the two Atlanta clubs that were eliminated in the NL Division Series both of the past two years.

What they want: ’s impressive big league debut on Wednesday altered the perspective from both an immediate and long-term perspective. With Anderson and , the Braves are hopeful to have at least two reliable starters over the remainder of the season.

At the same time, Anderson’s arrival gives hope that he will join with Fried and to form a formidable trio over the next few years in Atlanta. The recent struggles of and have weakened the system’s starting pitching depth. But the Braves have indicated they are focused on starting pitchers whose contracts will expire at the end of this season.

What they have to offer: With an abundance of young talent at the big league level, the Braves’ prospect pool doesn’t look quite as impressive as it did over the past few years. But there is still a lot of quality depth within this system, which is headlined by and , who both rank among MLB Pipeline’s top 30 prospects. If Atlanta wants to make a big deal, they would have attractive currency in the form or either of these two outfielders. With , , and others, this club has plenty of those attractive mid-level prospect available to satisfy the needs of what might be deemed a less-significant deal.

Chance of a deal: There’s better than a 50 percent chance Anthopoulos will find a solution within what is a thin starting pitching market. The odds are low that or are going to end up in Atlanta. But once the deadline passes, the Atlanta rotation will likely consist of more than just Fried and Anderson.