“Braves now in pursuit of a front-line starting pitcher”
That’s the headline of Mark Bowman’s new piece today about the Braves. So apparently the hang-wringing about what to do is over, and the scouting is underway. There are several opinion bits out about exactly who The Frank Wren & Co. Salvage Works are after, but for sure it will come down to the few guys they believe can do the job of a “front-line starter” (i.e., something between #1 and #3 in the rotation) between now and the end of the year… at least.
There are reports that Atlanta is somewhere between “considering” and “actively pursuing” Jake Peavy (White Sox), Bud Norris (Houston), and Ervin Santana (Royals). If you’ve followed the Braves for any time at all, though, you’ll certainly know that this team has an unnerving habit of making you look to the left whilst they are working on the right.
As such, we have prepared a fairly comprehensive list for you to consider: the shopping list for starting pitching. Some of these guys will be ones that have been mentioned a lot. Some hardly at all. Some have been mentioned, yet aren’t likely to be going anywhere. But in all cases, I give you the reasons they might be moved… or now. At the end of this, I’ll give you my personal guess as to what Atlanta does.
So with that: the Mall is Open… I hope Frank has a gift card.
….still a fair chance that Houston is trolling everybody.
….ummm…. make that “See below“.
….that may have been too optimistic, given new reports. Drop those odds to about 20%. KC wants the moon.
As you can see, most are not truly viable/available candidates. In my opinion, it boils down to just these guys (in this order):
I believe that Atlanta will attempt to sign Ted Lilly next week once he clears waivers – for depth reasons. It would not be a major league deal. If he gets a major league offer from somebody else, he’ll take it.
Lohse has been a very “hot” pitcher over the past two months, with an ERA of around 2.5 over that period of time. He’s nearly 35, but has been pretty durable. The contract is acceptable… and if the Braves wanted to spin him off at some point, they’d likely find someone to take him (assuming he’s still pitching well and not hurt). Either way, the obligation runs only through 2015.
Peavy’s contract is pretty stout. That’s also why I rank him lower on the list. Santana, however, would strictly be a rental, though KC would require a stud prospect in return (and recent reports suggest they like what the Rangers paid for Matt Garza as a guideline… very steep price). So there’s two big reasons why these guys would be (in an ideal world) the lesser targets.
Joe Saunders? Cheaper for sure, but lesser performance up-side as well: he does not fit the definition of “front line starter.”
Financially, all of these four can be handled by Atlanta… though Peavy’s deal would certainly stretch that point. If his contract option doesn’t vest (it probably won’t), then it’s likely the better deal, and I do like the fact that he’s a true workhorse in the mold of Tim Hudson… which, unfortunately means that he’s be getting injured more often lately (though the most recent – a broken rib – isn’t exactly common for pitchers). Atlanta has had significant interest in him in the past… and honestly: I think the Braves would prefer Peavy over all others on this list.
But there will be competition:
- Arizona – would prefer non-rentals. That means Peavy/Lohse.
- Boston – definitely looking at Peavy/Lohse/Santana
- Cardinals – seems the are ‘going for it’ again
- Mariners – seriously? They can’t buy free agents, so force ‘em to the NWest, I guess.
- others are possible as well
But will Atlanta pay the price? That’s a big question… and I bet they don’t know the answer yet.
We’ll see how that all works out. Five days to go.