Do The Braves Need a Veteran Starter?

Braves fans suffered a couple of major blows last week, learning that longtime veteran staff anchor Tim Hudson has signed a lucrative multi-year deal with the San Francisco Giants, and that Brian McCann will be a Yankee. With Hudson signed away, the Braves pitching staff find themselves in a relatively unfamiliar position at the moment.

The now longest tenured Brave, Kris Medlen, serves as the staffs leader and number one pitcher. Medlen is just 28 years old, and after missing a season with Tommy John surgery, and spending the better part of another in the bullpen, a lot of fans seem to think that the Braves would be much better off with a veteran presence in the promising and youthful rotation.

The veteran starter has long been a staple in baseball. The knowledge and insight of a crafty veteran can’t be tracked by any Sabermetric, and there is no WAR for their influence on a player. We’re lead to believe their experience gives them a tactical advantage that could rub off on younger starters, helping them grow as pitchers for years to come. The Braves have a handful of young, high upside arms, and even a couple of guys with a year or three of big league experience under their belt, but is their a pitcher to be had that could help mold these young guys into quality big league starters for the long haul, without sacrificing the quality of the rotation, and the teams chances at another playoff berth?

I should note that General Manager Frank Wren made an effort to retain Hudson, but his offer was reportedly lower than the $9MM that Hudson had annually earned over the last 4 seasons. With that in mind, the Braves are obviously being cost conscious in their effort for veteran experience. After viewing the free agent stock, I eliminated those who were likely to demand multi-year contracts, or salaries meeting or exceeding $9MM, as well as ruling out guys trying to prove their health, as it’s arguable that the Braves are looking for a solid sure thing rather than a reclamation project.

With those things in mind, let’s take a look at the cream of the veteran free agent crop:

veteran presents


A.J. Burnett is clearly the runaway winner here, but his comments on his potential retirement claim he will pitch for the Pirates or nobody. The only saving grace is that we all know about how Burnett was swept from under Atlanta’s feet by the Yankee’s checkbook 5 years ago, so he might still have a little interest in pitching in Atlanta.

Just behind Burnett is none other than former Cy Young winner and ageless wonder Bartolo Colon. I touched base on his performance a few months back at my personal blog, so you can imagine how skeptical I am about signing a guy like this at his age. He’s been a great story at times, but all good things must come to an end, and I don’t want the Braves to be witnesses to when it does.

Beyond these two, there are nothing more than guys who are going to keep pitching based on their names alone. Roy Oswalt would be an interesting gamble, but I wouldn’t guarantee him a roster spot at this point in time.

In all honestly, Tim Hudson was the best realistic free agent option for the Braves.

I purposely did not touch base on any potential trades for guys like Max Scherzer or David Price, as those players would be out of the budget the Braves have set. Most of the TT staff remain optimistic about a Price trade, but I cannot say I am one of them. With lots of arbitration eligible players still unsigned, and an apparent tight budget, it doesn’t seem realistic to me.

Braves beat writer Mark Bowman posted the intriguing possibility of acquiring Kyle Lohse last week, and he remained a solid #3 starter in 2013, but still remains a bit out of the price range. If Milwaukee kicked in some cash, I could see a potential swap, and it might be the best trade option the Braves would have.

In Conclusion:

After examining the lack of realistic free agent or trade options, do you feel the Braves need to acquire a free agent veteran starter, or do you think they are better off with a cheaper combination of Medlen, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Brandon Beachy, Alex Wood, David Hale, and possibly J.R. Graham and/or Sean Gilmartin?


Do you think the Braves should acquire a veteran starter?

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Tags: Atlanta Braves Free Agency Kris Medlen Tim Hudson Veteran

  • Chris Headrick

    This insistence on an “ace” baffles me. The term can only be used loosely anyway in my mind, and the Braves don’t normally make such huge moves. Another effective starter is needed, but I don’t believe the Braves will acquire an “ace”. Wouldn’t bother me, mind you, if they did though.

    • carpengui

      Well, that’s just it: there’s 2 entirely different questions here: (1) Should they? and (2) Will they? Interviews suggest that Q1 has been answered by the front office as “Yes”. Q2 is likely to be answered via something less than an Ace… albeit mostly because there seem to be a lot more shoppers than supply.

      • Chris Headrick

        Well Wren often makes deals that I don’t agree with, so it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, they do acquire. In the end, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Minor, Meds, Teheran, Beachy, and Wood/Hale starting five, and no new “ace”. Time will tell.

        • carpengui

          Likely can get through a season with them..My question is whether Wood & Hale is enough to start a bigger conversation. (Just thinking out loud).

          • Chris Headrick

            Well if you ask Julien, Wood is already an ace ;-)

          • Matt Talbert

            Alex Wood I like him a lot. Hale and Gilmartin are trade fodder.

          • fireboss

            Wood is someone teams will ask for and I suspect they could get for the right piece. he could well end up in the back of a bullpen ala Venters

      • fireboss

        Wren said he was going to get us a leadoff hitter last October and we ended up with the major league’s second leading strikeout king to go with our number three. Perhaps he’s sign loogy he says will become an ace…. as I being toooooooo sarcastic here?

        • carpengui

          Nah, not sarcastic. Cynical? Yeah. But I can understand that.

  • carpengui

    In other news, Jerry Crasnick tweets that pitcher Chad Durbin has retired: “Durbin went 43-47 with a 5.03 ERA over parts of 14 seasons. He’s now working as a rep for Marucci, the bat company.”

    I suppose he can give first-hand testimonials about how effective their bats are.

    • Chris Headrick

      LOL. How prevalent are Marucci bats in MLB? That’s a good question I don’t know the answer to. I know the bat, just not how well utilized they are in major league baseball. From what I can tell, gaining popularity.

      • Chris Headrick

        Here’s a list of players said to be using their bats, as an interesting side note. As I still do a good deal of coaching, I might have to look into these bats:

        José Bautista, Edgar Rentería, Carlos Beltrán, José Reyes, David Wright, Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramírez, Todd Helton, Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, and Shin-Soo Choo.

    • fireboss

      And Bourbon sales will drop because there will be less need to grab the bourbon now

  • fireboss

    On a serious note whether you call him an ACE or not we lack a power arm and you rarely win in the post season without one. The market price shot up on Hudson – and I bet Arroyo gets more – because of a dearth of quality arms. AJ Burnett has the arm but not the stomach for the big game not the shoulders to lead a rotation. I hope he retires.
    I was not and am not convinced Lohse can continue to dance through the raindrops. his peripherals say he isn’t that good though xFIP isn’t something I rely on. Still he and Huddy make the same money this year which has to make Lohse and Boras spit nails so there is that positive note.

    if I was sent to get to get someone now I’d try to get a package together for Samardziia. It would take more than he’s worth but everyone would really. How about this. we send BJ Laird and Rev to the Red Sox with 8 million for the next 4 years and get Lackey and Middlebrooks back in return? Hey look! A unicorn!!!

    • Brandon_Woodworth

      You lead off with “On a serious note” and then finished with a trade proposal that included B.J. Upton, so I don’t even know anymore.

      • fireboss

        well the first part was serious but when I got to the end I thought a little humor would be understood as that thus the Hey look a Unicorn . I’m sorry of it confused you, it just struck me as funny at the time.