With the budget getting tight and the price for pitching trending up, the Atlanta Braves might need to wait until the trade deadline to acquire an ace.
The way things stand now, the Braves are counting on Mike Foltynewicz to bounce-back to his 2018 form. They are counting on Max Fried taking another step in his development. They are also counting on Mike Soroka to avoid the sophomore slump.
Now we've added a 36-year-old Hamels to the mix, who was still very good last year prior to injuries.
There's no doubt the Braves have a lot more questions than the defending champions and NL-East Rivals, the Washington Nationals.
The Nationals recently made one of their star pitchers, Stephen Strasburg, the richest pitcher in all the land (until Gerrit Cole signs). They have secured their three-headed monster and if the Braves want to compete with them in the postseason, we need a big bat and probably one more arm.
The problem: we likely can't afford both.
With Josh Donaldson's price soaring, it looks more and more likely that the Braves will be looking for the impact bat in the form of an outfielder. Players like Yasiel Puig, Nicholas Castellanos, Domingo Santana, and Marcell Ozuna are all out there with much lower projected salaries than Donaldson.
Then, what about pitching? The pitching market is blowing up right now. Strasburg just signed for an AAV of $35MM and Cole might go for $40MM.
Waiting until the trade deadline is always an option in this scenario. If we commit to an outfielder, we have a couple of prospects in the minor leagues that could secure an impact pitcher that is not available at this point in time.
This route, the Braves would be able to give the current guys a chance to settle in and figure out who they are comfortable with, and who needs to be replaced. They won't have to pay Madison Bumgarner the $100 million deal he's rumored to be seeking, and they could find significant value from a team that's destined to miss the playoffs.
With that in mind, here is a look at two potential Cy Young candidates that could be added at the trade deadline.