Whenever the 2020 trade deadline will take place, the Atlanta Braves will assuredly be "buyers"
On top of that, the Atlanta Braves will most likely be looking for more arms to stack up in the rotation and most likely someone who could be trusted to start a potential playoff game whenever that may be this year.
It stood to reason that the Atlanta Braves looked to upgrade in the starting pitching department over the Winter, and they did when they signed Cole Hamels to a 1 year deal to cover the 2020 season, but still a case could be made for the Braves to look for a potential game 1 or game 2 starter.
Obviously some will look and point to the surplus of young pitching the Braves currently have in the minor league system, and while they would be correct, those pitchers cannot be relied upon come a do or die game in the playoffs.
I do believe Mike Soroka will eventually become the number one of the Braves staff (truthfully he already is), but a team with world series aspirations can not rely upon a 22-year-old to get you there even with the veterans that would follow him in the rotation.
With everything going on in baseball, and more importantly the world, it is tough to really pinpoint the exact details of how this will come about, but for this list, I have included both players who are in the final year of their deal and a couple who would come with team control.
I've also tried to pinpoint players who will be on teams that will most likely not be competing for a playoff spot and a player or two whose team could very well be looking to shed some salary come the trade deadline.
With that being said, let's get started and take a look at some possible names to look for.
1. Corey Kluber - Rangers
Despite the fact it was only a few months ago when the Texas Rangers traded for Corey Kluber for not a whole lot it seems, he could very well be the largest fish in the trade deadline pond this upcoming season.
Coming off a injury-plagued 2019 season that saw Kluber make only 7 starts, it was easily his worst season in some time as between 2014-2018, Kluber never finished out of the top ten in Cy Young voting, including winning the award twice.
If Kluber can rebound anywhere near his pre-2019 version, he will be a heavy trade target assuming the Rangers are out of the race come the deadline.
2. Mike Minor - Rangers
An old familiar friend might be coming back to the Atlanta Braves perhaps?
Mike Minor has pitched the best baseball of his career since leaving the Atlanta Braves after the 2014 season. In 2019 alone, his WAR was 7.7.
Originally drafted with the seventh overall pick of the 2009 MLB draft by the Atlanta Braves, Minor spent a few seasons with the big league club before going off to the Kansas City Royals.
Minor is scheduled to make just a tad under $10M AAV in 2020 (pro-rated for lost games); he is also scheduled to hit free agency again at the conclusion of the season.
Just like Kluber earlier, I expect Texas will look to deal him if they are out of the race.
3. Kyle Hendricks - Cubs
As mentioned earlier, I expect the Chicago Cubs to still hover around the playoff races, but if indications are true, they could still elect to sell a little at the deadline and try to get some money off the books.
If that's the case Kyle Hendricks could be on the move to another organization.
The good news is throughout his career thus far, Hendricks has never had an ERA larger than 3.95.
The bad news that will truthfully probably scare the Atlanta Braves away is the contract. Hendricks is owed $12M for 2020, and $14M for 2021, 2022, and 2023. That contract also converts a team option into a vested $16M extra year in 2024 if Hendricks finishes top three in this year's Cy Young voting.
4. Robbie Ray - Diamondbacks
It feels as if this one was mentioned a thousand times over the last few months. Maybe it has?
Robbie Ray is a glorified strikeout master, who when he is on, can deliver a gem. However, he tends to be a little inconsistent at times.
The Diamondbacks are a hard team to peg for 2020, but assuming the Dodgers take over the NL West, I would still tend towards them selling.
Considering he is a free agent at season's end, I expect Robbie Ray to be the name most attached to rumors.
5. Kyle Freeland - Rockies
This one is all dependent on two things.
- Which Kyle Freeland shows up: the 2018 or 2019 version?
- Would the Rockies be willing to trade away a few years of one of their best pitchers?
No way around it, but Kyle Freeland was pretty abysmal in 2019 and at one point was even sent down to the minor leagues to get his pitching straightened back out.
However, if he shows early in the year that he has rebounded and is more like the 2018 version that finished fourth in Cy Young voting, he could net the Rockies a few high-end prospects. Especially considering he is under team control through the 2023 season.
6. Jon Gray - Rockies
Another Colorado Rockies pitcher who the club could move on away from for some younger talent they need.
I do not think Jon Gray is as talented as Freeland is, but at the same time, he is more consistent.
Another positive over Freeland is that he would not cost as much, since any team acquiring him would get two years of team control.
That's our list of starting pitchers the Atlanta Braves could look to acquire whenever the trade deadline is this year. Let us know in the comments below who you would most like to see come over to the Braves.