Atlanta Braves: Who Exactly Are "Top of the Rotation" Trade Options?

Zak SchmollAnalyst IJuly 17, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08:  Ryan Dempster #46 of the Chicago Cubs piches in the first inning against the New York Mets at CitiField on July 8, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves need pitching, but they are only looking for "top-of-the-rotation" pitchers as we approach the trade deadline, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.

Stark also cautions that any rumors linking them to guys like Jason Vargas and Francisco Liriano are probably false.

However, even though we obviously know that those two are not "top-of-the-rotation" guys, you have to wonder who the Braves might be interested in pursuing.

The top arm potentially on the market would definitely be Cole Hamels, but neither team would be excited about making such a big trade within the division.

However, there are other teams who are struggling and might be selling with big arms available.

The Chicago Cubs might have a few options for the Atlanta Braves.

Ryan Dempster is having a brilliant year at 5-3 with a 1.86 ERA and with more run support, that record could be so much better. With Chicago struggling and the fact that the Atlanta Braves have a plethora of strong pitching prospects, this could be a great trade as Atlanta tries to pursue the Washington Nationals.

If Dempster doesn't seem to work out, the Cubs also have Matt Garza. Granted, he is probably having his worst professional season at 5-7 with a 4.02 ERA, but he is quite a talent. I remember his name being floated over the winter as a trade target, and he might finally be on the move now.

Finally, there is always persistent rumor of Zack Greinke. He will almost definitely be moving somewhere, and the Milwaukee Brewers are going to get a lot in return for the former Cy Young winner who is currently 9-3 with a 3.57 ERA. It is hard to tell if there is a front-runner for the right-hander, but you have to assume that the Atlanta Braves are going to be in those talks until the end.

The National League East has spread out a little bit, and it hasn't quite been as competitive as some people, including myself, thought it might be. However, the Atlanta Braves are still within striking distance of first place as they are trailing the Nationals by three games right now, and adding a strong pitcher would help them try to close that gap.


Whether you think I know everything or nothing about Major League Baseball, you should follow me on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook and keep in touch. I love hearing what you all have to say!