When Atlanta Braves starter Tim Hudson went down with a gruesome ankle injury on Wednesday night at Citi Field, one of the strengths of a National League contender took a major hit.
Due to the scuffling Washington Nationals and inept Philadelphia Phillies, it's likely that Atlanta can reach October without Hudson. Thriving and surviving through a gauntlet of, say, the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals, though, will not be easy without the services of the 38-year-old veteran.
As the trade deadline rapidly approaches, expect Atlanta to jump into the starting pitching market in order to add a veteran arm to its mix of young, talented kids that surrounded Hudson in the rotation.
Changing course with six days left until the non-waiver trade deadline isn't the soundest way to operate a franchise, but with the carrot of a World Series appearance hanging over a talented roster, general manager Frank Wren may not have many other options.
If the Braves do shop, here are three names they can trade for to replace Tim Hudson.
2013 Stats: 12 GS, 73 IP, 8.5 K/9, 4.19 ERA, 3.77 FIP
As Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports pointed out after Hudson's injury, Atlanta's rotation, without the addition of a veteran, would lack playoff experience and skew very, very young.
If the Chicago White Sox choose to hold a fire sale, Jake Peavy would represent a perfect fit for the Braves, supplying them with an arm that rivals Matt Garza for best available entering this month.
As Bleacher Report's Benjamin Klein suggested yesterday, the White Sox could represent a perfect trade partner for both of Atlanta's needs: starting pitching and relief help. By including Jesse Crain in a potential Peavy deal, the Braves could fill two holes and set themselves up to match the pitching depth of Los Angeles, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in October.
Although Peavy has never lived up to the dominance he showed during his 2007 NL Cy Young season, his ability to miss bats and perform at a high level still exists at the age of 32.
The potential of a Peavy-Mike Minor-Julio Teheran trio atop an October rotation should be enough to warrant the Braves surrendering pieces necessary to make a deal happen.
Stats: 20 GS, 138.1 IP, 6.96 K/9, 3.06 ERA, 3.81 FIP
According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Royals will listen to offers for right-handed pitcher Ervin Santana.
Over the last month, Kansas City has failed to make a true run toward .500 or contention, leaving their front office in limbo. When it comes to their 30-year-old impending free agent, acquired just last winter from the Los Angeles Angels, moving him makes sense.
Of course, it will cost Atlanta a true prospect.
Due to Santana's impending free agency in the aftermath of a quality season, Kansas City can feel comfortable offering him a one-year qualifying offer next winter, recouping a high draft pick if another team hands him a long-term deal.
If Atlanta can meet Kansas City's demands, they'll add a pitcher in a bounce-back season, mostly buoyed by an extreme drop in home runs allowed.
In 2012, Santana allowed a whopping 39 home runs in 179 innings. Thus far in 2013, that number has dropped significantly to just 17 home runs.
Stats: 21 GS, 126 IP, 6.4 K/9, 3.93 ERA, 3.87 FIP
On Wednesday, in what was possibly Norris' final start in a Houston Astros uniform, the team's bullpen blew what was a stellar start, via The Houston Chronicle, by the 28-year-old trade candidate.
If Norris is moved by next week's trade deadline, Atlanta could have a ton of interest in his services.
Unlike Peavy (owed $14.5 million in 2014) or Santana (free agent after the season), Atlanta could retain Norris' services at a bargain price through the end of the 2015 season.
Although he's not quite as dominant as Peavy or having the kind of year Santana is for Kansas City, Norris' contract would set him up to be part of the Braves rotation, along with Julio Teheran and Mike Minor, for years.
The loss of Hudson is major for the Braves, but replacing him with Peavy, Santana or Norris could help the team win now and/or in the future.
Who should the Braves target to replace Tim Hudson?