Braves' Top Hypothetical Trade Targets for Early Season Shake-Up
The Atlanta Braves have been slow out of the gates in their quest to defend their World Series title, but there's too much talent on their roster to count them out of contention just yet as they continue to hover around the .500 mark.
The biggest issue has been the back of the starting rotation, where Bryce Elder, Huascar Ynoa, Kyle Muller, Tucker Davidson and opener Jesse Chavez have all taken at least one turn behind the foursome of Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Kyle Wright and Ian Anderson.
The front office has to consider anything it gets from Mike Soroka this year to be a bonus, and that could mean swinging an early deal to add another arm to the starting-rotation mix.
In this article, we've highlighted three potential trade targets to bolster the rotation—one blockbuster addition, one low-cost addition and one outside-the-box addition.
Off we go!
Blockbuster Addition: RHP Frankie Montas, Oakland Athletics
After Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea were all traded by the Oakland Athletics in the weeks leading up to Opening Day, it has become almost a foregone conclusion that right-hander Frankie Montas will be pitching elsewhere before the 2022 season comes to a close.
The 29-year-old is earning $5.03 million this season, making him the third-highest-paid player on the Oakland roster, and he is controllable for one more year via arbitration before reaching free agency following the 2023 season.
After finishing sixth in AL Cy Young voting a year ago, he has a 3.67 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 53 strikeouts in 49 innings through his first eight starts, and his additional year of club control makes now the best time for the Oakland front office to maximize his value.
The Athletics should already be plenty familiar with the Atlanta farm system from their time scouting ahead of the Matt Olson deal, and a package built around someone like Kyle Muller or Tucker Davidson would give Oakland a young, controllable arm to immediately plug into the MLB rotation.
Low-Cost Addition: LHP Jose Quintana, Pittsburgh Pirates
The one-year, $2 million contract the Pittsburgh Pirates gave to veteran left-hander Jose Quintana during the offseason could wind up being one of the best investments of the winter.
After struggling to a 6.43 ERA in 63 innings with the Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco Giants last season, he has returned to form in the Pittsburgh rotation, posting a terrific 2.19 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with 30 strikeouts in 37 innings.
His 3.38 FIP paints a promising picture that his early success should be at least somewhat sustainable, and there's no reason for the rebuilding Pirates not to sell high on their buy-low flier.
The 33-year-old has seven seasons of at least 170 innings pitched in his career, and he could be the perfect No. 5 starter on an Atlanta staff that could use a reliable innings-eater.
Outside-the-Box Addition: RHP Josh Lindblom, Milwaukee Brewers
Following a successful five-year run in the KBO that included a brilliant 2019 season where he finished 20-3 with a 2.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 189 strikeouts in 194.2 innings, Josh Lindblom returned stateside on a three-year, $9.13 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Looking to follow in the footsteps of recent returnees like Miles Mikolas and Merrill Kelly, he instead struggled to a 5.16 ERA in 45.1 innings during the shortened 2022 season before getting shelled for 23 hits, 10 walks and 18 earned runs in 16.2 innings last year.
The 34-year-old was designated for assignment last May and outrighted to Triple-A Nashville to remove him from the 40-man roster. Since then, he's become something of a forgotten man in Milwaukee while collecting a salary just north of $3 million in the minors.
However, with a 2.58 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 34 strikeouts in 38.1 innings to begin the year, he's showing signs of once again being a useful option, and the small-market Brewers would no doubt be happy to dump his salary for little to nothing in return.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and accurate through Tuesday's games.