The trade deadline is 52 days away, and with that we get our first Braves trade rumor of the season. According to David O'Brien of the AJC, the Braves may trade for bullpen help and could deal one of their veteran starters in order to do so.
Here's O'Brien's take on the situation*:
Unlke the offense, the pitching issue can and likely will be addressed before the trade deadline. I'd expect the Braves to trade for at least one reliever in the coming weeks, even if that means trading an established starting pitcher to do so. They are reluctant to trade a starter for concern that as soon as they did so, one of the remaining starters would get hurt.
But keep in mind, if the Braves were to trade a Gavin Floyd or Aaron Harang and later have an injury to one of the remaining guys, they'd still have five starters with at least some major league experience. David Hale, remember?
*As a couple of you noted, O'Brien didn't cite any sources saying a deal was imminent or anything like that. This is mostly his conjecture and what he's seen around the club. Take it for what it's worth. Newly-signed free agents can't be dealt until June 16, anyway.
If a starting pitcher was to be dealt, it would be Harang or Floyd, who have both pitched well this season. Neither guy will blow you away, but the numbers speak for themselves: Harang has a 3.33 ERA and 2.92 FIP over 78 innings, while Floyd has a 2.80 ERA and 3.36 FIP in his 35 innings since returning from elbow surgery. And considering neither is signed past 2014, Wren probably won't think twice before dealing either guy should the right deal come along.
Do the Braves really need bullpen help? That is certainly something up for discussion. Even with the recent struggles, the 'pen ranks No. 1 in FIP (2.96) and xFIP (3.23) and is 10th in ERA with a respectable 3.35 mark. Those are hardly numbers that scream "make a trade now."
Still, the bullpen is scuffling and it's cost the club some games lately. David Carpenter has struggled, though his .413 BABIP and ERA-FIP differential of -1.26 suggests he's been a victim of bad luck. Alex Wood hasn't been nearly as good as a reliever as he was a starter. Jordan Walden has only thrown 12 innings, and while he's expected back this week in Colorado, he's an injury risk. Luis Avilan has stunk all season. And for as great as Shae Simmons has been so far, he's going to allow a couple of runs eventually.
My guess is Wren won't do anything for at least a few weeks unless the bullpen gives up something like 48 runs against the Rockies. Starting pitching depth is an incredible thing to have in the second half of the season, and it would be silly to make a rushed decision based off a bad two-week stretch.