The Winter Meetings are here and the Braves have been tied to almost every big name ace out there: Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Sonny Gray. All three of these would be substantial additions to the Braves revamped rotation, there’s no question about that, but the question looming is, is now the time to buy for the Braves?
I write almost exclusively about the minor league guys, and watch a lot of their games. I have my own rankings, and own feelings about the players and of course because I cover them so religiously I become attached to the prospects and at times overvalue them a lot. Fact of the matter though, failure rate of prospects is extremely high and it’s important to be proactive with them if you think it can net you a player that you know can contribute at the ML talent.
All of that said, here is why the Braves should not make a significant trade, and should be minor players at this year winter meetings.
As is the Braves definitely have a much more stable rotation than last year which saw a number of players making their debuts. the Jaime Garcia trade was one of the better deals because the Braves dealt away players that did not really project to be major players in the franchise. However it is still a question mark because who knows how well a 43/44 year old Bartolo Colon will do, or how if R.A. Dickey can re-find his form in the NL East.
Jaime Garcia, while still just 30, has missed lots of time in his career due to injury. I like the rotation, I believe it is much improved over last years and will do well, but with that many potential questions is it worth giving up highly touted prospects on a rotation they may potentially feature just Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, and vets on one-year deals?
Much has been said about the Braves torrid offensive second half from 2016 - and with good reason. The Braves were one of the top offenses in all of the second half of baseball, but is that sustainable? In a crowded outfield, over a full season only, Matt Kemp had a wRC+ of over 100 and even then he managed to somehow accumulate -12 DRS in 460 innings.
In the infield Adonis, and whoever we decide to go with at catcher project as being just slightly above replacement level. While they played well, there are still a lot of question marks on players not named Freddie Freeman. Will Ozzie Albies be ready to go out of spring training? Can Sean Rodriguez replicate last season's success? The Braves have 3 players on their team right now that factor into their long term plans - is it worth going all in for an ace right now?
What I’m getting at is that this year might not be the best time to make an aggressive move. With the graduation of some of their prospects to the big league team in the coming future (Albies, Peterson) to shore up a few of the holes on the big league roster - 2017-18 might fit the timeline a little better to go all in in acquiring an ace.
This of course is all moot if the Braves are able to make some trades and improve their lineup. Or, the second half Braves were the true version of each player, and we rebound to have a competitive 2017 and go all in on an ace for a postseason push. I would like nothing more than to be wrong about it all, and will happily eat crow if the offense continues its run like it had at the end of the 2016 season - but for right now, the right move would be to stand pat and not mortgage the farm for one player. The Braves are turning the corner on the rebuild but they are not quite there yet.