Julio Teheran's name will be mentioned daily by contending teams in need of pitching as the trade deadline nears. The Braves will have a huge decision to make as teams call and try to work out a deal. The deal (or lack of one) could shape the club for years to come.
Teheran is still just 25 years old, even though he has seemingly been around forever. He is under a team-friendly contract through 2020. He has one of baseball's better pitchers through 15 starts. There may be some regression coming, but Teheran has regularly outpitched his FIP throughout his career (3.34 vs. 3.89). His current strikeout rate (23.9%) is his best ever. He isn't walking many. Home runs continue to be a problem, but they always have been. That's who he is; FanGraphs just posted a great piece on Teheran that is worth a read.
There are plenty of reasons for and against a trade. In this version, we examine why the Braves should trade him.
The case for trading Teheran
Teheran's value may never be higher than it is now. Selling high on players is always wise, particularly in a rebuild. His value dipped in 2015, but any concerns about his arm have diminished after a brilliant start to 2016.
This summer's trade market appears to be light on pitching. Teheran would easily be the most attractive piece on the block. Contending teams often get antsy leading up to the deadline; the Rangers and Red Sox make the most sense as trade parters, though the Astros, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Orioles and Pirates could all be fits, too.
Teheran has been quite durable throughout his career, but I worry about his workload. He's thrown 700+ innings over the last 3.5 seasons. I'm not suggesting Julio is about to blow his arm out, but there's always the risk.
Worst case scenario: the Braves are ready to be contenders in 2018, and after years of taxing Teheran's arm, he suffers an injury, and the club gets nothing for him before he becomes a free agent. The team loses its No. 1 starter. That would be brutal. It's all hypothetical, of course, but pitchers can only throw so many innings before something goes wrong.
Perhaps the biggest reason the Braves deal Teheran, though, is the lack of bats in the organization. As Jon Heyman recently wrote, the Braves' stash of pitching in the minor leagues is now "officially amazing." The same cannot be said for position players.
Freddie Freeman is the only legitimate hitter in Atlanta right now. Ender Inciarte and Mallex Smith are speed and glove guys, though neither will ever hit much. Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies have limited offensive ceilings, even if they are top-20 prospects with bright futures.
Who else is there? Dustin Peterson may be an average big leaguer one day. The same goes for Rio Ruiz. But neither are likely to be impact, middle-of-the-order hitters.
The Braves have to find hitters eventually, and Teheran is the best chip on the table. Assuming Atlanta can get a serious haul for him, it makes sense to trade him now with his stock as high as it will ever be.
We will examine the reasons the Braves should keep Teheran in part two of this post, coming later today. Please realize that this post was solely to state the case for Atlanta dealing Julio; the other side of the argument will come in part two.