On the heels of their trade for Tommy Milone from the Orioles, the Braves seem to be very busy in their pursuit of rotation upgrades. While Milone is more of a depth acquisition to provide innings and competent production, it seems Atlanta may be looking at adding more talented arms to their present and future plans.
There’s an increasing belief among teams Mike Clevinger has a good chance to be dealt. Indians have 6 very good or better starters, all on cost-efficient deals. Price is appropriately high. Braves, Padres, Yankees, Dodgers among many who’ve been in contact.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 30, 2020
It may seem odd that the Indians would consider trading a talent like Clevinger, especially with two more seasons of control beyond 2020. However, after an incident earlier this season in which Clevinger and teammate Zach Plesac violated COVID-19 protocols and were sent to the Indians’ alternate site, speculation has picked up that both pitchers could be trade targets for other teams.
From a talent perspective, Clevinger would be quite an addition to the Braves’ rotation. From 2017-2019, Clevinger was worth 10.9 fWAR, which was the 17th best total among qualified starters in the MLB over that stretch. He was also eighth in ERA over that span. Though his 2020 numbers have declined a bit, that likely can be connected to how his season has played out.
Despite recent events, the interest in Clevinger is not a surprise. Simply put, he would be a very valuable addition to any rotation in baseball. As a result, there is a good chance the price in prospects to acquire Clevinger will be quite high. During Alex Anthopoulos’s time as the Braves’ General Manager, he has shown a clear preference to hold on to the Braves’ best prospects. However, with the emergence of Mike Soroka last year, Max Fried this year, and the struggles of the Braves’ other young starters (beyond Ian Anderson’s debut), Anthopoulos may now have proof that acquiring a talent like Clevinger is worth the price. Though a deal for Clevinger should still be considered unlikely, both Clevinger and the need to acquire another reliable starter for the present and future are sensible options to fully explore.