The Braves have already made their first impactful move this season of 60 games by designating Mike Foltynewicz for assignment after his first start last night. The guy who started in a Game 5 for last year’s winner for the team last year probably threw his last pitch in the Braves’ uniform after seeing another severe drop in his speed, which has dropped nearly ten miles an hour since the Astros called in 2014. In a shorter season, Atlanta doesn’t have the luxury of hoping it can get back some of that juice, so no one can blame them for acting quickly. However, he leaves his rotation with even more questions after Mike Soroka and Max Fried.
Yesterday, our Chase Irle spoke about the internal options the Braves could immediately turn to, but Alex Anthopoulos also has to be looking in the trading block for rotation help. If Atlanta wants to race for a World Series title, what they have now is not going to cut it. The problem is that not many teams are looking to deal so early in a shortened season, especially with an expanded tiebreaker of 16 teams. Every organization should feel like it has a chance right now, even the bottom feeders like the Marlins and Tigers.
Still, with the exchange deadline just a month away, Alex Anthopoulos’ quest to get started begins now. Sean Newcomb was very ineffective on his first start. Mike Foltynewicz is out of the picture. And Kyle Wright has not yet made his debut in 2020, but it is far from certain. Here’s an early look at who might be available sooner rather than later.
LHP John Means, Baltimore
Even though the Orioles are currently 2-1 and only half a game out of first place, it’s pretty clear they won’t be competing in 2020 (if they are, it would potentially be a comeback story in the top five in sports history). They have one of the most sterile lists in the league, but there’s a lot I like about John Means. The left-hander had a good 2019 in a team of 54 wins, posting a 12-11 record with a 3.60 ERA and 121 Ks in 155 innings, leading to an appearance in the All-Star Game.
Means is also controlled by the team during the 2024 season, something that will be more appealing to the Braves because even with all the pitching prospects that have broken through, Atlanta still has major problems with its rotation. However, that means the price will be considerable, and the Orioles may feel like they can become competitive long before the Means’ contract ends. Baltimore also recently placed Means in the 10-day IL with shoulder fatigue, so the Braves would probably want to see him look comfortable at least initially before coming to an agreement.
LHP Matthew Boyd, Detroit
Detroit is another bad team that is enjoying relative early success. Boyd, however, is not in the same boat. After having a horrible second half last year, his first start in 2020 was not great. Four runs in five innings earned him a loss against the Reds. Now its starting price compared to what it was on the last trading deadline is imminent, but with two more years of arbitration, it still has some value. However, if I’m AA, I’m not bidding on a guy with a career 4.92 ERA. Surely it would be a recovery project, but with the right staff it could work.
RHP Joe Musgrove, Pittsburgh
Musgrove was a little rough on his first start, but it would be a quality piece for the Braves’ rotation. Pittsburgh also thought that giving up Austin Meadows, Shane Baz, and Tyler Glasnow for Chris Archer was a good idea, so you might have a bargain. He only has a $ 2.8 million deal with two years of arbitration remaining, so it makes a lot of financial sense. Musgrove does not change the rules of the game, but it would be a substantial improvement over the Foltynewicz that we saw earlier this season. The Pirates would probably already be willing to listen to offers for him today, which is another plus.