Taking a mid-November break from football here to ask a question about the Braves’ winter makeover in general and their starting rotation in particular: Is it time for a big trade?
If there’s one certainty about the John Hart/John Coppolella regime over the past two years, it’s that the two have not been shy about making trades. Almost all significant deals have involved dealing veteran players who made too much money or were on the verge of free agency for young players and/or prospects. (Hector Olivera was an exception — twice. He was acquired from Los Angeles for two young players, blew up in a bad way, then was shipped to San Diego for Matt Kemp. Kemp made more money than Olivera and was signed for three more years but at least he blew up in a good way.
Back to the trade thing: The Braves recently added an AARP element to their starting rotation by adding 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (the deal hasn’t been announced yet) and 42-year-old R.A. Dickey to one-year contracts. The Braves’ hope is that adding the two oldtimers will spackle enough cracks in the short term in the rotation, which last season ranked among baseball’s worst.
Rumors circulated over the past two weeks that the Braves have inquired about Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer. (It wouldn’t be an official baseball winter unless the Rays were looking to deal a good young player for salary reasons.) But Archer is right-handed and, if you hadn’t noticed, every candidate for the Braves’ starting rotation also is right-handed: incumbents Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz; newcomers Colon and Dickey; returning candidates Matt Wisler, Aaron Blair, Williams Perez (assumes health) and Tyrell Jenkins; late-season addition Josh Collmenter.
Enter: Chris Sale. The Chicago White Sox starter is 27 years old, an All-Star five straight seasons and left-handed. The Sox have resisted opportunities to deal Sale in the past but multiple reports suggest they may be serious this time. The problem: Several teams want him, including the Washington Nationals.
Long time baseball writer Jon Heyman, now of multiple blogs and the MLB Network, reported via Twitter that the Braves have “strong interest in Sale” and have the assets to get a deal done.
There’s no doubt both aspects of Heyman’s report are true. Sale, who is signed for three more seasons, would significantly upgrade the Braves’ rotation and diminish the urgency of Colon and Dickey squeezing one more decent season out of their 40-year-old-plus arms, as well as settling the early career struggles of Wisler and Blair.
The question is: How badly do Hart and Coppolella want to get a deal done? They’ve been resistant to dealing significant prospects in the past.
But if there’s a deal to be made, this is a good time to do it. Sale is 74-50 with a 3.00 ERA in seven seasons in Chicago, including 1,244 strikeouts in 1,100 innings. He has been an All-Star in the last five years and finished in the top six in American League Cy Young Award voting four times.
He led the majors with six complete games last season. The Braves’ entire pitching staff had one. (Easy trivia: Teheran.)
Determining what it would take to get Sale is difficult because there may be so many teams in the bidding. But the Braves have to ask themselves how badly they want to win in the first couple of seasons in their new stadium. The starting rotation, as currently constructed, offers few guarantees. The fact their rotation lacks a lefthander also hurts.
Sale would fix both problems.
Subscribe for free to the, “We Never Played The Game” podcast with Jeff Schultz and WSB’s Zach Klein on iTunes. All episodes can be downloaded and heard on iTunes or here via WSBRadio.com. New episodes every Monday and Thursday.
- Falcons go into the bye week the wrong way
- Keanu Neal can expect fine but Falcons’ biggest issue is injuries
- Georgia Tech does something nobody expected (again)
- With upset win, Georgia Tech suddenly has chance to go 9-4
- Weekend Predictions: Some things are easy to predict (Dogs lose)
- Dan Quinn may have fixed what ailed Falcons
- Podcast: Smoltz says Clemens, Bonds shouldn’t be in Hall of Fame
- Falcons give Dimitroff three-year extension — and yes, I agree
- Georgia Tech’s defense is a trainwreck, and that’s on Johnson
- Georgia Tech’s defensive problems: Is it players or coaching?
- Weekend Predictions: In an upside down world, it’s Kentucky over Georgia
- Will SEC get two teams into college football playoffs?
- Hawks needed a spark but Dennis Schroder brings a blowtorch
- Podcast blog: Hawks’ owner says, ‘I want a (bleepin’) parade’
- At 4-4, Georgia’s bowl eligibility suddenly isn’t a certainty
- Dogs dumped, and rebuilding projects shouldn’t look this bad
- Weekend Predictions: Surprise from underworld — Dogs upset Gators
- Podcast blog: If you don’t know Jesse Itzler, you want to know Jesse Itzler
- Hawks are taking the leap on Schroder, rest is up to him
- Florida has defined Georgia’s failures. Can Kirby Smart change that?
- No suspension for players? Welcome to new world at Georgia
- Quinn’s decision might’ve been right but everything else was wrong
- Throwback performance: Falcons blow 27-10 lead and lose
- If Howard can help Hawks, he’ll change how his story is written
- Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets hibernate; Falcons, Bama roll
- Paul Johnson on critics, future; will Jackets finish better than Dogs?
- Georgia’s makeover looks more like a decline
- Georgia playing to level of opponents — and against Vandy, that’s bad
- Weekend Predictions: Votes for Dogs and Jackets, but Falcons’ run ends in Seattle
- Podcast blog: Braves should have done a little more for Snitker
- Brian Snitker, a 40-year temp, finally gets his shot
- Braves’ Snitker an unusual choice but not necessarily wrong choice
- Podcast blog: Arthur Blank (Part II): On future, Vick and his plans to fire Petrino anyway
- After past two weeks, any win looks good to Georgia
- Jacob Eason struggles in win but it’s a little early to jump ship
- Braves wrong to blame McDowell for struggling prospects
- Weekend Predictions: Georgia wins over remains of Spurrier’s mess