There have been a couple of trade ideas getting some press in the last few days… but the answer to the ‘who hangs up first?’ questions might be surprising
The priorities of the Atlanta Braves this off-season have to involve catching and right field (or left field, if needed, since Ronald Acuna could shift over). Still, there have been expressions made that their next tier of needs/wants would involve both starting and relief pitching.
That’s why today’s report from Ken Rosenthal is a little surprising, though on the surface, you might simply agree with his logic.
Here’s the quote, as seen in TheAthletic (subscription required; emphasis added):
Then there is my idea of Kluber to the Braves, one that actually would make sense, considering the Indians are open to trading a starting pitcher and probably could move two and win the sorry AL Central.
The Braves, though, are not a likely suitor for Kluber, who is under control for three more years, or Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer, who are under control for two. The team’s bigger needs are a right fielder, a second catcher and — as we saw during their loss to the Dodgers in the Division Series — bench help.
So in summary, Rosenthal is hearing that the Braves are going to be looking toward their other needs first before thinking about starting pitching. At face value, that’s a reasonable thought.
The inference is that Atlanta will be spending its prospect capital on these other needs – not on pitching – and it’s those prospects that the Indians would require in return for Kluber or Carrasco.
If you want to go further out on this logical limb, I’d probably argue that what Rosenthal is hearing is that the Braves are more likely to spend prospects to fill the Catcher and/or Right Field openings… and Catchers will be tougher than outfielders.
So who do the Braves want here? Probably J.T. Realmuto. He’s clearly the prize of the tradable catching options, and the 1 name that would hold up discussions of other deals. Obviously the next question involves how much the Marlins would want in return… and that question is still open despite the answer being “a lot”.
So as for the Indians’ starters: I expect from this that Cleveland would like to do a deal with the Braves. However, while the question is still not out of the realm of impossibility, the Indians will likely have to wait their turn to see what the Braves have left if there is a catching deal to be had.
Realmuto in Pinstripes?
The other deal that seems to be gaining a lot fan traction outside of Braves Country involves a straight-up swap of catchers between Miami and New York City: J.T. Realmuto for Gary Sanchez.
On the surface, this might sound good for both sides… the Yankees solve their catching problems defensively and offensively (at least from the viewpoint of ‘consistency’), and the Marlins get a guy who still has some upside and control for 4 more seasons.
But despite the obvious Yankee connections at the upper levels of both teams, you’d have to wonder why this deal would ever be done.
After all, it doesn’t help the Marlins.
Not the Best
Sure: if they ultimately choose to trade Realmuto, they would need a catcher in return, but they want/need more than just one player. They need to build a team with actual prospects… not a major leaguer who isn’t faring well in his craft.
This could be why the Fish are so reluctant to cash in Realmuto: their young pitching needs help to finish their development and to gain confidence on the mound. Gary Sanchez wouldn’t exactly provide that.
His wild pitch stoppage ability wasn’t any better: While he was 4th in the majors on that list, you’d also have to consider innings at the position, and that pro-rates at no better than 2nd worst overall.
Not the kind of backstop you’d want – especially for a young pitching staff. All of it translates to extended and more difficult innings for his battery-mates.
At the same time, if the Braves are actually actively in pursuit of Realmuto, this Yankees/Sanchez swap talk is probably mere chatter.
So I guess it’s a good thing that the Yankees rejected the Braves’ overtures to get Sanchez while Coppolella was in charge, eh? (Hint: Probably not, given the others that were in the alleged blockbuster!)