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Atlanta Braves next pursuit may come via the mound

HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 05: Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians delivers a pitch in the second inning against the Houston Astros during Game One of the American League Division Series at Minute Maid Park on October 5, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Outfielder talk may be done: Anthopoulos likely to try and finish with a starter.

Recent statements by Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos suggest strongly that a frontline starting pitcher is his focus right now.

There are still a couple of scenarios in which the Atlanta Braves might still end up reconfiguring their outfield, but even in that scenario, the underlying purpose would be the acquisition of a frontline starting pitcher.

To say ‘it might not happen’ comes with the territory: by now, that part should be obvious. But in comments made to MLB Network Radio (Sirius/XM) on Thursday afternoon, Anthopoulos clearly sounded like someone who really wants that ace on the staff.

Those specific comments have not been uploaded by @MLBNetworkRadio, but in a snippet rebroadcast this morning on ‘The Leadoff Spot’ with Steve Phillips and Eduardo Perez, Anthopoulos expressed his experiences with having that #1 pitcher on the staff that made everyone else better by moving the rest down 1 spot.

While in Toronto, he noted that his acquisition of David Price in Toronto worked well and he also saw the impact of Clayton Kershaw in Los Angeles on a first-hand basis – and he likely noticed last year from afar the opposite effect when Kershaw was absent.

But Anthopoulos’ enthusiasm for the concept was evident – and thus it’s clearly something he wants for his new Atlanta Braves club, too.

 

Complications

In comment that we do have a link for (see below), Anthopoulos also discussed that he’s been heavily engaged in the trade marketplace, and suggested that he simply has not been able to say ‘Yes’ to a big deal yet because of concerns over the long term implications to the team.

He mentioned James Paxton at one point, but it’s evident that the Braves were outbid by the Yankees for him.  Hindsight suggests that this deal could be construed as ‘the one that got away’, given how the rest of the off-season opportunities have (not) progressed.

Presumably, Anthopoulos is clinging to certain prospects because they will be needed soon at the major league level.

While the Braves are clearly loaded with viable pitching prospects, it seems that teams are more enamored with their non-pitching standouts.

Just on Thursday, David O’Brien wrote in The Athletic (subscription required) that Austin Riley has been working out in the outfield with the hope of being able to contribute at a corner position should that need arise.  But rumors are that many – Miami in particular – would like Riley for third base.

Anthopoulos’ task has been made only more difficult particularly because of Riley’s body of work thus far and his proximity to the majors.  The interest in Riley isn’t terribly surprising, but the apparent inability to sell young pitching is.

 

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