Breaking: Braves Just announced 2 official signing…’s “bold predictions” include Atlanta signing both Jack Flaherty and Lucas Giolito

Jack Flaherty - Wikipedia

Writer Anthony Castrovince speculates the Braves could bring some of Max Fried’s former high school teammates to Atlanta.

It’s officially Shohei Ohtani season.

The All-World designated hitter and starting pitcher will probably suck all the oxygen out of the room for the next few months (or however long it takes him to pick his future destination), but there’s other things to look forward to in free agency.’s Anthony Castrovince released his “eight bold offseason predictions” article touching on some of those free agency storylines, and one involves the Atlanta Braves.

“High school teammates will reunite in Atlanta”

Stop me if you’ve heard this on a broadcast before, but Braves ace Max Fried attended Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles at the same time as fellow MLB pitchers Jack Flaherty and Lucas Giolito.

And given that both pitchers were traded in 2023 and subsequently struggled, Castrovince thinks Alex Anthopoulos can swoop in and take advantage:

It’s an interesting idea, one that could really strengthen the 2024 rotation if it works out. Let’s look at it.

The case for Jack Flaherty is there

When healthy, he’s been good – Flaherty was a Top 5 finisher in the Rookie of the Year race in his debut year, 2018, after putting up a 3.34 ERA. He followed that up with a 11-8 record and 2.75 ERA in 2019, finishing 4th in the NL Cy Young race (and getting down ballot MVP votes, coming in 13th.)

But that caveat – when healthy – is the big thing there. He’s gone on the injured list seven times in the last three seasons, including three times in 2023 (Hand, Hip, and “general soreness”). His strikeout rate ticked up after the trade deadline move to the Orioles, but so did his ERA – 6.75 in only 34.2 innings in Baltimore.

More concerning – his fastball’s been rocked since 2020, including a -5 run value in 2023. Coming in at a below-average 93 mph, it allowed a .290 batting average and .411 slugging this season.

If Atlanta identifies something they can tweak to bring back the four-seam’s movement profile and velocity, there’s value to be had here, especially since underlying stats like FIP show that he was a bit unlucky in 2023 (4.36 FIP versus 7.99 ERA).

The case for Lucas Giolito is a bit harder to see

Lucas Giolito's Unprecedented Shift From Horrible to Unhittable - The New  York TimesGiolito’s 2023 was even rougher than Flaherty’s – traded to the Angels at the deadline, he put up a 6.89 ERA in his six Los Angeles starts and was put on waivers, where the Guardians promptly claimed him and he put up a 7.04 ERA in his six starts there. 

And unlike Flaherty, Giolito’s expected stats were even worse than his actual stats – his ERA was “only” 4.88, but his FIP was 5.27 and his WHIP (1.313) was one of the highest of his career.

Another pitcher who had a below-average velo FB (93.1 mph) that got rocked – .262 batting average with a .546 slugging percentage and -8 run value – Giolito’s at least been healthy in his career. Other than a brief COVID-19 injured list stint in 2022, he’s made at least 29 starts in every (full-length) regular season since he became a full-time starter in 2018.

But it’s clear that both pitchers require some squinting and faith in Atlanta’s coaching staff to see them being contributing members of the rotation for a World Series contender in 2024.

There’s another potential upside to signing the pair, though

IF – and that’s a big “if” – Atlanta’s dead set on re-signing Max Fried after this season, bringing in his former high-school teammates who he’s still close with has additional value for the Braves.

It’ll require a lot of work, as well as a willingness to cross the $22M AAV threshold that no Braves player to date has exceeded, but if the Braves want to retain their ace in future seasons, this can’t hurt.

We’ve seen this in other sports, whether it’s Lebron James lobbying for his teams to trade for Kyrie Irving or Aaron Rodgers somehow continuing to get Randall Cobb contracts everywhere he goes. There’s nothing publicly that says that Fried’s asked for this to happen, but you have to assume it wouldn’t hurt Atlanta’s chances, right?

The downside is potentially significant, though – if Atlanta brings them in and rehabilitates them into starters for a playoff team, the Braves run the risk of 3/5ths of their rotation walking after the season (plus Charlie Morton’s looming retirement, which could come at any time).

But that’s a problem for next offseason. The best course of action, it could be argued, is do whatever you can to give yourself as many potential high-level starting pitching options as possible and figure out the rest later.

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