Alex Anthopoulos is targeting 3 Starting Star’s to replace Marco Gonzales’s…

Braves rumors: 3 pitchers Alex Anthopoulos can sign with Marco Gonzales’s money.

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves traded Marco Gonzales to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the MLB Winter Meetings, saving money in the process. Who will they sign to replace him?

The Atlanta Braves traded starting pitcher Marco Gonzales to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night just days after acquiring him from the Seattle Mariners. Gonzales was thrown into the Jarred Kelenic deal, with the Braves agreeing to take on his salary in return for the young outfielder.

Kelenic should enter spring training as the favorite for Atlanta’s corner outfield vacancy. Alex Anthopoulos and the Braves feel confident in Kelenic’s ability to rebound with the right resources around him, which was not the case in Seattle. Gonzales, though, was not part of their long-term plan.

In trading Gonzales to the Pirates, the Braves still have a hole in their starting rotation. Atlanta was reportedly in on both Aaron Nola and Sonny Gray, who signed with the Phillies and Cardinals respectively, at one point. At this point in the offseason, expect the Braves to ink a mid-tier starter, adding a capable pitcher to eat innings alongside Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Charlie Morton and Co. Atlanta already has a solid rotation core for 2024. They don’t need another ace.

But who will Anthopoulos pursue? Your guess is as good as ours, but here are some potential starting pitchers that fit the Braves mold.

Braves could pursue Marcus Stroman with the money saved in Marco Gonzales trade

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By trading Gonzales, the Braves saved some of the remaining $30 million on his current contract. While Atlanta did send some cash consideration to the Pirates, it’s safe to assume they are not paying off his entire deal, or else they would have pursued other options.

Marcus Stroman is expected to receive a deal of around $15 million AAV, per spotrac. If that mark is true, then the Braves should pursue him this winter. Stroman is in the second tier of available starting pitchers this offseason. He opted out of his current contract with the Cubs in search of a long-term deal.

Stroman is unlikely to re-sign in Chicago. He had a 3.95 ERA in 2023, but finished the season on a bit of a low point, giving up five runs in his final two starts as the Cubs missed the playoffs. It’s tough to blame all of that on Stroman, who spent much of the final few months of the campaign recovering from injury.

In Atlanta, he would slot in behind Fried and Strider, and immediately improve a Braves rotation which needs reinforcements and depth.

Braves should enter the competitive market for starting pitcher Seth Lugo

The Braves have shown some interest in Seth Lugo at the MLB Winter Meetings, but they are just one of at least five interested suitors in the former Padres starting pitcher. Lugo made the transition from relief pitcher to starter successfully in 2023, which explains the interest he is receiving on the open market. Per MLB Insider Robert Murray, Lugo is getting offers on a three-to-four year contract. If Atlanta is comfortable with the length of Lugo’s deal, he could be a fit.

However, as Eric Cole of The House That Hank Built, Lugo does come with some risk:

“On the surface, the fit between Lugo and the Braves is a weird one. Atlanta is already attempting to convert the recently signed Reynaldo Lopez back into a starter and Lugo is a guy who made that same transition in 2023 in San Diego to mixed results. Sure, he posted a perfectly reasonable 3.57 ERA while throwing a bunch of strikes, but his strikeout numbers diminished significantly as a starter and he hasn’t posted a FIP lower than 3.76 since 2019 which isn’t great,” Cole wrote.

Lugo was wise to opt out of his contract with the Padres, as San Diego is looking to cut back on payroll. He’d likely slot in the No. 4 spot in the Braves rotation behind Charlie Morton if given the opportunity.

Braves could sign Michael Lorenzen for an affordable asking price

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While Lugo and Stroman would be more attractive options, the Braves best opportunity may come in the form of Michael Lorenzen. While the Phillies found out the hard way that Lorenzen can struggle at times — he did not start for Philly in their postseason run — he did put up solid enough numbers for the Detroit Tigers prior to the trade deadline to become one of the best starting pitchers available.

Lorenzen had a 3.57 ERA in Detroit prior to his trade to a contending Phillies team. Sadly for Lorenzen, his match in Philly did not work out, as he had an ERA over five after the trade. Lorenzen was brutally honest about his Phillies experience after a tough outing against the Braves in September.

“It’s a lot (of rest),” Lorenzen said. “The way the roster is constructed, the starters need to pitch. Going back to a five-man, I have bullpen experience. So it’s just the way it is. We’re in win-now baseball, so you have to do whatever it takes. I have to adjust better and hope to adjust better. But I just haven’t been doing that.”

There’s an argument to be made that the Phillies and Rob Thomson did not utilize Lorenzen as well as they could have. However, that also makes him affordable for Atlanta, and a possible No. 5 starting pitcher. At worst, he’s a depth option and can be replaced by someone in the Braves farm system (such as AJ Smith-Shawver if he’s not trade this winter) if he struggles. Spotrac set his valuation at a little over $9 million in a competitive pitching market, which is actually fairly cheap, if you can believe it.

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