Atlanta Braves are interested in trading an undervalued starter…

Braves Rumors: Atlanta showing interest in undervalued starter at the Winter Meetings.

Sep 15, 2023; Oakland, California, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Seth Lugo (21) delivers a

The Atlanta Braves have certainly made some noise at the Winter Meetings this week. Arguably one of the biggest actual moves to come out of the meetings to this point was the deal the Braves struck with the Mariners to land Jarred Kelenic among others. However, the one thing they haven’t really done is address their biggest need with the rotation (no, Marco Gonzales does not count).

Speculation has run rampant when it comes to Atlanta’s need for a starter this offseason. Some hoped that the team would enter the chase for Yoshinobu Yamamoto (they should) while many others seem to think that trade targets like Dylan Cease or Shane Bieber are more likely. However, one name that hasn’t been batted around too much has been Seth Lugo who was in the Padres rotation in 2023.

Well, as it turns out, it sounds like the Braves are, in fact, looking pretty closely at him.

Braves interested in free agent starter Seth Lugo.

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.

However, what Lugo DOES have is a curve ball with a ton of upside. The pitch didn’t perform well in 2023 when you look at his Statcast page, but before last year when he was primarily a reliever, it was excellent. IF the Braves think they can get more value out of Lugo’s breaker again AND he can still keep up the results from his fastball that he had last season, there is a lot of value in him. Worst case scenario, you can turn him back into a reliever and he would probably be pretty good.

The early estimates on a Lugo deal have sat in the two year, $20 million range and for a guy that has good stuff and hasn’t tapped into his full potential as a starter again, that feels like a worthy gamble assuming the bidding doesn’t get too crazy.

Braves Rumors: Atlanta still in the hunt for Dylan Cease, but they aren’t alone.

Sep 23, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Dylan Cease (84)

The Atlanta Braves stunned the baseball world last night when they swung a trade with the Mariners for three players including Jarred Kelenic. Seattle got some wanted salary relief and the Braves got a high upside left field option in Kelenic and a (hopefully) middling rotation option in Marco Gonzales assuming he is healthy next year.

However, despite the addition of Gonzales, the Braves still really need to add a reliable starter this offseason. Sure, the Braves are selling Reynaldo Lopez’s impending transition back to the rotation as a solution and Gonzales is a nice depth option, but the top of the rotation still remains a short and long term problem. Atlanta seems to agree with that as, despite making a move just last night, the current chatter is that they are still in play to trade for Dylan Cease.

The Braves are still in on Cease, but a lot of teams are in on him.

Reports from Morosi this time of year should be taken with a grain of salt as he does have a bit of a reputation of spinning “interesting ideas” into rumors, but this one at least does seem logical. Atlanta’s interest in Cease has been well-documented this offseason and given their need for a quality starter while having a reluctance to hand out high dollar lengthy free agent contracts, Cease should be on their radar.

However, the White Sox know what they have in Cease and it seems like they are wanting to fully develop his trade market before making a decision. The Orioles, Dodgers, and Reds all make sense as other teams that should be looking to add starting pitching and it wouldn’t be all that shocking to see the Red Sox or Cardinals enter the fray along with any of the big market teams that lose out on the big names on the market.

The end result of all of this is that it does feel a bit unlikely that any Cease trade gets done at the Winter Meetings given the number of teams involved and the fact that guys like Ohtani, Yamamoto, Snell, and Montgomery haven’t signed yet. That said, there is a Chicago gets an offer they can’t refuse. What will be interesting is whether or not such an offer would come from the Braves and whether or not they use any of the pieces they just acquired to help get such a deal done.

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