In 2016 the Atlanta Braves finished 68-93, good enough for last place in the NL East. Even with their last place finish, there were many positives from the 2016 season. Freddie Freeman emerged as a legit MVP candidate for 2017, Dansby Swanson looked solid as a rookie, and Ender Inciarte flashed the leather in center winning a gold glove to show for his efforts. Already this offseason, the Braves have been busy by signing free agent starters R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon. The Braves have also made headlines by being in trade discussions involving Chris Archer, Chris Sale, and Sonny Gray. Each starter has their pros and cons being traded for. Below I will analyze each starters’ pros and cons.
Chris Archer (Tampa Bay Rays): Archer ended the 2016 season with a dismal record of 9-19 and a 4.02 ERA. He still struck out 233 in 201.1 innings pitched however. He kept a 101 ERA+, which is just above the MLB average of 100. He still is an above average pitcher overall and looks to bounce back in 2017. He is signed through 2019 with team options for 2020 & 2021.
Chris Sale (Chicago White Sox): Sale finished 2016 with a record of 17-10 and a 3.34 ERA while striking out 233 batters in 226.2 innings pitched. He was the ace of the Sox while accumulating an ERA+ of 120. He is signed through 2017 with team options for 2018 & 2019. His strong 2016 means that the Braves would need to overwhelm Chicago in an effort to deal for him.
Sonny Gray (Oakland Athletics): Gray ended 2016 with a horrific record of 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA. He struck out 94 batters in 117 innings pitched while also walking 42. He hit the DL twice during the season for an inflamed right forearm and a strained right trapezius, which only allowed him to pitch those 117 innings. He is signed through 2020, where he is set to be a free agent.
In conclusion, Sonny Gray and Chris Archer’s stocks are at an all time low while Chris Sale’s is flourishing. The Braves could send less prospects to the Rays or A’s for their starters, but at the cost of knowing if their aces look to bounce back. I believe that the Braves should roll the dice and trade for Chris Sale. A potential deal could look like:
Chris Sale and Nate Jones
Ozzie Albies, Sean Newcomb, Max Fried, Chris Ellis, and Austin Riley
It would be a steep price to pay for Sale, but the Braves would get a #1 starter to pair up with Julio Teheran helping lead the Braves back to their winning ways.