MLB Rumor Buy or Sell: Are the Braves looking to add a frontline starting pitcher?
The Braves reportedly offered one of their top prospects to the White Sox for Jose Quintana
Welcome to CBSSports.com's Rumor Buy Or Sell. With the July 31 trade deadline slowly approaching, we'll break down any various trade rumors that come your way during the summer months.
The Rumor: The rebuilding Braves are looking to add a high-end starting pitcher under control for multiple years. They reportedly offered top prospect Ozzie Albies to the White Sox for Jose Quintana before Quintana was Cubs earlier this week.
MLB.com currently ranks Albies as the seventh best prospect in baseball. He's hitting .291/.334/.451 with seven home runs and 21 steals in Triple-A this year despite being nearly seven years younger than the average International League player. Albies, a natural shortstop, is widely considered Atlanta's second baseman of the future.
The Background: Even though they are currently in second place in the NL East, the Braves are 43-45 this season and seven games back of a postseason spot. Could they climb back into the wild card race? Sure. Stranger things have happened. But it's very unlikely. The Braves are probably looking at 2018 as their big breakout year.
Atlanta has been hoarding young arms -- both through the draft and trades -- since they started their rebuild a few years ago. The Braves have arguably the best farm system in baseball and MLB.com lists six of their pitching prospects among the top 100 prospects in baseball:
Newcomb is currently in the big leagues and all of the others except Gohara are in Double-A. (Gohara is in Class A.) All these young arms are getting real close to the big leagues. Some of them could make their MLB debuts before the end of the season. Fried seems most likely to reach Atlanta this year.
Clearly there is a concerted effort here to stockpile young, high-upside arms. So why then look to acquire an ace from outside the organization? Well, there's no such thing as too much pitching, right? And besides, not all these prospects are going to work out. Pitching prospects carry an awful lot of injury risk. Allard (back) and Fried (Tommy John) have already gone under the knife.
The Verdict: This is an easy buy. Prospects are great, and I have no doubt the Braves are looking forward to the cheap production their pitching prospects can provide. But there are two reasons teams load up on prospects: to plug them into the big-league roster, and to trade them. Packaging a few prospects together for someone like Quintana helps speed up the rebuild.
Look at this way: the Braves would be thrilled if, say, Fried one day turned into Quintana. So why not see if you could trade Fried for the actual Quintana? Of course it would have taken more than Fried to get that deal done, but that's the cost of doing business.
The Braves have some really interesting young players both in MLB and on the cusp of the show. Adding a top-flight starting pitcher to this group could get them back into contention real quick. I fully expect them to be involved in the pitching trade market before the deadline.
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