The Atlanta Braves took a huge hit when they lost Tim Hudson for the rest of the season to a broken ankle. Hudson’s injury is the latest in a series of injuries that have hit the Braves’ pitching staff this season. The Braves are set to see Brandon Beachy return from an elbow injury and could see Paul Maholm return after a short stint on the DL for a wrist sprain. However, Braves general manager Frank Wren figures to be looking for a rotation upgrade as the MLB non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
So far, it has been pitching that has dominated the trade market with Ricky Nolasco and Matt Garza representing the opening shots. As it stands right now, it is still pitching that is available as we are now only a few days away from the deadline. The Braves are already scheduled to be one of several teams sending scouts to check out Jake Peavy’s next start. However, expect the Braves to check in on several starting pitchers leading up to the deadline.
Bud Norris of the Houston Astros would be a nice fit for the Braves but he might cost too much in terms of prospects. Ideally, the Braves would like to obtain a starter without sacrificing too much of their young talent. Norris, however, is still only 28-years-old and has pitched very well this season to the tune of a 3.93 ERA. Norris isn’t the type of front-end starter that Hudson is.
Peavy might be the best fit but there expects to be several teams bidding on the former Cy Young winner’s services. The Braves do have enough to land Peavy but the question is do they want to part with what it might take?
Secondary options include Phil Hughes of the New York Yankees, Yovani Gallardo of the Milwaukee Brewers and potentially Ervin Santana of the Kansas City Royals. Of the secondary options only Hughes is legitimately on the market. The Royals have said they want to keep Santana and the Brewers would need to be blown away by an offer.
Despite the injuries and sometimes sporadic offense, the Braves sit 7.5 games ahead in the NL East. Wren could view Beachy’s return as the equivalent to getting an arm at the trade deadline and Alex Wood, despite a poor start, still has promise and could become a factor. Maholm could also be a wild card when he returns. If he is the pitcher from the beginning of the season the Braves wouldn’t need to go out and get anyone. However, Maholm had compiled some ugly numbers in his three starts before his injury, posting a 0-3 record with 10.13 ERA, almost seven runs higher than he was averaging in the three months prior.
The Braves certainly have wants at the moment. The returning arms could balance out the needs but they are still question marks until they come back and show what they have and the Braves will need to make a decision before that point. Instead, the Braves could look to add a little offensive pop in the outfield. Nate Schierholtz could become a target and might be one of the few bats moved before the deadline. Whether or not Wren wants to pay the price for the Chicago Cubs’ outfielder is another story.
Wren will be looking but whether or not he gets a deal done is another story. The Braves will put their best offer on the table, probably for an expiring contract like Hughes, and see what happens. Adding an arm that will help this year is the key. Next season they will have Hudson, Julio Teheran, Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy as well as a few other options like Mike Minor and Alex Wood.