External options for the Braves to replace Mike Soroka

Bill Shanks

The Braves already needed to add one starting pitcher. Now they may need two.

It’s one thing to look for a number three starter, which is something the Braves needed to add to do anything substantial in the postseason. With Mike Soroka now out for the season, the Braves need more than just a number three.

They simply need help. Serious help.

It’s hard to tell on August 4 which teams will definitely be in a trade mode before the August 31 trade deadline. With 16 of the 30 MLB teams making the postseason, most teams may want to wait until the last moment to make sure they have no chance at making the playoffs.

So, can Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos find a team ready to make a deal now? And what will he be willing to give up knowing that if the person he acquires is a pending free agent, he may be gambling to get a contributor only to possibly see the season get cancelled next week.

That’s why, we all need to hope all the teams do what they are supposed to do, that they follow protocols and that this season will move forward.

Anthopoulos will make calls to see who may be available. He might find a team willing to dump salary, to save money in a year where obviously teams are not going to be making much money in this shortened season.

Who are some of the pitchers who could be available before the trade deadline?

- Michael Wacha – Mets – He has an ERA of 6.00 in his first two starts for the Mets. He’s only signed for this season for $3 million, so he’d be a bargain. If the Mets fall out completely, they could try and get a prospect for him.

- Rick Porcello – Mets – Same story except he costs more ($10 million for the entire season). His ERA is 13.50 in his first two games, both against the Braves. He’s only four years removed from a 22-4 record and an American League Cy Young award.

- Marcus Stroman – Mets – Again, this is a pending free agent. He’s hurt now, so Stroman would need to come back and show he could at least give the Braves a few starts for the final six weeks or so of the season.

- Joe Musgrove – Pirates – Josh Donaldson’s buddy from last year is Pittsburgh’s best pitcher, and you know they won’t be in contention. He’s two years away from free agency, so Musgrove could cost more than a pending free agent.

- Derek Holland – Pirates – He grew up a Braves fan in Alabama. Holland was on Ron Washington’s staff with the Rangers and has bounced around from the White Sox to the Giants, to the Cubs and now the Pirates. He wouldn’t cost much.

- Trevor Bauer – Reds – Most believed the Reds would compete, but they are 4-5 so far. Bauer has struck out 20 in his first two starts. He’s a free agent after this season, and Bauer might be someone the Braves would want to keep for 2021, especially since he likes one-year contracts. The Reds would have to be completely out of contention to trade Bauer.

Trevor Bauer - August 3
Trevor Bauer is a free agent after the 2020 season.

- Robbie Ray – Diamondbacks – Ray has been awful in his first two starts (eight runs allowed in 8.1 innings) and he’s a free agent after this season. Arizona thought it would be competing, but not so far.

- Jeff Samardzija – Giants – Another pending free agent, Samardzija has allowed 10 earned runs in 9.2 innings in his first two games. He would cost some money, but this could almost be a salary dump for San Francisco.

Jeff Samardjiza - August 3
Giants starter Jeff Sarmadjiza struggled in his first two starts in 2020

- Johnny Cueto – Giants – This is unlikely since Cueto is owed almost $22 million for next season and there is a $22 million team option for 2022 with a $5 million buyout. Would the Giants eat part of this contract for a better prospect? He’s 34, so this is unlikely.

- Garrett Richards – Padres – San Diego would have to fall out of contention for Richards to be available, and they are expecting to be in the race. Richards is a free agent after the season. He’s got a 3.38 ERA in his first two starts.

- Dylan Bundy – Angels – Eligible for arbitration this winter and for free agency after the 2021 season. Bundy has done very well in his first two starts for the Angels (2.84 ERA, seven hits allowed in 12.2 innings, two walks and 15 strikeouts). With Shohei Ohtani hurting, the Angels will be out there with the Braves looking for pitching.

- Mike Minor – Rangers – If Texas falls out of the race, they may be looking to get something for Minor, who is a free agent after this season. Minor has been very solid for the Rangers in the rotation the last two years (26-18, 3.84 ERA in 60 starts).

Mike Minor - August 3
Former Braves lefty starter Mike Minor is a free agent after this season.

- Mike Fiers – Athletics – Well, don’t let him face the Astros, but Fiers could be available if the A’s fall out. He’s a pending free agent, and this is a guy who went 15-4 last season in 33 starts. The A’s will feel like they can make it, so this would have to be last minute.

- Ivan Nova – Tigers – He’s on a one-year deal with the rebuilding Tigers, who will want to get a prospect for Nova. Last year in 34 stars, Nova was 11-12. He’s averaged 178 innings the last three seasons, so he could at least be an innings-eater.

- Nathan Eovaldi – Red Sox – He’s due $17 million in 2021 and in 2022, so would the Red Sox eat some of this contract to get a prospect? Eovaldi was great for the Red Sox in the World Series a few years ago, and he’s off to a good start. But man, he is expensive.

- Charlie Morton – Rays – Everyone believes Tampa Bay will be in it, but if not, this is one pitcher the Braves may investigate. He’s got an option next year for $15 million. Anthopoulos had interest in Morton before he signed with Tampa Bay.

Charlie Morton - August 3
Charlie Morton has an option for 2021 for $15 million.

- Alex Cobb – Orioles – The 32-year-old Cobb is due $15 million next season, so that makes this unlikely. Baltimore would have to eat part of this contract, but they certainly need prospects. While he’s been with the horrid Orioles, Cobb has not been very good.

Listen to The Bill Shanks Show weekdays at 3:00 p.m. ET on Middle Georgia’s ESPN. You can listen online at TheSuperStations.com. Follow Bill on Twitter at @billshanks and you can email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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