Fire up the rumor mill! With just under 48 hours to go until the trade deadline (Tuesday, August 1 at 6 p.m. ET) Jon Morosi of MLB Network is reporting the Braves are working on adding a starting pitcher.
Morosi added the Braves have checked in on Justin Verlander, but the two parties are not currently engaged in negotiations.
While the possibility of a Verlander trade seems unlikely, the Braves searching for a starting pitcher is an encouraging sign. Even with positive news surrounding Max Fried’s recovery — he is expected to return next weekend against the Cubs — the Braves know far too well how quickly pitching depth can vanish in September (see: last fall when Spencer Strider blew an oblique and a nasty stomach bug made Max Fried lose ten pounds before his start in the NLDS.)
With a talented roster looking like World Series contenders, it would seem wise to add some depth to the starting rotation. The club has a variety of internal options to fill in the back end of the rotation, but I’m not sure any of them would even be in consideration for the playoff roster. Kyle Wright seems like a wildcard with his shoulder issues, Yonny Chirinos wasn’t fooling anyone in his debut, Michael Soroka has struggled with consistency, A.J. Smith-Shawver is 20 years old, and Allan Winans has made one big league start.
Who could the Braves pursue? Jack Flaherty of the sinking Cardinals, free-agent-to-be Michael Lorenzen of the Tigers, Eduardo Rodriguez (also of the Tigers), or Paul Blackburn of the A’s are just a few. With nearly two-thirds of the league in “buy” mode and a lack of talent on the obvious sellers, there aren’t a ton of options.
Earlier on Sunday, the Braves acquired utility man Nicky Lopez from the Royals, a defensive wiz able to play all over the field.