May 26, 2024

The Braves were reportedly interested in acquiring Aaron Nola and Sonny Gray, but it appears that they were hindered by the penalties associated with the qualifying offer. While I don’t take a stance for or against Commissioner Manfred, surrendering a second-round pick, a fifth-round pick, and $1 million in international money contradicts the idea that MLB encourages team owners to invest more.

Although I cannot confirm that Braves General Manager AA chose not to pursue Nola or Gray due to these penalties, it seems to be a significant deterrent for teams like the Braves, aiming for long-term sustainability rather than a short-term competitive window.

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Unsurprisingly, the Braves front office is expected to shift its focus to the trade market, particularly addressing their pressing need for starting pitching. Despite the Braves being notoriously tight-lipped, trade rumors have surfaced, with Dylan Cease being mentioned as an available option. The Georgia native and Vanderbilt alum have two more years of control and could fit into AA’s strategy of trading and extending contracts, a trend he has embraced in recent years.

However, acquiring Cease won’t come cheap, and his trade value is estimated to be around $40 million, though the actual cost may exceed $50 million due to high demand for a young and talented pitcher.

 

In constructing a trade package for Cease, the Braves might start with Vaughn Grissom and add either Hurston Waldrep or AJ Smith-Shawver. There’s also a possibility that the White Sox could prefer a more comprehensive package, allowing the Braves to retain their top prospects while providing immediate and future assistance to Chicago. An example offer from AA could be:

If this proposal falls short, the Braves might need to include Shawver or Waldrep. While there is some optimism that this trade package could be successful, it is acknowledged that the White Sox might demand more in negotiations.

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