It’s been a busy and productive start for the Atlanta Braves early in the offseason, with two veteran starting pitcher signings. And they’re not done. The Braves are going after Chris Sale, while also taking a look at Chris Archer and Sonny Gray.
The Braves have missed the playoffs for three straight years, and have won only 135 games in the last two seasons, twice going under 70 wins. It might be difficult bouncing back from those horrific results in just one season, but they’re switching approach: Along with their young player development, they’re adding veterans who can give them one or two years of quality baseball.
So far, they’ve signed Bartolo Colon on a one-year, $12 million deal, and R.A. Dickey for $8 million. That might sound like a lot for two players over 42, but both of them still have some baseball left. Dickey pitched for 169 innings last season in Toronto, posting a 4.46 ERA. Not great, but he can be useful in certain rolls, maybe even in the bullpen. Colon is doing a lot better, making the All-Star last season and posting a 3.43 ERA, pitching over 190 innings.
While the Braves throw money at their pitching issues, they might look to use some of the talent they’ve acquired over the last couple of seasons in order to bring over a younger, more in his prime pitcher. The immediate target is Chris Sale, who the Chicago White Sox are dangling in front of teams, hoping someone comes in with a big enough offer. Sale isn’t just an excellent pitcher who is under 30; he’s also on an incredible contract which makes it easy to keep him under control through 2019 with a max salary of $13.5 million.
There are also Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays and Sonny Gray of the Oakland A’s. The 28-year old Archer did have a small decline, posting a 4.02 ERA last season, but his age and contract make him very desirable. He’s guaranteed through 2019 on just $19 million in total, and there are team options for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, with the contract peaking at $11 million for the 2021 season. If Archer bounces back to his pre 2016 ability, that’s one hell of a bargain.
Gray is also at the right age (27) but coming off a disappointing season. He had an awful 5.69 ERA with an injury hurting his production, but everyone seems very confident that it’s not telling as to how the rest of his career will be. Gray isn’t a free agent until the 2019 season which makes adding him even more worthwhile. He’s expected to make $3.7 million in 2017 through arbitration, unless the A’s sign a long term deal with im.