Coming into spring training, the Atlanta Braves were sitting pretty in the National League. Already with one of the more potent offensive lineups, in addition to a dynamite starting staff, the Braves spent the last few weeks before camps actually opened up locking up some of their young talent and solidifying themselves as a force for the future. Yet, just a couple of weeks into spring camp, things aren’t looking so hot for Atlanta.
Kris Medlen left his start over the weekend with his elbow apparently in pain. While the Braves remain optimistic, the reaction appeared to be the same as the injury that led to him having Tommy John surgery a couple of years ago. In addition to Medlen’s uncertain health, Mike Minor won’t be ready to go until the middle of April, while Brandon Beachy has experienced his own issues with biceps tightness this spring.
Those are obviously three very important pieces to the Braves in the upcoming year, and any significant time missed for the trio would leave Julio Teheran as the only impact arm in their starting five. At this point, though, it remains to be seen how much time could actually be missed by any of them. In any case, the Braves may have to start looking at some options outside of the organization.
Many will immediately point to the availability of Ervin Santana. Reportedly going back and forth between the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles at the end of last week, Santana is still without a deal and appears ready to accept a one-year pact. The issue here for the Braves is the fact that one year of Santana is going to be an eight figure deal, which is something that they don’t appear completely ready to shell out, as their payroll would be as high as it’s been in over a decade with Santana in the mix.
Rather than spend money on an unsure arm like Santana, the Braves could go out and make a trade for an impact arm, and there just so happens to be one available on the North Side of Chicago. The Braves were rumored to be in on Jeff Samardzija earlier this winter, but nothing appeared to come of talks. One would have to imagine that the Cubs would be more than intrigued by the deep farm system that the Braves boast.
That’s not to say that the two sides will even discuss it, at least until the trade deadline. But the availability of Jeff Samardzija does present an intriguing case for the Braves. They can get a top of the rotation pitcher with a top notch health history, without having to pay big money. Whether or not they want to shell out the talent it’d take to get him, though, remains to be seen. If the Braves are to make a move, though, it won’t come until more information is available on their currently depleted rotation.