Atlanta Braves Rumors: Julio Teheran Getting Traded?

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 15: Pitcher Julio Teheran
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 15: Pitcher Julio Teheran /

Peter Gammons speculates if the hurler for the Atlanta Braves could be the center of trade talks.

After inheriting a front office in disarray, new Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos is behind the curve of customizing his roster for 2018.  Though a few minor transactions have already gone down, Peter Gammons seems to think bigger moves are coming. Take Julio Teheran for instance.

In Gammons’ recent article for the Athletic (subscription required) discussing the post-John Coppolella fallout, AA told Gammons, “We have to decide who fits now, and who might be an interesting trade chip.”  

“Most certainly will dangle Julio Teheran…into a market that likely will be a pitching feeding frenzy.”

Is this just standard, off-season GM speak?  Not necessarily, as Gammons thinks AA had a particular player in mind.

Is Julio Teheran back on the block?  Say it ain’t so!

Teheran’s 2017 season was a tale of two pitchers.  His struggles at SunTrust Park were well-documented and outrageous (5.86 ERA, 5.40 FIP, 5.15 xFIP), but away from home he still posted reasonable numbers (3.14 ERA, 4.51 FIP, 4.77 xFIP).  The road FIP and xFIP indicate some luck abroad, but he has made a career of out-pitching his peripherals.  

Teheran wasn’t just better at some things away from home; he was better at everything.  He gave up fewer home runs, struck out more batters, and walked fewer on the road.  The contact was softer away from STP.  Road BABIP?  Lower.  Road WHIP?  Lower.

Luckily for Teheran, the possibility exists that he might not do much pitching at SunTrust in the future.

Granted, his struggles could have arisen from multiple factors.  Moving from the pitching-friendly confines of Turner Field didn’t appear to do him any favors in STP’s inaugural season.  He modified his off-season routine and missed half of Spring Training to prepare for the World Baseball Classic.  This was also the first year Teheran worked with new Braves pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, his first big league pitching coach other than Roger McDowell.  

Whatever the real reason is, the results weren’t pretty.  Even with hints of a late-season turnaround, Teheran’s 1.1 fWAR was 53rd in MLB among qualified starters.

Is the timing right for a Teheran trade?

Teheran’s value might be at an all-time low, but even with a shaky season, he is still a solid rotation piece.  Long hailed as the Atlanta Braves’ ace, he is best suited as a second or third starter on a contender.

Other GMs will look to cash in on his down season, but Teheran’s value is still high, in part to his team-friendly contract.

Teheran is owed $31MM over the next three seasons.  While Chris Archer’s four years, $30.25MM contract is commonly recognized as the most team-friendly in the game, a successful rebound from Teheran could put his deal in similar company.

With the impending behemoth 2018 FA class on the horizon, teams will be looking to establish financial flexibility in advance.  Any team looking to pursue Manny Machado or Bryce Harper could look to lock down an affordable starter like Teheran.  

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Although any trade return would not be quite as robust as the Chris Sale and Jose Quintana deals, a Teheran trade would certainly return multiple useful pieces for the Atlanta Braves.

If a trade were to take place, it would be a bittersweet ending to Teheran’s career with the Braves.

Forever a divisive figure due to his inconsistencies, Teheran was MLB Pipeline’s 4th-highest ranked prospect in 2011 and became the face of Atlanta’s pitching staff for several years.  

Like Freddie Freeman, Teheran was a pillar of the rebuild who remained through the Atlanta Braves tear-down.

When viewing Teheran’s present usefulness in context with the multitudes of high-upside pitching prospects due to debut in Atlanta over the next several seasons, Teheran could be a useful trade chip.  

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Would AA attempt to build a deal for Teheran to the pitching-hungry Cubs for one of their young position players?  Could the Twins be a fit as they try to bolster their rotation and ride their 2017 momentum in 2018?   Would Anthopoulos try to attach Matt Kemp’s contract to a Teheran deal to trim payroll?

However things shake out, Teheran will certainly be a talking point in this off-season market.