What would it take for a team to acquire Atlanta Braves ace Julio Teheran? That is a question a few teams will be asking as we approach the trade deadline.
Atlanta’s general manager John Coppolella recently told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (watch video above he starts talking about Teheran at 0:27) that the team would have to be “overwhelmed” to trade their ace. Coppolella said the team wants major league talent in return and “the days of moving guys like Teheran for prospects are over.” Teheran is extremely valuable right now, especially after the Nationals inked Stephen Strasburg to a seven-year, $175 million extension. Strasburg was considered the best free agent available in the upcoming offseason.
Teheran, 25, has looked very solid through his first 11 starts even though he hasn’t received the run support to show it, posting a 1-5 record. He enters the week in the top 15 in the National League in both ERA (2.77) and WAR (2.0) and also with an above average FIP (3.68).
Here are three teams that could strike a deal with the Braves:
3. Chicago Cubs
Chicago might not make sense to most people, especially since they lead the majors in ERA and are second in FIP, but pitching cost the Cubs in the NLCS last year and adding Teheran to the rotation as the number three or four starter would make this rotation almost unstoppable during postseason play. Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks have pretty much established themselves as quality starters, while Jason Hammel is having a career season. Lackey has also been great and the Cubs have him locked down through the 2017 season.
What could the Cubs do to make a trade for Teheran work? They could move one of their starters to the bullpen, play with six starters or include one in a trade for Teheran? I think the best option for the Cubs would be to play with six starters or move one to the bullpen, I doubt the Braves would want to take on Lackey’s or Hammel’s contract.
Now lets get to the trade options. The first deal would include Jorge Soler, a player the Braves have been eyeing since December, when the rumors of a trade between the two clubs started. Atlanta would send Teheran to Chicago in exchange for Soler, Willson Contreras and Billy McKinney. I don’t think the Braves will do a straight up deal for Soler, since he’s yet to prove that he can consistently play at the major league level. Contreras, 24, is close to major league ready and is currently blocked by Miguel Montero and David Ross, but is set to take over the starting role in 2018. This trade would also open the door for Kris Bryant to make the move to left field and Javier Baez to third base permanently.
My second and last option for a deal between these two teams would be for the Braves to send Teheran and John Gant to the Cubs in exchange for Soler and Baez. The Braves are asking a lot for their ace and I think this is the deal they’re waiting on.
Option 1 – Teheran for Soler, Contreras, McKinney
Option 2 – Teheran and Gant for Baez and Soler
2. Houston Astros
The Astros have been really bad this season and it has some fans thinking that last year was just a fluke. Their team ERA is an astonishing 4.38, while the offense is averaging just four runs per nine innings, which is 26 in all of baseball. Houston’s ace Dallas Keuchel has been awful this season, posting a 5.58 ERA and a -0.4 WAR. Their number two, Collin McHugh, hasn’t done much better this season with a 5.13 ERA and a -0.2 WAR. They’ve had just one bright spot in their rotation this spring, with that being rookie right-hander Chris Devenski, who has a 2.79 ERA in 38 2/3 innings, but now he’s back in the bullpen and the starting rotation has continued to struggle.
Julio Teheran would be the perfect fit for the Astros rotation and maybe his success could help turn around the rest of the rotation. Houston would have to give up a hefty sum to acquire Teheran and that package would mostly likely include either Alex Bregman, A.J. Reed or George Springer. I included Springer because the Braves want a similar age position player under team control and Springer fits that profile. Teheran has a 7.4 WAR since 2014, while Springer has a WAR of 8.3. Houston would need to receive something else to make this deal work in my opinion. The Braves could also include John Gant and Braxton Davidson, making this deal tough for the Astros to turn down.
The Braves could also go the route of offering Nick Markakis, Gant and Teheran for Springer, but it may be tough to make the money work, so the Astros could throw Doug Fister into the mix. Option three and the most feasible would be Bregman, Daz Cameron and Riley Ferrell for Teheran. I know Coppolella said the Braves are done trading for prospects, but Bregman is almost ready for the big leagues and can play third base, which is a position of need in Atlanta. Imagine an infield consisting of Bregman, Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman. That could eventually compete for one of the best in the game. Ferrell has all the making of a future closer, which gives Atlanta the opportunity to deal Arodys Vizcaino, who’s trade value may never be higher. Cameron on the other hand is still a few years away, but would make this a deal that would be hard for the Braves to refuse. Yea, the Astros may lose out on a couple of future studs, but they have a crowded outfield already with Springer, Jake Marisnick and Kyle Tucker is already looking like a star in the making. Houston already has Carlos Correa at short, Colin Moran at third and Jose Altuve at second, which makes Bregman expendable.
Option 1 – Teheran, Gant and Davidson for Springer
Option 2 – Teheran, Markakis and Gant for Springer and Fister
Option 3 – Teheran for Bregman, Cameron and Ferrell
1. Boston Red Sox
Boston is looking a lot like the team we expected to see last season, but there is still one huge problem and that is starting pitching. Steven Wright has been the Red Sox best pitcher this season, posting a 2.52 ERA and a 1.5 WAR, while David Price hasn’t looked like his usual self with a 5.11 ERA and a 0.0 WAR. You could assume that this team would be at the bottom of the league if it wasn’t for their explosive offense, which is currently leading the league in runs (295), on-base percentage (.359), slugging percentage (.483), batting average (.295) and doubles (131).
The Red Sox have plenty of talent in the minors right now and could afford to give up some of their top prospects for a quality number two. The one player the Braves will ask for is Boston’s top prospect Yoan Moncada, who they consider a once in a generation prospect, but with Dustin Pedroia under contract through 2021 and Travis Shaw appearing to have third base locked down through the same year makes Moncada expendable for a starter. The Braves could also include Vizcaino in a deal to receive Moncada, Andrew Benintendi and Michael Chavis. That deal would the Braves exactly what they need in hitting prospects, with Benintendi and Moncada being close to major league ready and Chavis, who’s still a few years away. The deal would give Boston a quality number two and a solid setup man in front of Craig Kimbrel.
Option 1 – Teheran and Vizcaino for Moncada, Benintendi and Chavis
Option 2 – Teheran and Gant for Moncada, Blake Swihart and Chavis
Two other teams that may take a look at Teheran would be the San Francisco Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates, but both of those teams might not have what the Braves are looking for. The Braves would most likely ask for Starling Marte from the Pittsburgh, which would be turned down pretty quickly. Atlanta wanted Matt Duffy or Joe Panik for Teheran or Shelby Miller during the Winter, but didn’t want to make the deal. Now, Duffy is struggling and I doubt the Braves would want to do a deal without including one of the Giants top prospects.
The Braves have a lot of options when it comes to Teheran and they may decide to keep him, but right now his value is soaring and they could add some really talented bats to go with an already loaded farm system.