Coppy has said he’s looking to add two starters, which is a good thing since Tyrell Jenkins, John Gant and especially Williams Perez belong nowhere near a major league rotation.
But the Braves GM should completely forego the free agent route, where the best candidates are Ivan Nova, Clay Buchholz and Jaime Garcia (if the Cards don’t exercise his $11 million option). Each will make way more money than they deserve. None can be counted on.
So that leaves the trade market, and the Braves might have some options here. Tampa Bay has rotation depth, an underwhelming set of prospects, a hard-on for controllable years and a glaring need for a speedy outfielder.
Forget about Chris Archer — he’d cost way too much talent. Instead, Coppy should focus on southpaw Drew Smyly, who has two years left until free agency, AND right-hander Jake Odorizzi, arbitration-eligible for the first time.
I won’t pretend that Smyly and Odorizzi are Glavine and Smoltz, but they’re slightly better than league average with the potential for better. Smyly’s numbers appear nearly identical to Wisler’s (4.88 ERA vs. 5.00; 1.272 WHIP vs. 1.328, 8.9 H/9 IP vs. 9.1 H/9) but his peripherals tell a different story. Smyly, 27, averaged two more strikeouts per 9 innings pitched and has a track record that Wisler lacks (570.1 IP, 3.74 ERA, 1.199 WHIP, 8.7 K/9). Still, it’s hard to judge the former Tigers farmhand’s 2016 season because it was so damn weird. In the first half, he averaged 9.7 strikeouts per 9 IP but had a 5.47 ERA. His K/9 rate dropped by more than 2 in the second half but he also fashioned a 4.08 ERA after the break.
Odorizzi, 26, is your quintessential middle of the rotation-type, with 17 quality starts in 33 appearances. Eleven of those came in 14 second half starts in which Odorizzi posted a 2.71 ERA. He finished with a 3.69 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 166 K and 54 BB in 187.2 IP, pretty much on par with his 2015 numbers, save for a sizable bump in HR allowed (in a year when homers skyrocketed).
So what would it take to Smyly and Odorizzi? Tough to say, but I’d be willing to part with some combination of Mallex Smith, Matt Wisler, Lucas Sims, Mike Soroka and young SS Derian Cruz. Remember, you gotta give something to get something and none of these prospects projects as a star. I’m sure Tampa will ask for more but this deal would save money and restock a depleted farm system.