If you missed part 1 of the series, you can read here.
It’s no secret that the Braves want a back-end bullpen piece for the stretch run. It’s also no secret that there are very few guaranteed stud relievers from year to year as the inning sample size in 1 individual year is so much smaller than a starting pitcher that results can vary greatly. However, there are relievers that are near locks at giving quality innings and those guys are going to be our focus for this exercise.
In the previous piece concerning Starting Pitcher targets, I deciphered that there are 7 teams willing to deal right now. Here are those teams:
Blue Jays, Orioles, Tigers, Royals, Mariners, Marlins, Giants, Reds
The following list comes strictly from those teams and while some of the players on the list might not even be available, they will be discussed in full detail just to annoy all of you. Let’s get to it!
Relief Pitching Targets
Ken Giles– (Toronto Blue Jays) under team control through 2020.
Make no mistake, RHP Ken Giles might be crazy. Make no mistake (yes, again), crazy closers are frickin’ fun to watch. When right, Giles rocks a heater that touches 100, a slider that leaves the strike zone, and a ground ball rate that is 42%. That’s it. That’s his calling card. That…and he’s crazy. He just recently went on the IL with elbow inflammation so that will be something to keep an eye during this holiday (trade) season. If he ends up being able to overcome the injury and show he’s healthy, it could be good for teams looking to acquire his services as any elbow news is bad news for value.
David Hernandez (Cincinnati Reds) Free Agent after 2019
Remember when RHP David Hernandez was a Brave and then he was traded and then he went on to become a good reliever and then our bullpen went on to sucking? /RantOver. Hernandez’s ERA looks troublesome but there’s a lot to like with a great K-rate (12/9 IP) and a BB-rate under 3 per 9. Aside from ERA, everything else lines up with his career numbers and I’d bet good $ that he’s going to even out his production for the rest of 2019.
Will Smith– (San Francisco Giants) Free Agent after 2019
The ultimate relief rental, LHP Will Smith is frickin’ electric and has a track record that dates back to 2015 of consistently great work. He’s typically a fastball/slider guy but mixes a few other pitches in just to keep batters honest. Will calls Newnan, GA home, so even if he’s not acquired this year, I’m sure he’d be interested to call Atlanta his team in 2020. The Giants will no doubt deal him.
Amir Garrett– (Cincinnati Reds) Under team control through 2023
Amir likely isn’t going anywhere. He’s part of the back end of a dynamic 1-2 punch that includes Raisel Igelsias. The problem is that he plays for the Reds and they rarely give him those opportunities. Another FB/slider LHP, Amir’s cost would be through the roof but I’d be down like a clown to scoop him up for a poor king’s ransom.
Ian Kennedy– (Kansas City Royals) Under team control though 2020
Still getting paid to be a SP (16.5MM in’19 and ‘20), Kennedy has had a career resurgence as a reliever after putting up back to back years of below average production as a starting pitcher. Currently carrying a K-rate of 11.8/9 and a miniscule BB-rate of 1.6/9, Kennedy, and his ability to keep the ball on the ground would fit in well with this club.
Trevor Gott– (San Francisco Giants) Under team control though 2023
There are many pitchers to try and pluck from the Giants, but none comes with as much team control as RHP Trevor Gott. Just recently activated off the IL from a forearm strain, Gott is someone to keep an eye on as the Giants literally got him for nothing and would likely be willing to sell high on him. He strikes out over a batter per inning and the low BB-rate and high GB-rate would fit nicely with the Braves.
Raisel Iglesias– (Cincinnati Reds) Under team control through 2021
It would be great if the Reds got buyer’s remorse on RHP Iglesias and decided to trade him at the deadline, but I can’t see that happening. Annual commitment jumps to 9MM in 2020 and is the same for 2021, but that’s hardly a deterrent for pulling off a trade for him. While he might not be the Reds best reliever anymore, he would immediately become the Braves best and, depending if Reds host a firesale or not, could be available…but my guess is no. Fastball has lost some velo these past 2 years which has also decreased its value and that’s a bit worrisome, but his offspeed stuff is still plus.
Shane Greene– (Detroit Tigers) Under team control through 2020
Don’t be fooled by the nice, shiny ERA of a relief pitcher and that’s what RHP Shane Greene is at the moment and that’s how the Tigers will advertise him. Still, he’s plenty good and would likely do well with the Braves with an over 50% GB-rate and healthy BB and K rates. Greene doesn’t possess the velo that some of these other trade candidates carry, but there’s value there as it’s well located and rarely straight. Due to the buy high nature, he’d be a little way down my list of acquisitions.
Nick Anderson– (Miami Marlins) Under team control through 2025 (at least)
Another product of what has turned into a surprisingly young and good Marlins pitching staff, Anderson has Kimbrel-esque peripherals without Kimbrel-esque results. Another fastball/slider guy that has found more success in the slider than the fastball and that’s why he’s used it more in recent outings dating back to May 27th. He’s 28 and just getting started and could skyrocket with refinement…or could fizzle out into the great nothing if he’s not adaptable.
Sam Dyson– (San Francisco Giants) Under team control through 2020
It’s easy to jump on the Will Smith bandwagon, but Dyson is almost equally worthy of our attention. The fastball is his calling card and has the bite to be the it pitch for him, inducing ground ball after ground ball. As a Braves fan, this is what we should be looking for in a pitcher coming from a pitcher friendly park, and his 64.3% GB-rate is music to my years.
Robert Stephenson– (Cincinnati Reds) Under team control through 2023
Another Reds reliever and another good pitcher, Stephenson is striking out over 12 per 9 and walking 3.6 per 9. Like nearly ever Red that I’ve listed here, I cannot imagine he’ll be traded as he comes with so much control, but he’s already 26 and there could be reasons to sell high as relievers are volatile. Uses his slider more than his fastball so that should give Mike Fast a fun toy to play with should AA pull off a trade.
Thanks for reading? Who’s your choice from the list? Got another idea? Let’s hear it!
Long live, Braves Journal!