The Atlanta Braves have contended all year with their young stars. They still have plenty of players left down on the farm, and they have sent four prospects Jean Carlos Encarnacion, Brett Cumberland, Evan Phillips, and Bruce Zimmerman to the Baltimore Orioles to acquire Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day.
Braves exchange some of the future for the present
Going for a starting pitcher made sense for the Atlanta Braves. Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb have steadied the front of the rotation for the Braves, but Atlanta has had a hard time settling on the three remaining spots in the rotation. Julio Teheran has had an awful season. Anibal Sanchez and Brandon McCarthy have put in respectable but not solid performances when starting. Michael Soroka, Max Fried, Matt Wisler, and Luiz Gohara also have all started for Atlanta, so the team needed a pitcher to bring some consistency to the back of the rotation.
Choosing Gausman is an interesting choice, but it looks like a good one for the Braves. Gausman has a home run problem. He only once has recorded a HR/FB ratio of less than 13% (league average is usually around 10%), but he could enjoy the change in scenery, and possibly even thrive. SunTrust Park has the lowest home run park factor in the majors in 2018, so Gausman could stop giving up so many homers. Beyond the home runs, the 4.43 ERA, 4.58 FIP, and 4.0 xFIP may not look fantastic, but he brings a semblance of consistency to Atlanta’s rotation. Gausman also remains under team control through 2020, so the Braves have two-and-a-half more seasons to help him grow into a potential front of the rotation starter.
As for O’Day, the Braves did not desperately need to add another reliever to their bullpen as AJ Minter, Dan Winkler, Shane Carle, and Arodys Vizcaino have all pitched well. But no team has never had too much pitching, especially out the bullpen. O’Day further strengthens the bullpen, making the Atlanta an even more dangerous team in October, if the team gets a chance to play in the postseason.
Orioles move another and get value back
Baltimore had to move Gausman this season. The team had already committed to a full rebuild after trading Manny Machado and Zach Britton, so trading Gausman made sense. During the last three full seasons up in Baltimore, Gausman posted his best season in 2016 (3.61 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 3.77 xFIP), while has 2018 numbers (4.33, 4.58, 4.05) are like his 2017 numbers (4.68, 4.48, 4.43). Gausman had shown signs he had reached his maximum level in Baltimore, meaning he could only decrease his value by spending more time pitching at Camden Yards. The Orioles did well to move him before he becomes unmovable.