Last year was another perfect example of what the Atlanta Braves have been over the past 20 years: an organization that is capable of putting a quality product on the field, but never quite able to get that final piece needed to be a legitimate World Series contender.
For two years in a row now, many have said the Braves would not compete without a formidable ace atop the starting rotation. That was more than evident as they went up against the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs this year. Facing the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke should have been proof enough to the organization that it was time to man up and find that top-of-the-rotation arm.
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As this offseason goes on, it seems more and more likely the Braves will not make a run at the best arm on the market in David Price. While the Atlanta farm system isn’t at its best right now, the Braves have some nice pieces in Lucas Sims and J.R. Graham that could probably spark interest from the Tampa Bay Rays.
But instead of taking that giant leap and establishing themselves as legitimate World Series contenders, many are already settling for the the possibility that Jeff Samardzija or Kyle Lohse may be all fans could expect. While those may be improvements to the rotation, they’re not what the Braves need.
Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran and Brandon Beachy are an outstanding group of young pitchers, but they were exposed in the playoffs — with the exception of Minor having a solid outing in the Braves only postseason win.
None of those guys stand out as someone who can anchor a rotation like a David Price can. Price is the kind of pitcher who can sit at the top of a rotation and strike fear into opposing lineups. He’s someone who can matchup against any pitcher in the playoffs. This is exactly the type of pitcher the Braves have to have if they want to be legitimate World Series contenders.
The one thing that plagues the Braves from joining the upper echelon of Major League Baseball is their mediocre payroll. I think those within the Braves organization know that signing Dave Price is exactly what the team needs to do, but with so many young players expected to get a boost in arbitration, the Braves are scared they won’t be able to afford a David Price, who is set to make around $12 million this year and possibly $14 million the year after before becoming a free agent.
I’m tired of hearing that the Braves are constrained by money, and I believe the fan base is as well. It showed in the playoffs when neither home playoff game was sold out. Fans are tired of mediocrity and ready to see this team and organization put on their big-boy pants and put a legitimate World Series contender on the field. There is a small window here with this young core of players that shouldn’t be wasted.
If the Braves want to win a World Series and give this fan base what it deserves, they need to give up what few prospects they have to bring in the ace they need. The Washington Nationals are not standing by; they’ve made moves to improve an already outstanding rotation. It’s time for the Braves to show they mean business in the National League East.
Trading for David Price is the right, and only move that can help the Braves win another division title, while at the same time giving them their best opportunity at winning a World Series.