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Atlanta Braves Named Top Landing Spot for Jesús Luzardo

With a wave of injuries, the Atlanta Braves are gearing up to be major contenders as the 2024 MLB trade deadline approaches.

Addressing the Outfield and Beyond

An upgrade in the outfield seems inevitable to replace the injured Ronald Acuña Jr., who is out for the season with a torn ACL. This is a situation GM Alex Anthopoulos has navigated before, and there’s little doubt he will attempt to do the same this year. However, Anthopoulos is known for his ability to strengthen various areas of the roster, even those that appear to be strong.

The Need for Pitching

While shortstop is one potential focus, the Braves’ pitching staff could also use reinforcement. Joel Reuter of Bleacher Report recently named the Braves the top landing spot for Marlins lefty Jesús Luzardo. The Braves’ pitching rotation has seen the emergence of Reynaldo López, but the season-ending elbow surgery for ace Spencer Strider has left a significant gap.

Rotation Woes and Potential Solutions

Prospect Spencer Schwellenbach made his MLB debut on Wednesday, following Bryce Elder, Darius Vines, Allan Winans, AJ Smith-Shawver, and Ray Kerr in trying to stabilize the rotation. Elder, an All-Star in 2023, has struggled with a 6.46 ERA in 23.2 innings over five starts and is currently working things out at the Triple-A level.

The Braves’ rotation has been strong at the top, but the instability in the fifth spot highlights the unproven nature of their depth. Luzardo could fill one of the few glaring holes on the roster.

Considering Jesús Luzardo

Adding another high-quality arm like Jesús Luzardo is appealing, but not solely for the reasons Reuter suggests. While the fifth rotation spot is less critical during the postseason, overall depth is crucial, especially considering potential injuries.

Spencer Schwellenbach shows promise, and Hurston Waldrep and AJ Smith-Shawver are expected back soon. Ian Anderson is also slated to return. However, health is never guaranteed, and the Braves’ success heavily relies on their pitching.

Long-Term Planning

Anthopoulos must also consider the future beyond this season. Max Fried is set to become a free agent, Charlie Morton is likely to retire, and Spencer Strider is recovering from a torn UCL. The Braves’ rotation for 2025 and beyond has many questions, and Luzardo, under team control through the 2026 season, could provide stability.

Hypothetical Trade

Reuter’s hypothetical trade involves the Braves acquiring LHP Jesús Luzardo in exchange for RHP Hurston Waldrep, RHP JR Ritchie, C Drake Baldwin, and RHP Lucas Braun. This trade appears fair for a pitcher of Luzardo’s caliber. Waldrep is a promising young prospect, but pitching prospects can be volatile. Ritchie, though promising, is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Baldwin is a solid catching prospect but isn’t a pressing need for the Braves with Sean Murphy in the lineup.

Final Thoughts

While the idea of acquiring Luzardo is enticing, Reuter naming the Braves the #1 landing spot raises questions. Is there really no other team in greater need of a starting pitcher? The Braves making a move for Luzardo makes sense, but they must consider the broader landscape and competition.

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