The Braves saved themselves from one bad deal. Now it's time to make a big splash.
The story is well known by now: the Braves reportedly had reached a deal with the Chicago Cubs to send Ryan Dempster to Atlanta for the final two months of the season. Just about every baseball source in the industry confirmed the news, but Dempster, who has a full no-trade clause due to his 10-and-5 rights, refused to accept and wanted more time to make a decision.
The potential deal to acquire Dempster was an interesting one for the Braves. He would immediately improve a starting rotation that has ranked among the worst in baseball this season, but the cost was steep with Randall Delgado reportedly heading to Chicago.
It was the perfect example of a win-now move. The Braves get a veteran for the playoff push, and they get rid of a young, controllable player who has a promising future.
Some teams in baseball are fortunate enough to be able to live off these kinds of move. The Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and others can make these moves because of their deep pockets and few financial restrictions. Not the Braves.
The next step for general manager Frank Wren is continue evaluating any and all options on the trade market before the July 31 deadline hits. This is the right move for Atlanta.
Last year, as the Braves were seemingly determined to find a right-handed slugger, Hunter Pence was the topic of all trade rumors. He was in the midst of a career year -- just as Dempster is now -- and was going to cost a lot due to the many contenders interested in acquiring him. As other teams made their push for Pence, Atlanta quietly went about their business and backed off.
The next target: Michael Bourn. That deals seems to be working out nicely now.
There are surprisingly a ton of pitching options out on the market this time of year. Zack Greinke's name remains in the thick of all trade rumors surrounding the Braves. Jon Lester and James Shields, two very talented pitchers from the American League East, could both reportedly be moved in the right deal. Josh Johnson of the Marlins could be dealt, although it seems unlikely they would trade him within the division.
Still, there is no denying Wren and the Braves have plenty of options to make a deal. And with it looking more and more like Dempster will not be coming to Atlanta, this could all be a blessing in disguise.
Outside of Greinke, all of the pitchers named above are under contract through at least 2013. And if Wren somehow acquired Greinke, there is little doubt within the industry that he would be willing to sign a contract extension to remain in Atlanta for years to come.
Given the contract and age situations -- none of them are older than 31 -- these are the pitchers the Braves should be pursuing in the coming days. A 34-year-old veteran on the downside of a long career is not the answer.