The Braves want to acquire a starting pitcher before the trade deadline hits on Tuesday. The staff's ERA ranks them among the worst in the National League, even with the recent emergence of Ben Sheets. Atlanta has the prospects and money to get just about any deal done, but general manager Frank Wren will not sacrifice multiple prospects for a rental player.
It was a busy week for trades around baseball, and despite the Braves being linked to just about every player dealt, they eventually came up short for one reason or another.
With about 72 hours left to make a trade, Wren is facing a limited number of options.
Zack Greinke was dealt to the Angels on Friday, so he is off the market. Cole Hamels signed a multi-year extension with the Phillies. Anibal Sanchez of the Marlins was dealt to Detroit, and it appears Josh Johnson won't be moved for anything less than a king's ransom.
Ryan Dempster remains on the market, although it's tough to envision him coming to Atlanta following the debacle earlier in the week. The Braves have pulled their offer, meaning the Cubs would have to renegotiate any proposal. It is still possible a trade gets worked out, but it doesn't seem likely as of Saturday afternoon.
James Shields of the Rays is a very attractive target, but reports are indicating the price is extremely high given his team-friendly contract. Shields would be a great addition to the rotation and Tampa Bay is known to be fond of Braves catching prospect Christian Bethancourt, but they'd likely require at least one more top prospect in any deal. That's an awfully steep price to pay for a pitcher who has struggled the last two months.
Francisco Liriano or Jason Vargas could be acquired, but they aren't the front-end pitcher Wren is known to want. Neither of these two would be much of an upgrade over Randall Delgado or Kris Medlen as a fifth starter.
The lack of options might prompt Wren to search for bullpen help. Medlen has been moved to the starting rotation as of right now, so you'd imagine at least two relievers would be needed to help solidify a bullpen that has struggled at times.
As for now, Atlanta will continue checking on the asking prices for each pitcher. There is no reason to worry and plenty of time remains before Tuesday's deadline, but you have to start wondering whether or not Wren will strike a big deal.