JUST IN: Does this solution make sense for the Braves in 2024?

Despite falling short in the postseason, the Atlanta Braves had arguably the most complete roster, leading all other teams in team fWAR with 56.3. The Rays were the next closest team in terms of total fWAR, with 53.5.

That being said, it could be argued that they will be in trouble with their rotation in 2024 if the front office does not act. The Braves ranked ninth in MLB in fWAR for SP with 11.7, but strikeout king Spencer Strider accounts for 5.5 of that total.

The Braves’ lack of rotation depth in the regular season was somewhat obscured by the fact that they scored 5.84 runs per game, a full.25 runs per game higher than the Nationals.

Despite never truly having a full rotation, the Braves were able to dominate in the regular season. In fact, the Braves used fifteen different pitchers during the season, with only three players appearing in at least fifteen games.

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Charlie Morton, one of these three players, has yet to confirm whether or not he will retire. He does have a club option in his contract if he wants to delay retirement for at least another year.

Kyle Wright will be sidelined for the rest of 2024 after undergoing surgery. Max Fried, if healthy, would undoubtedly start more games than the fourteen he did in 2023, and Spencer Strider should continue to be dominant.

As can be seen, there are some unanswered questions regarding the rotation. Will Bryce Elder play a significant role? He appeared in 31 games and made one postseason appearance. However, in his final fifteen starts, he struggled to a 5.49 ERA, 5.24 FIP, and 1.46 WHIP in 78.2 innings.

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Will Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd be used by the Braves? Both of these pitchers showed flashes of promise in their limited exposure at the highest level, but ultimately struggled. Will AJ Smith-Shawver be included in the plans? The Braves could have traded him at the deadline, but instead kept him, implying that he could be used in 2024.

Many of the questions will have to be answered later, possibly even during the regular season next year. Some of these questions, however, can be answered by adding to the rotation through free agency.

This offseason, there are many starting pitchers available in free agency, including big names like Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Julio Urias, Aaron Nola, Blake Snell, Sonny Gray, and others. The Braves, who are already close to the luxury tax threshold, may want to look into some less expensive options.

Kenta Maeda is one pitcher who really stands out as a viable option. He has the potential to be a low-risk, high-reward signing. Due to an injury, he did not pitch in 2022 and pitched 104.1 innings in 2023, potentially lowering his ERA.

He has been consistent throughout his career and has shown signs of being very good. In seven seasons and 866.1 innings, he has an ERA of 3.92, a FIP of 3.74, a WHIP of 1.140, and a strikeout rate of 9.9 per nine innings. During the shortened COVID season, he finished second in the Cy Young voting with an outstanding 8.00 SO/W ratio, while also leading the league with a 0.750 WHIP and a 2.70 ERA. Of course, small sample sizes can produce outlier results, and he would not have carried those numbers over the course of a season. He has, however, demonstrated that he can be an above-average to great pitcher.

If we look at his peripherals for the most recent season, they are as follows:

His xERA was in the top 33.0 percent of MLB, his xBA was in the top 34.0 percent, his chase rate was in the top 24.0 percent, his swing and miss percentage was in the top 34.0 percent, his strikeout rate was in the top 23.0 percent, and his walk rate was in the top 22.0 percent.

This resulted in an xwOBA of.300 against him. In comparison, the league average xwOBA against was.350. Maeda’s xwOBA is 14.2 percent higher than the league average.


His ERA in 2023 was 4.23, which is nothing to write home about. However, when we consider that his xERA was much lower at 3.77, it appears to be more appealing.

We can also see from his BABIP of.293 and strand rate of 74.1 percent that there are no red flags (at least in these terms) pointing to him getting lucky in 2023.

Maeda has never been a true fWAR king, with his season high being 2.9. When healthy, he is a solid presence who can help almost any team.

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Surprisingly, he has not been mentioned as a popular name as a potential target in forums or on social media. Of course, the front office makes decisions that are unaffected by the media, but it appears that Maeda could be had for a low price because there are several pitchers ahead of him in the draft.

Having said that, Maeda could be a cheap option to help fill out the Braves’ back half of the rotation. With so many unknowns surrounding the rotation, adding a player like Maeda, who will not command the same salary as Sonny Gray, makes a lot of sense.

It will ultimately come down to the contract and whether it makes sense for the Atlanta Braves. The Atlanta Braves’ rotation arm will not be their only move, so all of the puzzle pieces must fit.

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