It has become a bit of a habit with the Atlanta Braves lately: if someone has trade value, they’re promptly traded for prospects.
And while there’s no doubt that was the best strategy for a team that desperately needed to be rebuilt, the Braves would be out of their minds to move pitcher Julio Teheran.
It’s clear that this roster will need a veteran presence or two in the clubhouse as a wave of young ballplayers makes its way to the big leagues in the coming years. For the pitching staff, Teheran could be that guy. Having a proven ace to anchor the rotation is key if you’re trying to return to the greatness of years past, and Teheran could keep the franchise from having to go out and seek such a pitcher in free agency.
Aside from that, Teheran has just been awesome in 2016. That’s what makes him more valuable in the trade market, sure, but it’s been so refreshing to watch Teheran dominate on the mound every fifth day in what has mostly been a forgettable season.
Teheran’s 2.66 ERA is on pace to be the lowest of his career, and his recent near-perfect-game against the New York Mets, in which he outdueled star pitcher Jacob deGrom, was possibly the finest moment of his career. In that outing, Teheran allowed just one baserunner and blanked the defending National League champions in a 6-0 win that clinched a sweep on the road.
The Braves have Teheran signed until 2020, so it’s a long time until they’ll have to give him his next contract. Of course, that makes him more attractive in the trade market, but it’s another reason the Braves should feel comfortable in keeping him.
Braves general manager John Coppolella recently told Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal that “the days of us trading players like Teheran for prospects are over. We need to get better at the major league level. We would have to be overwhelmed to move Teheran.” But there’s a chance a team will overwhelm them with a big haul to acquire Teheran, and when that happens, the front office can’t be swayed in their decision to keep the ace.
Trading Teheran would move the Braves back toward the 2015 fire sale, not the 2017 goal of contending. It’s too late to step backward again, and Teheran has been too good to send packing.
Photo: AP/Kathy WillensFollow @Sean_Breslin