Earlier today, I laid out a high-level overview of the cases both for and against the Braves trading Julio Teheran. While there are certainly some gray areas in making a decision — every player, no matter how good, becomes tradeable once the value received in exchange reaches a certain point — we’ve asked the entire staff at MLBTR to offer its thoughts on whether the Braves should be open to making a move or should hang onto their best starting pitcher.
You can read the above-linked post for more info on the 25-year-old righty. Or, skip right ahead to the opinions of the MLBTR team:
Tim Dierkes: As the saying goes, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” Teheran has been in the Braves’ organization for nearly a decade, and they know him better than anyone. It was that familiarity that led them to sign him to a deal guaranteeing $32.4MM back in 2014, a fairly aggressive extension for a pitcher with less than two years of Major League service time. Research from Matt Swartz has shown that it is hard to avoid lemons when signing away free agent pitchers from other teams. The Braves may have good money to spend this winter in advance of their new stadium opening, but in addition to the issue of the “Other People’s Players” premium Swartz discovered, the free agent market for starting pitching looks historically bad. Even with Teheran, the Braves will need to add significant starting pitching if they hope to contend in 2017. Verdict: Retain him.
Steve Adams: There’s virtually no scenario in which trading Teheran makes the Braves better in 2016, and they’d be hard-pressed to find a deal that makes them definitively better in 2017 — the year in which they supposedly aim to contend in a new stadium. The Braves have stocked their farm with pitching depth, but Teheran is their best pitcher in the Majors right now, and his $32.4MM contract has enough surplus value that the asking price could (and should) reasonably rival the Shelby Miller haul. A return of that magnitude strikes me as extremely unlikely, and given the backlash they’ve had from fans in John Coppolella’s first season as general manager, moving the team’s clear top starter for more young pieces wouldn’t sit well with their audience. Verdict: Retain him.
Jeff Todd: As things stand, Teheran has had great results in three of his four full seasons in the majors. He’s young, he racks up innings, and he has an appealing contract. On the other hand, he doesn’t have elite swinging strike rates, isn’t much of a groundball pitcher, and has always outperformed ERA estimators — yes, even in 2015 — which have recently viewed him as a ~4.00 (and change) performer. In large part, then, his value is dependent upon whether one believes that’s sustainable. He’s still a nice piece regardless, and at worst he provides Atlanta with a sturdy mid-rotation piece as it exposes its top prospects to the majors, but I’m actually in favor of looking to sell while the gettin’ is good. Teheran’s value is up, especially with a mediocre set of fellow trade targets and a seemingly barren free agent starter crop coming this winter, and frankly I’m not bullish on Atlanta’s 2017 outlook. Too many things need to go right, and the lackluster overall free agent class may not be conducive to building out a competitive roster for a reasonable price. PR considerations aside, a deal that includes at least a high-quality, advanced position-player prospect makes sense to me, even if a truly premium youngster can’t be had. Verdict: Shop him.
Mark Polishuk: The Braves’ long-stated plan was to return to contention when their new ballpark opens in April 2017. While that timeline may have been pushed back a bit thanks to their terrible record this season, the organization obviously still wants to be competitive sooner rather than later. Even if they wait until 2018 to make a push, that’s still well within the life of Teheran’s contract and the prime of his career. If I’m the Braves, I hang onto Teheran now (barring a Godfather offer from another team, of course) since I’d find myself looking for a Teheran-type of pitcher within a year or two anyway. Verdict: Retain him.
Charlie Wilmoth: Not to straddle the fence, but I think the Braves should strongly consider trading Teheran but keep him if they don’t get a return they like. A rebuilding team should consider trading any veteran starter in the midst of a good year. You never know when a pitcher might lose velocity, get hurt, or decline for other reasons, so keeping Teheran to pitch for a bad team is risky asset management. Teheran and Shelby Miller are different types of pitchers, but Miller’s case demonstrates that principle. Even leaving aside the terrific return the Braves wouldn’t have received if they hadn’t dealt Miller, how bad would it have been for Atlanta if the Braves had kept him and then he had a 2016 season like the one he’s having now with the Diamondbacks? On the other hand, Teheran is only 25 and is under control and cheap through 2020, so he could easily be part of the next good Braves team. Add in that the Braves would surely like to play well next season for the opening of their new ballpark, and there are compelling reasons to keep Teheran around. I’d try to deal him, but if the offers are underwhelming, holding on is reasonable too. Verdict: Hung jury!
Connor Byrne: The crop of starters who are expected to be available prior to the trade deadline looks mostly unappealing, as does the upcoming class of free agents, so the rebuilding Braves should at least shop Teheran. The next several months could serve as the perfect time frame for the Braves to get more for Teheran than he’s worth. If they put Teheran on the block and don’t get a palatable enough offer, then keeping him wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. With his team-friendly contract, Teheran won’t have to perform like much more than a back-end starter to provide value over the next few years, meaning the Braves won’t be in a negative position if they retain him. However, by no means should John Coppolella be so intent on acquiring a young, established major league hitter in return for Teheran that he summarily spurns other offers. Teheran’s only a year removed from a 4.00 ERA season with a below-average 2.34 K/BB ratio. We’re not talking about a Jose Fernandez-esque superstar here; rather, Teheran’s contract and durability are arguably the two best things he has going for him. The Braves shouldn’t need to be “overwhelmed” to trade him, then, even though Coppolella said otherwise last month. Verdict: Shop him.
That’s where we stand, but we’ll also open this one up to our readers with a poll (Link to poll for Trade Rumors mobile app users):