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Braves rumors: Atlanta will pursue free-agent starter this winter

As the Braves move closer to competing for the NL East title again, they’ll be looking to boost their starting rotation.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Toronto Blue Jays
Photo by John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Looking to become more competitive in advance of their first season at SunTrust Park, the Braves turned to the free agent and trade markets this past offseason to bolster their rotation, adding Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey and Jaime Garcia. With all three of those veteran starters’ contracts expiring following the 2017 season, though, Atlanta will be free to pursue more long-term solutions this winter.

As Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports writes, the Braves are preparing to be active in the free-agent starting pitching market this offseason. There will certainly be more intriguing starters available for Atlanta after this season than there were after 2016, when just five starting pitchers received multi-year deals on the free agent market.

Notable pitchers who could potentially be available as free agents this winter include Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Johnny Cueto, Yu Darvish, Marco Estrada, Jeremy Hellickson, Lance Lynn, Chris Tillman and Jason Vargas. Obviously, the Braves could also opt to retain any or all of Colon, Dickey, and Garcia, but the veteran starters all currently have earned run averages exceeding 4.00.

The Braves also have a talented crop of starting pitching prospects which includes Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, Sean Newcomb, Ian Anderson and Max Fried, among others, but Heyman writes that Atlanta’s top starting prospects are “probably a couple years away,” so it’s likely that they’ll seek at least one outside veteran to complement rotation mainstays Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz.