Young starting pitching seems to be the biggest need for the Royals, but with the starting pitching free agent market in shambles, teams may hoard the arms they have. One organization that may look to deal pitching is the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves are in a unique situation where they could be buyers or sellers due to their rebuilding effort. They have already added two free agent pitchers on short-term deals in Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey. The signings could be to serve as a one-year gap before more prospects begin to make their way up to the big league level. It could also free them up to trade the young starting pitchers they currently have to fill other needs. One such pitcher who might be available is Mike Foltynewicz.
Royals fans saw what Foltynewicz (pronounced “ful-ta-nev-ich”) could do first-hand when he tossed eight shutout innings in Kansas City back in May. The right-hander finished the season with a 4.31 ERA and 4.24 FIP in 22 starts, and missed nearly a month with bone chips in his elbow. It was a big step forward for the former Astros first-round pick, who put up a 5.71 ERA in 86 2⁄3 innings for Atlanta in 2015. The 25-year old, who was acquired by the Braves in a trade for Evan Gattis has struck out 8.0 per-nine-innings in his career as a starter.
Foltynewicz features a fastball that sits in the mid-90s with a slider and a changeup. He can be a bit home run-prone, with a rate of 1.52 per-nine-innings, with most of those home runs coming on the road.
Foltynewicz is still cheap and young with some upside, so the asking price will not be low. He won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2017 season and won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season. The Braves ultimately may hold onto Foltznewicz as part of their building towards a contender. But with Julio Teheran and Matt Wisler already in tow, and prospects Aaron Blair, Tyrell Jenkins, Sean Newcomb, and Lucas Sims close to MLB-ready with more top prospects in the lower levels, the Braves could have pitching to spare. A package centered around Hunter Dozier might be enough to get the Braves interested in a swap, but don’t expect them to be motivated sellers.