The Atlanta Braves have very much been all over the place this offseason, from their rumored involvement in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes (whew, the Los Angeles Dodgers won that one, though!), to the numerous roster-clearing trades they've made, to the additions of Jarred Kelenic and ... Chris Sale?!
Over the weekend, the trade market might've finally gotten the kick in the rear end it's needed ever since the Yankees-Padres Juan Soto deal. The Braves acquired Sale (and $17 million) for top prospect Vaughn Grissom. Could be a genius deal. Could be historically bad. We will see.
But how does it affect the Dodgers? Should LA have paid that price for the star left-hander despite his struggles with injuries ever since the 2018 World Series? They had the pieces to do it and Sale is an ace when healthy, and he seemed to turn the corner on that front in 2023.
That might be a discussion for another day, however. For now, the implications of this Braves-Red Sox trade are more important for the Dodgers.
Even though Atlanta traded from a position of depth in moving Grissom, they still had to part with a promising talent and put a dent in their farm system. Does that mean they're now no longer a prominent threat on the trade market, clearing a path for Andrew Friedman and LA's front office?
Did Braves clear path on trade market for Dodgers after Chris Sale deal?
Remember, the Braves have been mentioned in various trade rumors this offseason that centered around Dylan Cease and Tyler Glasnow. Though the Dodgers swung their deal for Glasnow and got him to sign an extension, the Braves have always felt like an obstacle to overcome in the Cease talks.
Los Angeles addressed its rotation with Glasnow and Yoshinobu Yamamoto for 2024 (and Ohtani for 2025, if all things go to plan), but more is needed. Bobby Miller is only entering his second MLB season while Walker Buehler is coming off his second Tommy John surgery and will be seeing his first action since 2022.
As for the rest of the rotation and the future of it? Clayton Kershaw still isn't re-signed. Julio Urías is as good as gone. Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin are out for 2024 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
The Cease talks were always going to be a bit complicated because of his talent and team control, but the Braves' reported involvement made it an even more daunting assignment for LA. Now, it seems Atlanta pivoted because of the slow-moving market and surrendered what would've been part of the haul going back to Chicago for Cease in the deal with Boston.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers possess plenty of coveted assets even after trading Ryan Pepiot, Jonny DeLuca, Victor Gonzalez and Jorbit Vivas this offseason. The Braves' farm system remains top-heavy with pitching while LA has a balance that might better satiate Chicago's needs.
Nothing's for certain, but it feels like the Dodgers both avoided a risky high-priced target and got a fellow contender out of the way in the starting pitching market.