The Atlanta Braves made the decision to make three different trades leading up to the non-tender deadline, opening up several spots on their 40-man roster and also clearing up some money.
After back-to-back disappointing NLDS exits at the hands of their division rivals, the Braves now seem desperate to put together the best possible roster as they try to win the 2024 World Series. Jim Bowden of The Athletic (subscription required) says "It’s expected they’ll make a huge splash sooner rather than later" after clearing roster space and adding payroll flexibility.
The biggest possible splash Atlanta can make would be signing Shohei Ohtani. Even with their newly found flexibility, that still seems incredibly unlikely. There are, however, four moves that seem to be very realistic for GM Alex Anthopoulos
1) The Braves can sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto after Alex Anthopoulos sheds salary
While an Ohtani signing seems farfetched, the idea of Atlanta swooping in and signing the second-biggest Japanese free agent we've seen in a long time could be on Anthopoulos' mind.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto comes to North America extremely decorated. He's won three consecutive Sawamura Awards (equivalent to the Cy Young) and seems to only be improving. This past season, he posted a 1.21 ERA in 23 starts and 164 innings pitched for the Orix Buffaloes of the NPB. He struck out 169 batters compared to 28 walks while allowing just two home runs all season. Just absurd numbers.
While a 1.21 ERA certainly wouldn't be the expectation when Yamamoto makes the transition to MLB, there's every reason to believe he'll be an ace. A three-headed monster of Spencer Strider, Max Fried, and Yamamoto would be virtually impossible to top, and with Fried potentially departing after the season, Atlanta still having Strider and Yamamoto would keep them with two frontline arms for the long term.
What should put this over the top for Atlanta is his age. Yamamoto is just 25 years old while the other elite pitchers are around or over the age of 30. Even with a seven or eight-year deal, Yamamoto will be in or around his prime, leaving minimal chance of regression. Atlanta was willing to give several years to a much older pitcher in Aaron Nola, so giving more years to Yamamoto should be no problem.
Yes, there's a bit more risk with Yamamoto not pitching in MLB before, but there's every reason to believe he'll be just fine. Kodai Senga came to the majors with nowhere near the same hype as Yamamoto and wound up putting up Cy Young caliber numbers.