2. Braves should maximize their competitive window with Dylan Cease
The Atlanta Braves made their splashy offseason trade already. Chris Sale is going to provide ace-level production so long as he's healthy. Right now, few rotations stack up with Atlanta's one through four. Spencer Strider and Max Fried are Cy Young candidates. Sale still packs a punch. Charlie Morton, too. Even the Braves' perceived weak point in the No. 5 hole, Bryce Elder, was an All-Star last season... as a rookie.
From that perspective, maybe the Braves shouldn't be knocking down the door to spend top-dollar on Cease. But, the Braves have fallen short of their ultimate goal two years in a row despite being dominant in the regular season. Injuries gutted the Braves' bullpen in the 2023 playoffs. Cease is, at the very least, insurance.
More importantly, however, Cease helps Atlanta keep pace in the National League arms race. The Los Angeles Dodgers spent over $1 billion to improve their standing in the postseason race. That included adding Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Tyler Glasnow, two of the top starting arms in the MLB. The Braves can view Cease as an indirect answer to Los Angeles' big winter. He also helps Atlanta extend their competitive window. Max Fried is probably leaving as a free agent next offseason. Cease can fill that void when the time comes.
Cease fits the Braves' timeline. He's also set to make $8 million in 2024 — a bargain — with at least two years of team control left. That is a contract situation tailor-made for Alex Anthopoulos. Of note, Cease is an Atlanta local. He grew up a stone's throw away in Milton, GA, which could help the Braves convince him to re-sign when the time comes.