Potential Braves trade target to replace Spencer Strider nailing his auditions

One realistic Atlanta Braves target is looking quite good out of the gate.
Paul Blackburn, Oakland Athletics
Paul Blackburn, Oakland Athletics / Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves were dealt bad news on Saturday morning when it was announced that Spencer Strider will miss the rest of the 2024 season after undergoing surgery on his right UCL. Without their top ace in the mix, Atlanta's rotation goes from the best in baseball to exceedingly vulnerable.

While there are plenty of in-house options to paper over the Strider absence, from the recently recalled Allen Winans to 2023 All-Star and current Brian Snitker doghouse resident Bryce Elder, another (perhaps more appealing) option is to acquire another proven starter via trade.

We know the Braves don't want to commit serious long-term money to another ace, as evidenced by their quiet free agency and reluctance to negotiate with Max Fried. That said, a reasonably priced trade candidate could appeal to Alex Anthopoulos in his hour of need. The Braves are built to contend, but Strider's injury leaves the bullpen at serious risk.

Fried missed a good chunk of last season. Chris Sale hasn't pitched 140 innings since 2019. Charlie Morton is 40 years old. All of a sudden, the Braves' pitching staff is a house of cards built upon a windy cliff. All it takes is one more gust of wind to send the whole thing crashing down, and down, and down.

Thankfully, there are options, and one option is Oakland Athletics (Sacramento Athletics? Las Vegas-In-Spirit Athletics?) ace Paul Blackburn. He happens to be off to a very good start this season, which could pique Atlanta's interest.

Potential Braves target Paul Blackburn is on fire for the A's

Across three starts, Blackburn has pitched 19.1 innings without giving up a single earned run. He has allowed 11 hits compared to 11 strikeouts and only relinquished three walks. His 0.724 WHIP and 2.58 FIP probably has the Braves' attention. It should, at least.

It's becoming harder and harder to consider the Athletics a respectable MLB franchise. That isn't the players' fault, but Oakland has no real use for a 30-year-old pitcher that can actually supply quality innings. If anything, the A's would probably relish the chance to offload Blackburn and stack up more high draft picks.

Blackburn is the perfect Braves trade target, frankly. He has one more year of arbitration eligibility after this season and there's a pretty real chance his value in the eyes of arbiters is tanked by the cesspool of failure he has so unfortunately occupied for the last eight years. The Braves can get a solid starter for dirt cheap, without worrying about his next deal until the winter of 2025. Even if he does sign an extension, it won't cost the Braves half as much as Max Fried.

All it would take is a couple of solid prospects to get Oakland (Sacramento???) on the phone. Blackburn is probably over-taxed as the A's only good starter, but as option No. 4 in Atlanta? Well, he might just thrive in a winning environment.