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Atlanta Braves Trade Rumors: Ervin Santana is the Only Starter the Braves Should Consider

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COMMENTARY | Organizational complacency is something all sports fans revile about their clubs. If you're not getting better, you're getting worse. If you're not first, you're last. So every ticket-buying supporter with a foam finger on one hand and a $10 beer in the other demand their team be a major player at each trade deadline. In the case of the Atlanta Braves, fans may need to resign themselves to the fact that no move could be the best move for this season and beyond.

Yahoo! contributor John A. Tures offered up the top five trade options he thinks the Braves should consider, but, given the current trade landscape, Ervin Santana remains the only starting pitcher the Braves should try to acquire before the bell sounds on the 2013 MLB Trade Deadline.

The bigger names of Jake Peavy and Kyle Lohse have been bandied about as possible future residents of the great state of Georgia. However, deals for either player could eventually go down alongside some of the worst in franchise history.

Jake Peavy, SP, Chicago White Sox

Fans hear the name Peavy and immediately remember flashes of brilliance from the pitcher who took home the 2007 CY Young Award after leading the National League in wins, strikeouts and ERA in the same season for the San Diego Padres. Unfortunately, for any team that thinks this is the pitcher they would be acquiring, a lot has changed from his days in So-Cal.

At 32, Peavy is still relatively young, however, the often-injured right-hander has not been able to consistently stay on the mound. He has only totaled 30 or more starts once in the past six seasons. While some may think this detail is irrelevant for a player who just has to stay healthy enough to last the remainder of the season, Peavy's contract situation does not make him a mere one-year rental.

Peavy still has two years and $29.5 million coming his way. He would be an option if the White Sox agreed to pick up a chunk of that change, but, if Atlanta was expected to foot the majority of that bill, it would immediately make a lot of future decisions moot for the Braves.

Regardless of Tim Hudson's ability to rehab and get back for next season, the Braves would be unable to re-sign the free agent to-be if Peavy already has that money earmarked.

All of the ancillary details may be irrelevant if we stop to consider whether or not Peavy's 4.28 ERA is even worth giving up young pitching prospects in the first place. Now, if the Chi-Sox want to include relief pitcher Jesse Crain in the deal with Peavy, then Atlanta would need to give the deal more consideration. But a Peavy-only deal makes little sense for the Braves.

Kyle Lohse, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

Much like a potential Peavy deal, if the Brewers sweetened the package by adding Mike Gonzalez's much-needed left-handed bullpen arm to the mix, then all bets are off. But, strictly analyzing a deal for Lohse himself, the Braves would be wise to save their money.

Lohse has had a solid season for the Brew Crew so far, going 7-7 with a 3.37 ERA. The problem with Lohse is that he was able to turn his 16-3 season in 2012 into a 3-year, $33 million contract from Milwaukee. Lohse, 34, will be 37 years old before the contract is finished. The Braves would be tying their future to his right arm if such as deal was struck. All the concerns about Peavy are still there with Lohse, but he is also two years older.

Although Lohse has had a recent string of success, this is still a pitcher with four different MLB seasons of recording an ERA higher than five. In 2010, Lohse went 4-8 for the St. Louis Cardinals with an ERA of 6.55. If he was a player the Braves would only have to commit to for one season, then he may be the best option, but, as a future high-priced building block, he may be too risky.

Ervin Santana, SP, Kansas City Royals

Santana's 6-6 record may fool some people, but, considering the 30-year old right-hander has given up one run or less in four games in which he did not receive a decision, his record should be much better.

As the youngest pitcher of the trio of trade targets for the Braves, Santana is just now entering the prime of his career. He has made 30 or more starts each of the last three seasons and has already made it to the hill 20 times in 2013. His 3.06 ERA and 1.08 WHIP are also best along the group of possible Atlanta acquisitions.

While any of these three pitchers could be considered a front-end of the rotation player, Santana's contract is much more appealing. Santana is a free agent after this season is over. There would be no long-term obligation for the Braves to go get him from Kansas City. If the Braves are really serious about loading up for a World Series run, he may also be the best option from a lack-of-familiarity standpoint.

American League pitchers have a long history of improving when they come to the National League. C.C. Sabathia proved this to be true again when he was traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Brewers in 2008. The hefty lefty went from tossing a 3.83 ERA with the Indians to a microscopic 1.68 ERA with Milwaukee. As a career AL pitcher, Santana has always had to deal with the designated hitter. Atlanta could get lucky and find their own Sabathia-like resurgence by dealing for the Royals' ace.

Still, the need for a starting pitcher may come down to how well the arm Brandon Beachy got autographed by Tommy John is able to return to being the pitcher he was last season. Before his injury, Beachy's 2.00 ERA was the best in baseball. Adding him back to the rotation may already be like trading for a No. 1 starter.

Anthony Schreiber is a freelance sportswriter. He has penned articles for a variety of online publications and magazines.

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