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Report: Braves interested in Rays starter Zach Eflin

Zach Eflin Braves
Could the Braves look to acquire Rays starter Zach Eflin? One report suggests there’s interest. (Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports)

Report: Braves interested in Rays starter Zach Eflin

There are still over two months until the July 30 MLB Trade Deadline.

We’ve already seen one big move with the Miami Marlins flipping two-time reigning batting champion Luis Arraez to the San Diego Padres. Now, there’s smoke surrounding the second-place Atlanta Braves looking for rotation help amid Spencer Strider‘s season-ending elbow injury.

The latest name rumored is Tampa Bay Rays starter Zach Eflin, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

“Atlanta is keeping a close eye on Tampa Bay Rays veteran starter Zach Eflin if they decide they need another starter at the trade deadline,” the report read.

Eflin just got shelved to the 15-day injured list with lower back inflammation, which could be tricky to manage. Nevertheless, he’s been one of the few bright spots in their pitching staff this season, sporting a 4.12 ERA with a 3.68 FIP through 59.0 frames in 10 starts.

He’s done a remarkable job not walking batters, owning baseball’s lowest walks per nine (0.6) for qualified arms with a walk rate (1.6) that grades in the 98th percentile, per Baseball Savant.

Eflin, 30, in the second year of a three-year, $40 million deal he signed with Tampa ahead of the 2023 season. He has a $11 million payroll this season and an $18 million payroll in 2025, per Spotrac.

Atlanta’s gotten excellent production from its top four starters in Chris Sale–who’s having a resurgent 2024–Charlie Morton, Max Fried and Reynaldo Lopez. Bryce Elder, who owns a 6.46 ERA and 5.39 FIP in five starts, has been the one blip on the radar. Eflin, a reasonably priced arm, could fill that void.

Tampa Bay, who’s won 11 of their last 17, is still vying for a wild card spot at 25-24. At the time of this publishing, they are 8.5 games back of the New York Yankees for the AL East lead, but are tied with the Minnesota Twins for the third-and-final wild card bid with the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers all looming behind them.

Other possible trade chips could be Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn, Ross Stripling, Jesus Luzardo and Erick Fedde, among others, should Atlanta not acquire Eflin if they want rotation help.

There’s still a long way out. But when there’s smoke this early, there very well could be something to it.

***

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