Braves trade Jake Odorizzi, reacquire Kolby Allard

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

LAS VEGAS – At the Conrad Las Vegas, a fancy hotel that hosted this year’s General Managers Meetings, National League baseball operations officials were scheduled to speak to reporters from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. local time on Wednesday.

Ten minutes in, Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos still had not arrived – which sometimes means a move is coming.

And it was: The Braves reacquired left-hander Kolby Allard, their first-round draft pick in 2015, from Texas for Jake Odorizzi and cash. According to MLB.com, the Braves sent $10 million to the Rangers. Odorizzi had opted into his $12.5 million player option for 2023 so the Braves saved $2.5 million by making the move.

“We like him,” Anthopoulos said of Allard. “I think there’s still swing-and-miss if you look at the strikeout totals and so on. We know him, we have familiarity with the competitor.

“Look, when we traded him, we didn’t want to trade him.”

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Anthopoulos then laid out the situation from back then.

In 2019, the Braves had Josh Donaldson on a one-year deal. Brian McCann was playing his final season. Freddie Freeman was performing at an MVP level. In the middle of the season, Atlanta signed Dallas Keuchel.

They felt they had a club that could win.

The only issue: They had deficiencies in their bullpen, which is why they made a slew of trades – including dealing Allard to the Rangers for Chris Martin – to fix that.

“I said it after: I don’t want to be in that positon again and have to trade for relievers and trade young assets,” Anthopoulos said. “It was tough. It was painful to give up all those players because (Allard) is a young, competitive guy that has ability.”

Allard debuted for Atlanta in 2018. As a member of the Rangers, he posted a 5.85 ERA over 224 2/3 innings. In 2022, he had the highest strikeout rate of his career (21.8%), though it’s still a notch below MLB average in that category. Allard also has one minor-league option remaining, which gives the Braves flexibility.

Anthopoulos mentioned Allard’s name when listing the pitchers who will compete for the fifth spot in the starting rotation next spring. Ian Anderson, Mike Soroka, Kyle Muller and Bryce Elder will also be in the mix – that is, if the Braves don’t acquire a starting pitcher who is better than all of them.

Anthopoulos credited Odorizzi. He discussed Odorizzi’s clutch performance on the night the Braves clinched their fifth consecutive National League East title. Odorizzi posted a 5.24 ERA over 10 starts after the Braves acquired him at the deadline.

“Jake solidified things for us,” Anthopoulos said.

Credit: Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

Credit: Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

But the Braves have rotation depth. They would have paid Odorizzi – who might not have been one of their best five pitchers – his $12.5 million salary. Instead, they saved some of that as they enter an offseason in which they’ll continue addressing their needs.

Odorizzi, 32, was 6-6 with a 4.40 ERA in 106-1/3 innings in 22 games this past season, all starts, for the Astros and Braves. The Braves acquired Odorizzi for reliever Will Smith in another trade-deadline move. He made one appearance for the Braves in their National League Division Series with the Phillies, pitching three innings of relief and allowing one hit and two earned runs to go with three walks.

In 2022, Allard split time between the Rangers and Triple-A Round Rock, making 10 relief appearances for Texas and starting 20 games at Triple-A.

The Braves brought him back.

“He rose up through the system fast at a young age, but we still like him,” Anthopoulos said. “We still think there’s a lot of upside to him.”