Kevin Gausman Leads Package Heading to Atlanta from Baltimore

The Atlanta Braves have acquired Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day from the Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore receives prospects Juan Carlos Encarnacion, Brett Cumberland, Evan Phillips and Bruce Zimmermann and international signing slots from Atlanta.

Gausman is a 27-year old right-hander and is eligible for arbitration each of the next two seasons. O’Day is out for the season due to a hamstring injury but is signed through 2019 for $9 million. The Orioles receive four prospects, one with limited Major League experience, the other three competing no higher than Double-A.

Kevin Gausman Leads Package Heading to Atlanta from Baltimore

Atlanta Braves Return

Kevin Gausman adds depth to an Atlanta rotation that is in dire need of it. The Braves play 27 games in the next 27 days, including a brutal stretch of 22 games in 21 days starting August 7 with a doubleheader in Washington. Sean Newcomb just threw 134 pitches in his last outing and the Braves plan to give him extra rest. The rest of Atlanta’s starters average fewer than six innings per start. Gausman immediately leads the Braves rotation in innings pitched.

Gausman is a league-average starter that doesn’t walk batters and strands runners routinely. His career 7.1 BB% and 75.8 LOB% are a testament to that and he ranks in the top-eight of the American League in both categories this season. Gausman does have a dreadful 16.7 HR/FB%, the worst in baseball. However, he also ranks fourth in the American League with a 46.9 GB%. If he can generate more ground balls and continue to post a strong K/BB%, than Gausman will be a worthy addition to a stifling Atlanta rotation.

Darren O’Day opted for surgery for a hamstring injury he suffered June 26 in the seventh inning against the Seattle Mariners. This means Atlanta will not have O’Day’s services in the bullpen should they reach the postseason. Yet, O’Day is signed for $9 million for 2019 and have been a serviceable bullpen piece since 2016.

Baltimore Orioles Return

The players Baltimore received in the deal are all fringe prospects however they do offer upside potential. Jean Carlos Encarnacion ranks as the best of the bunch. MLB Pipeline ranked the 20-year old Dominican 14th in their midseason Braves prospect rankings. He has natural ability and raw power from the right side. He’s currently listed as a third baseman, however his offensive talent bodes well as a corner outfielder in the future.

Catcher Brett Cumberland was a Competitive Balance pick in the 2016 MLB Draft from the University of California. His power and on-base skills are legitimate and he is currently producing the lowest strikeout rate of his career. Scouts question his ability to stay behind the plate, which may cause concern down the road.

Evan Phillips is a bullpen piece that Baltimore could use right away. Phillips appeared in 6.1 innings during the season for Atlanta in relief work with mixed results. He throws a low-to-mid 90s fastball with a devastating slider as an out pitch. Bruce Zimmermann is a fairly complete pitcher with a high floor as competent Major League starter. His three-pitch mix is average, consisting of a fastball, curveball and changeup. But he locates all of them well and can throw to both sides of the plate.

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