Braves still looking for another starter

Could Ryan Vogelsong be an option for the Braves 2015 rotation?

The Braves are looking for another starting pitcher. It’s still possible they will get one if they deal Evan Gattis. But as more and more pitchers change teams, the options are getting few and far between.

John Hart has said the Braves would not mind signing one or two pitchers for the rotation. That is not a surprise, as most teams want six options for a rotation going into spring training.

Just think about it. A year ago, the Braves rotation for 2014 was expected to be Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy. Gavin Floyd was brought in as insurance, while Freddy Garcia was also on hand as another option.

Spring training changed everything, as Minor got off to a late start after some shoulder issues. Then Medlen and Beachy went down with a second Tommy John surgery. The Braves had to sign Ervin Santana and then Aaron Harang to fill out the rotation.

The numbers right now are not good. The Braves have Teheran, Minor, Wood and newly acquired Shelby Miller, who came over from the Cardinals in the Jason Heyward trade. They would prefer to have David Hale remain in the role as long reliever – spot starter if possible.

So if the Braves do not trade for a starter, they’ll likely look at the free agents still on the board. Do not expect the Braves to be involved with Max Scherzer or James Shields, the two highly-priced free agent starters.

The Braves need an innings-eater, like Harang was last year for them. As of now, it does not look like Harang will return.

Here are some names to keep in mind as free agents: Chad Billingsley, Joe Blanton, Kevin Correia, Jon Garland, Roberto Hernandez, Kyle Kendrick, Wandy Rodriguez, Joe Saunders, Johan Santana, Ryan Vogelsong.

Two names that might be interesting are Billingsley and Vogelson. Billingsley is coming off a three-year, $35-million dollar contract. He was hurt for most of that time, recovering from Tommy John surgery. Billingsley pitched in only two games in 2013 and did not pitch at all in the majors last season.

Billingsley had surgery in June to repair a torn flexor tendon. He wasn’t expected to start throwing until November. He’s been linked to Arizona, since Dave Stewart was his agent before leaving to lead the Diamondbacks front office as GM.

This may be a long shot, since Billingsley hasn’t pitched in two years. But before he was injured, Billingsley was putting together a very good career. He had six straight double-digit winning seasons for Los Angeles between 2007 and 2012.

Is Billingsley healthy, or is his arm at least showing signs of gaining strength? Well, if the answer to those questions is yes, he might be a good gamble.

Vogelsong is a fourth or fifth starter in a rotation, but he’s been on the last two Giants’ World Series teams. In his last four years with the Giants, Vogelsong is 39-35 with 657.2 innings pitched. He’ll be 38 next summer, so he might be the perfect veteran to compliment the young pitchers in the Atlanta rotation.

The rotation is something that must be fixed, so this decision will be an interesting one for the new Braves front office. The Braves have always been built around pitching, so this could be the most crucial call of the offseason.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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