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May 22, 2024

MLB trade rumors: Braves 'keeping a close eye' on former Phillies favorite

With the roles reversed and the Braves left to try and close the gap on the Phillies, Atlanta reportedly has former Phil Zach Eflin on their radar.

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Zach-Eflin-Rays-rumors_052224_USAT Nick Turchiaro/USA Today Sports

Zach Eflin is on the radar of an NL East rival.

It's an odd role reversal. 

With five games between the Phillies and the Braves in the NL East and the trade deadline a few short months away, Atlanta is the team looking for ways to close the gap — and according to MLB insider Bob Nightengale, they're looking to address starting pitching, with an eye on a former Phil. Via 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. [USA Today]
The Phillies have a dominant starting pitching rotation, the best in baseball so far with a combined 2.59 ERA, though the Braves' 3.47 ERA isn't anything to sneeze at either. Atlanta eyeing a starter makes sense and Eflin could be a good fit.

The Rays have underachieved in a very jammed AL East and are stuck in third place. If that's where they remain come June or July, Eflin might become expendable, even though he is under contract through 2025 with the richest free-agent deal Tampa has ever offered (three years, $40 million).

Eflin is a modest 3-4 with a 4.12 ERA so far this season. Last year, his first with the Rays, was a 16-win campaign, the highest in the American League. He boasted a 3.50 ERA. 

Prior to 2023 with Tampa, Eflin was an important hurler for the Phillies' run to the World Series in 2022, taking on a key role in the bullpen while also starting when he had to. 

Eflin pitched in 127 games for Philadelphia spanning from 2016-to-2022.

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