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MLB trade rumor grade: Sonny Gray to the Braves?

The Braves had a goal this season: Don’t lose 110 games in the first year of a new ballpark. Don’t embarrass the franchise. Don’t play like the Braves in the first half of 2016.

For the most part, it’s working. They’re just three games under .500, and they’re sitting atop one of baseball’s greatest prospect caches. They’re set up well for the future, and they’re not embarrassing themselves in the present. It was a nifty sleight of hand, and they pulled it off. Remember that exactly one year ago, they looked like the worst team in baseball.

Now they might be looking to trade prospects away?

That doesn’t mean Darvish won’t go to the Indians if they’re the ones willing to pay what the Dodgers or Yankees will not, but he’ll have a say in the matter, unlike with the other top suitors.

With the Yankees seemingly disinterested, the Indians a destination Darvish can reject, and the Dodgers unwilling to give up their very best prospects for Darvish, you’d think that would mean the Rangers are unlikely to deal the pending free agent. However, with the new compensation rules in place, the Rangers are only looking at a pick in the 75-80 range in next year’s draft in return for losing Darvish. That’s not as much of a motivator to hold on to a pending free agent as it once was, when someone like Darvish guaranteed a first-round pick as compensation.

So the bar for what the Rangers will begrudgingly accept for Darvish is lower than it would have been if this scenario played out a year ago, though, that doesn’t mean he’ll come cheap. He’s still the top starter on the block this deadline, rental or no, and the Rangers’ plan to improve their team with a trade and then bring back Darvish is a good one.

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