Atlanta Braves – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-11-13T19:52:21Z WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Ronald Acuna, Shohei Ohtani Win Rookie Of The Year Awards]]> 2018-11-13T00:28:06Z 2018-11-12T23:54:06Z Precocious Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna has slugged his way to a National League Rookie of the Year Award, while two-way Angels star Shohei Ohtani took the top honors in the American League. While there were strong alternatives in both cases, these two players were the runaway favorites of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters. Juan Soto of the Nationals and Miguel Andujar of the Yankees were the respective runners up.

The 20-year-old Acuna burst onto the scene in 2018, launching 26 home runs and swiping 16 bags in 486 trips to the plate. He ended the season with a stellar .293/.366/.552 batting line. Already viewed as one of the game’s most exciting talents entering the 2018 campaign, Acuna now seems poised to take his place among the very best players in the majors.

It seemed at one point as if Juan Soto — who is even younger than Acuna — would run away with things in the NL. But Acuna went on a tear to end the season, helping lead his club to a stunning NL East title. Both of those players appear likely to clash in thrilling fashion well into the future in the division. (Things will presumably remain friendly, as the two seem to have hit it off on tour in Japan.) And it’ll also be fascinating to watch them each step into the box against third-place finisher Walker Buehler of the Dodgers, who had an exceptional debut season from the mound.

The trio of AL finalists was rather an exciting one as well. Ohtani, 24, staked out a position as the most fascinating baseball player on the planet by turning in high-end performances from the mound and the batter’s box. Primarily lauded for his promise as a hurler, Ohtani exceeded expectations with ten starts of 3.31 ERA ball with 11.0 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9. While his time on the bump was curtailed by a UCL surgery that ultimately required Tommy John surgery, Ohtani proved stunningly productive with the bat as well. Though he benefited from platoon usage, and was limited to DH usage, Ohtani actually bested Acuna and Soto in wRC+ (152 vs. 143 and 146, respectivey).

Andujar was the clear number two in the minds of voters, taking all of the five first-place votes that did not go to Ohtani. The 23-year-old’s output wasn’t quite as eye-popping as those of the others discussed in this post, but he did it over a full season. Andujar ended up popping 27 long balls with a .297/.328/.527 slash in 606 plate appearances, though his glovework did not receive glowing reviews. Unless things are shaken up by trade, he’ll presumably pair with fellow Yankees infielder and third-place AL ROY finisher Gleyber Torres for years to come.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Braves Notes: Brantley, Ramos, Inciarte, Revenues]]> 2018-11-12T00:34:42Z 2018-11-12T00:32:30Z The latest out of the ATL….

  • Michael Brantley and Wilson Ramos are near the top of the Braves’ list of potential free agent targets, a source told’s Mark Bowman this week.  Given the two players’ age and injury histories, however, Bowman feels Brantley and Ramos are “nothing more than secondary options” for Atlanta at this point.  At this early juncture in the offseason, the Braves (and every other team) are likely making inquiries about just about every free agent that fits their needs, so it’s too soon to say whether Atlanta will end up strongly pursuing Brantley and/or Ramos.  The pair are fits for the Braves on paper, as Brantley could replace Nick Markakis in the outfield while Ramos could take over behind the plate from free agent Kurt Suzuki.
  • Also from Bowman’s mailbag piece, he speculates that “it would at least make sense for” the Braves to test Ender Inciarte’s value on the trade market before age starts to hamper Inciarte’s defense and baserunning.  Inciarte only recently turned 28, and there has yet to be much evidence that either his stellar glovework (+7.4 UZR/150, +17 Defensive Runs Saved in 2018) or his work on the basepaths (+6.1 BsR as per Fangraphs’ baserunning metric, though he did only succeed in 28 of 42 stolen base chances last year) is slipping whatsoever.  That said, Inciarte has been a below-average hitter and run creator over his career, and actually took a step back at the plate in 2018, hitting just .265/.325/.380 over 660 PA.  Since the Braves have another outstanding center field option in Ronald Acuna, it would be a bold but potentially wise move to sell high on Inciarte, as several teams would jump at the chance to add a player with his speed and defense, not to mention his affordable contract (owed $20MM through 2021, plus a club option for 2022).  Bowman notes that Atlanta would only move Inciarte for “a significant return,” of course, though the team figures to be open to just about all trade options, with Acuna and Freddie Freeman perhaps being the only true untouchables in the organization.
  • As per the most recent quarterly earnings disclosure from Liberty Media (the Braves’ ownership group), the team’s $410MM in revenues for the first nine months of 2018 has already surpassed their $386MM total from all of 2017, Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.  The move to SunTrust Park for the 2017 season led to an enormous jump in revenues (from $262MM in 2016), and as one might expect, the Braves’ run to the NL East title this season resulted in “increased ticket prices, higher attendance and increased concessions per turnstile” from July through September, as per Liberty Media’s report.  It remains to be seen if this revenue jump will manifest into a larger payroll for the Braves this offseason.  GM Alex Anthopoulos said during the summer that “there’s no single player that we can’t afford” while discussing possible trade deadline acquisitions, though a midseason pickup is certainly different than a multi-year free agent, expense-wise.
TC Zencka <![CDATA[Braves Hire Mike Fast, Look To Upgrade Bench]]> 2018-11-10T20:43:31Z 2018-11-10T18:51:57Z Analytics guru Mike Fast joined the Atlanta Braves organization this Wednesday, he announced via Twitter. Fast was formerly the director of research and development in Houston before leaving the organization in late September. The former semiconductor engineer will serve as a special assistant to GM Alex Anthopoulous, who has made it a priority to improve the Braves’ analytics department ever since his hiring in November of 2017, writes the Athletic’s David O’Brien. Per Anthopolous himself, Fast will be part of Atlanta’s senior leadership team, giving his input into all areas of baseball operations. Now, some other rumblings from around the NL East…

  • Right field and catcher clearly require the attention of the Braves’ front office this winter, where current free agents Kurt Suzuki and newly-minted Silver Slugger Nick Markakis have left holes, but improving the bench is not much further down their winter checklist, writes Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Versatile defender Charlie Culberson was a bright spot for the bench unit in 2018, but they could use a power bat to fill the spot once occupied by Matt Adams (and most recently by current free agent Lucas Duda). Outfielder Adam Duvall was acquired from the Reds last season in part to fill that role, but he struggled mightily in his 33 games as a Brave. Duvall projects to earn $3.1MM his first time through arbitration this winter, which makes him a likely non-tender candidate. He is a career .230/.291/.454 hitter. Still, while GM Alex Anthopoulos said they will be more “open-minded” about spending significant dollars on the bench this season, that’s not a development likely to happen early in the free agent season.
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Braves Have Checked In On Robinson Chirinos]]> 2018-11-09T16:05:26Z 2018-11-09T16:05:26Z
  • Free agent catcher Robinson Chirinos has drawn some early interest from the Twins and the Braves, tweets’s Jon Morosi. The 34-year-old Chirinos hit the market after the Rangers declined his $4.5MM option. Chirinos’ .222/.338/.419 slash was a departure from his career year in 2017, but he did slug a personal best 18 home runs in 2018. Over the past four seasons in Texas, he’s hit .233/.337/.456 with 54 home runs in 336 games played. Chirinos’ strikeout rate at the plate and caught-stealing rate behind the plate both went in the wrong direction this year (in fairly significant fashion), but his track record at the plate is strong for a catcher, even if he’s never been regarded as a great defensive option.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Dansby Swanson Undergoes Wrist Surgery]]> 2018-11-07T19:20:57Z 2018-11-07T18:16:37Z Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson underwent wrist surgery recently to “remove a loose body,” per’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter). The procedure is not expected to keep Swanson from fully participating in Spring Training.

    Swanson, 24, turned in a solid effort last year for the Atlanta organization. He hit only .238/.304/.395, but put the ball over the fence 14 times in 533 plate appearances. Defensive metrics regarded him as a well-above-average performer at short, enough of a showing to largely justify his near-regular action up the middle.

    While the Braves can largely rest easy as to Swanson’s health, it’ll be interesting to see how the team handles its infield mix this winter. Johan Camargo and Ozzie Albies each had more productive campaigns than did Swanson, so it’s not as if there’s a glaring need. But the club could conceivably pursue an upgrade. More realistically, adding another piece to the mix could make some sense, particularly if the Braves are skeptical that utilityman Charlie Culberson will continue to outperform his batted-ball data.

    However it may seem from the outside, though, Braves GM Alex Anthopolous made clear today that he doesn’t see a need to seek change in the infield mix. As David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets, the club’s top baseball decisionmaker says that, within the organization, “we feel like we’re set in the infield.”

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Anthopoulos: Braves Aim To Add Closer In Offseason]]> 2018-11-07T04:42:05Z 2018-11-07T04:42:05Z The Braves are interested in adding a closer this offseason, general manager Alex Anthopoulos confirmed to’s Jon Morosi at the GM Meetings (Twitter link). That’s a fairly broad term, especially in 2018-19, so there’ll be no shortage of options for the Atlanta organization to pursue. Former Braves star Craig Kimbrel, of course, headlines the free-agent class of relievers, while Zach Britton, Andrew Miller and David Robertson are among the most recognizable names on the next tier of a fairly deep class of a relievers. Trade targets are harder to pin down, though several names have been generally kicked around the rumor mill recently, including Baltimore’s Mychal Givens, San Diego’s Kirby Yates and Seattle’s Alex Colome. Several other names will become available as the season wears on, and the Braves figure to be connected to a wide swath of ’pen options as they look to add a high-leverage reliever to the mix.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Harper/Machado Notes: Braves, Mets, Cardinals, Giants]]> 2018-11-04T17:14:52Z 2018-11-04T17:14:52Z Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will drive the action of the 2018-19 free agent market, as the two 26-year-old stars are in line to land the two biggest contracts in baseball history.  Here’s the latest buzz on what teams may or may not be preparing to pursue either of the duo…

    • The Braves have been mentioned as speculative suitors for Harper and Machado, and Atlanta even had some interest in Machado at the trade deadline.  A pursuit of either player this winter, however, might not be in the cards, as per GM Alex Anthopoulos’ comments in an interview with Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio on Siriux XM (audio link).  “We can be in on any player, we certainly have the dollars to do that.  I don’t know that it makes a lot of sense….to do deals that are ten years in length and longer at significant dollars with the payroll that we have,” Anthopoulos said.  “It’s not a rule for us, but I tend to not see a ton of value from our club that that would make sense for us….That doesn’t mean we won’t at least explore some things and see if we could line up on the right deal and the right term, but I am reluctant to go extremely long in terms of length.”  Freddie Freeman’s eight-year, $135MM deal (signed in February 2014, long before Anthopoulos was with the franchise) is the biggest contract in Braves history, though that extension was signed while Freeman was still 24 and in his first arbitration-eligible year.
    • Could the Mets take a run at Machado?  Recent history would seem to indicate against it, though the New York Post’s Joel Sherman lays out the case why pursuing Machado wouldn’t be so far-fetched an idea, starting with new GM Brodie Van Wagenen’s statement about how the team is planning to contend in 2019.  Signing Machado would obviously be a big help on that front, and Sherman also notes that keeping Machado away from the Yankees would also be of interest to the PR-conscious Wilpon family.  In terms of payroll, the Mets don’t have any salaries whatsoever on the books beyond the 2020 season, plus even Machado’s 2019 salary could be covered via injury insurance payouts from David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes’ contracts.  Sherman also speculates that adding Machado would turn young shortstop Amed Rosario into a very valuable trade chip the Mets could use to address other needs, or the team could try a scenario where Machado plays shortstop in 2019 and Rosario moves to second base, with Machado potentially moving back to third base in 2020 once Todd Frazier’s contract is up.
    • The Cardinals will check in on Harper as part of what could be a busy offseason for the team, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  As one industry source puts it, the Cards are “sending signals they are out to be a player” as a response to their three-year postseason drought, and also because they’ve missed out on other some major winter targets (i.e. Giancarlo Stanton, David Price) in recent years.  While the Cardinals still have some hesitations about extended long-term commitments to players, they could agree to such a contract in unique cases — as Goold notes, the team’s willingness to take on Stanton’s contract could hint that they are open to the record-setting deal it would take to land Harper.  Installing Harper as the everyday right fielder would make Dexter Fowler expendable, though St. Louis could also give Harper some time in center field while platooning Fowler and Harrison Bader between the two outfield spots.
    • The Giants also made a run at Stanton last winter, and San Francisco makes a lot of sense as a landing spot for Harper, as’s Buster Olney writes in a subscription-only piece.  Beyond the major upgrade Harper would bring to the Giants’ shaky outfield, Harper could find the Bay Area as much of a fit as another often-controversial star (Barry Bonds) did years ago, though obviously Bonds had the hometown factor in his favor. Olney notes that Giants owner Charles Johnson “was all-in on the idea of adding Stanton,” and the club’s traditional willingness to spend big on free agents could be more indicative of future plans than what the Giants’ yet-to-be-named new general manager has in mind.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Braves Rumblings: Teheran, Markakis]]> 2018-11-04T01:08:59Z 2018-11-04T01:08:32Z
  • Although Julio Teheran has long been a workhorse in Atlanta, where he has totaled 30-plus starts in six straight seasons, his status with the team is “in limbo,” per Mark Bowman of Even if the Braves are unable to find a trade partner for Teheran this offseason, they may not guarantee him a rotation spot in 2019, when he’s due $11MM, Bowman adds. Next season’s the last guaranteed year of the $32.4MM extension Teheran signed in 2014. At that point, the Braves were hoping Teheran would emerge as a front-line starter for the long haul. That hasn’t really happened, but Teheran has nonetheless been a competent major league starter. The right-hander is also still relatively youthful, as he’s coming off an age-27 season in which he logged 175 2/3 innings of 3.94 ERA ball. Teheran’s peripherals were less impressive than his run prevention (as has been the case throughout his career), however, and his already unimposing velocity trended downward.
  • More on the Braves, who haven’t officially closed the door on the Nick Markakis era, Bowman relays. Markakis is currently a free agent, though, and Bowman reports that the Braves will see if they can acquire a more powerful outfielder before potentially circling back to him. Set to turn 35 on Nov. 17, Markakis just wrapped up a four-year, $44MM contract, over which he offered slightly above-average offensive production (103 wRC+) in 2,745 plate appearances. Markakis, to his credit, was exceptionally durable as a Brave, as he missed just 12 games over the span of his just-expired deal. He took the field for all 162 games this past season and put up his best numbers as a Brave, hitting .297/.366/.440 (114 wRC+) with 14 home runs and 2.6 fWAR.
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Braves Acquire Raffy Lopez]]> 2018-11-02T15:00:37Z 2018-11-01T16:08:14Z The Braves have acquired catcher Raffy Lopez from the Padres for a player to be named later or cash considerations, the Padres announced today.

    The 31-year-old backstop figures to serve as catching depth for the Braves in 2019. A key part of this equation for the Braves is that Lopez still has minor-league options remaining, per the Athletic’s David O’Brien (via Twitter).

    Tyler Flowers will make up one part of Atlanta’s catching team for next year, but his partner from 2018, Kurt Suzuki, is currently a free agent.  The Braves also had 28-year-old Carlos Perez, 36-year-old Chris Stewart, and 35-year-old Rene Rivera see limited time at the position last season. Rivera and Stewart are also free agents whom you can track with our 2018-19 free agent tracker.

    Lopez came up in the  Cubs’ system after they selected him in the 16th round of the 2011 draft. For his career, Lopez has hit .184/.270/.322 across 76 games in the big leagues. He has spent time with the Cubs, Angels, Reds, Tigers, Blue Jays and Padres organizations, getting some major-league roster time in each of the last three seasons with the Reds, Blue Jays, and Padres, respectively.

    For the Padres, this move is likely motivated by a desire to clear a roster spot. They are facing a roster crunch ahead of December’s Rule 5 draft, so moving Lopez is the first of what could be many moves to shake up their 40-man roster.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Braves Outright Lindgren, Ramirez, Adams, Tucker]]> 2018-10-31T20:35:46Z 2018-10-31T19:21:32Z The Braves announced a variety of 40-man roster moves today. In addition to losing outfielder Michael Reed to the Twins via waivers, the team outrighted lefty Jacob Lindgren, righty Jose Ramirez, and outfielders Lane Adams and Preston Tucker after that quartet went unclaimed.

    Each of those players will remain with the organization, having cleared waivers, though Adams has the right to declare free agency since he has previously been outrighted. With four other players returning from the 60-day DL and taking up posts on the 40-man, the Atlanta organization now has nine openings left to work with as the offseason gets underway.

    The 25-year-old Lindgren was a second-round pick of the Yankees in 2014 and quickly rose to the Majors, debuting in 2015. However, his promising career has been derailed by a pair of Tommy John surgeries — the most recent of which cost him the 2018 season. Because of all the time he’s spent on the big league 60-day DL, he’d have been arbitration-eligible this winter despite only having tallied seven MLB innings. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected him to earn only a modest $600K salary through that arbitration process, though.

    Ramirez, meanwhile, missed most of the 2018 season owing to shoulder troubles. He tossed just 6 1/3 innings at the big league level with the Braves this year, though he’s previously functioned as a quality middle reliever under manager Brian Snitker. From 2016-17, Ramirez totaled 94 2/3 frames of 3.33 ERA ball with 8.5 K/9, though he’s also struggled with his control (4.5 BB/9, nine hit batters).

    Adams, 29 next month, hit .240/.345/.520 in a tiny sample of 29 plate appearances as a reserve outfielder this season. He tallied 122 PAs with Atlanta in 2017 and batted .275/.339/.468 with five homers and 10 steals in that time. Adams has a solid track record in Double-A but has struggled in Triple-A. He’s shown glimpses of talent in the big leagues, however, and is capable of playing all three outfield spots, so he should latch on elsewhere on a minor league pact as a quality depth piece with a very viable chance of returning to the Majors next year.

    As for Tucker, the 28-year-old turned some heads with an early-season showing that saw him hit .288/.333/.538 with three homers in 57 plate appearances. But Tucker had never managed to hit at that level in the past, and his bat quickly deteriorated (as did his playing time). Over his next 70 PAs, Tucker hit only .231/.286/.369. Atlanta traded him to the Reds in the summer’s lackluster Adam Duvall swap, and after a similarly uninspiring stint in Cincinnati, Tucker landed back with the Braves to close out the season. In all, after that fast start to the season, he hit only .202/.283/.342.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Claim Michael Reed]]> 2018-10-31T20:06:07Z 2018-10-31T19:16:04Z The Twins have claimed outfielder Michael Reed off waivers from the Braves, per’s Rhett Bollinger (via Twitter). He was one of several 40-man casualties of the Atlanta organization.

    Reed, 26 in November, was a fifth-round pick by the Brewers in 2011 and at times rated as one of the better farmhands in the Milwaukee system. His bat seemed to stall upon reaching Triple-A as a 23-year-old in 2016, though, and he took another step back at Double-A in 2017 — prompting his exit from the organization.

    Reed latched on with the Braves on a minor league deal last winter though and absolutely erupted in Double-A and Triple-A, raking at a combined .342/.453/.520 pace with 11 homers, 26 doubles and 10 steals in 401 plate appearances (with better performance in Triple-A than in Double-A). He appeared in seven games over a pair of big league stints with the Braves but never got much of a look at the MLB level in Atlanta.

    Reed’s minor league output, though, was fueled by ludicrously high BABIP marks (.426 in Double-A, .477 in Triple-A), so it’s no wonder that the Braves organization wasn’t fully enamored of his gaudy numbers. Still, he showed a keen eye at the plate (15.3 percent walk rate), didn’t post alarming strikeout totals (24.3 percent) and is capable of lining up in all three outfield spots. The right-handed-hitting Reed is out of minor league options, so he’ll have to stick on the 40-man roster all winter and break camp with the team or else be exposed to waivers once again. That, it should be noted, is far from a certain outcome.


    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Significant Free Agent Splash May Be Unlikely For Braves]]> 2018-10-24T22:54:58Z 2018-10-24T22:54:58Z
  • Gabe Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution looks at the Braves’ need for some help atop the rotation and the means by which they could acquire said help, though he notes that recent comments by GM Alex Anthopoulos caution against the possibility of an expensive splash. “If there’s a deal that makes sense for us, and it’s a good asset to have, we’ll do it,” said Anthopoulos. “I think the one where you scratch and really push, and you want to call it overpay in years or dollars, you feel like that’s the one final piece. … I don’t think we’re there yet right now.” Atlanta does have plenty of intriguing arms in the upper minors, some of whom have already debuted in the Majors. It’s possible that a few prominent contributors could yet emerge from within or that those pieces could be packaged for some high-end, cost-controlled help. A free-agent splash for someone like Patrick Corbin, however, seems decidedly less likely.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cafardo: Braves Expected To Show Interest In Patrick Corbin]]> 2018-10-21T01:29:49Z 2018-10-21T01:27:02Z The Yankees (previously reported), Dodgers, Giants and Braves are among the teams that are expected to “show a lot of interest” in left-hander Patrick Corbin once free agency starts, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. The 29-year-old Corbin is coming off a career season at the perfect time, having logged a 3.15 ERA/2.47 FIP with 11.07 K/9 and 2.16 BB/9 over 200 innings in 2018. As a result of that top-notch production, it’s likely Corbin will price himself out of Arizona and perhaps ink a nine-figure contract with someone.

    Ty Bradley <![CDATA[NL Notes: Wainwright, Robles, Braves]]> 2018-10-20T21:36:26Z 2018-10-20T21:36:26Z 37-year-old Adam Wainwright, who re-upped with the club on a one-year pact earlier this month, was elated with the progress of his balky right elbow over the season’s last two months, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch details in a lengthy overview of the situation.  Wainwright, who had Tommy John surgery in 2011 and has dealt with discomfort in his elbow on multiple occasions, has apparently had issues with “deep” bone bruises in the area for a number of years now, an ailment for which he could not seem to find a solution.  That appears to have changed, as Goold notes, with Wainwright’s adoption of a new, longer arm swing in the middle of his delivery.  “Whole new avenues are back in play that I haven’t been able to do in years,” Wainwright said. “I left this season, I left that last start feeling motivated and feeling better than I have in a long time.” The stats do seem, at least in part, to reinforce Wainwright’s perspective: in 22 1/3 IP after his return from the DL on September 10, Wainwright struck out 25 batters and walked just three.  His 8.93 K/9, albeit in an extremely small, 40 1/3 IP sample, ranks as the highest in his career, though the rest of his peripherals (a 4.02 BB/9 that led to a career-worst 106 xFIP-) leave little to shout about.

    In other news from other around the league . . .

    • Mark Zuckerman of MASN peers into Victor Robles’ place in a potentially crowded Washington outfield next season.  The consensus top five overall prospect’s status as a coveted trade chip will likely be on hold until the impending Bryce Harper sweepstakes have reached their conclusion, it seems, as the Nats will almost certainly plug Robles into the center field role should Harper depart.  Zuckerman notes that Robles, in addition to possessing a near limitless all-around ceiling, is a “gregarious” personality who brims with confidence in all aspects of his play.  Indeed, after an uninspiring start to the season at Triple-A Syracuse and in a short stint with the parent club, the 21-year-old unleashed his dormant offensive ability, slashing .359/.405/.718 over the season’s last two weeks after recovering from a hyperextended elbow suffered earlier in the year.  The Nats, of course, could both re-sign Harper and make room for Robles by trading outfielder Adam Eaton, though that scenario does not seem to be on the club’s table at the moment.
    •’s Mark Bowman outlines the Braves’ prospective payroll next season, estimating that the club will have “at least” $60MM with which to maneuver this offseason.  Atlanta, who boasts one of the game’s deepest farm systems, a unit stacked with high-upside starting pitchers of all kinds, could look to the trade market – as GM Alex Anthopoulos seemed to suggest in a recent summit with reporters – to address a thin big league rotation and question marks behind the plate and (at one spot) in the corner outfield.  Third base, manned mostly by a resurgent Johan Camargo, who slashed just .278/.333/.372 across parts of seven minor league seasons, could also be an area of need, as projection systems will likely not be kind to the 24-year-old.  For his part, David O’Brien of The Athletic believes the Braves will have far less than Bowman’s $60MM estimate to spend, placing the figure at nearly half the stated mark.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Anthopoulos Discusses Braves’ Offseason]]> 2018-10-16T05:27:05Z 2018-10-16T05:27:05Z Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos held court with the media today after the team announced a new deal for manager Brian Snitker. David O’Brien of The Athletic discussed many of the comments in a subscription post that’s well worth a full read for fans. We’ll run through some key items here.

    The chat was interesting on several levels, even if the veteran executive was cautious not to divulge anything that might tip his hand. Anthopoulos touched upon some of the competing priorities facing the organization, the balancing of which will shape the team for years to come.

    Even in terms of perceived needs, there’s room for debate. As Anthopoulos noted, in reference to pending free agents Nick Markakis and Kurt Suzuki, “everyone’s under control, except for those two spots.” There’s a world, then, in which the organization largely relies upon existing options, including its intriguing slate of rising talent, while perhaps weighing reunions with those two veterans or otherwise plugging those gaps with outside additions.

    But Anthopoulos certainly did not sound like he was preparing only to take a straightforward approach to filling those holes. “We’re going to look to upgrade a lot of areas,” he said. “We can improve in the rotation, the bullpen, offensively — in so many areas.”

    Indeed, that comment makes it seem as if just about every part of the roster is potentially in play for change. In seeking improvement, though, the club will need also to balance the pulls of relative certainty versus upside, as well as present versus future value.

    Anthopoulos acknowledged as much, noting that he “wouldn’t force a deal right now that will limit [the team] in years to come.” While he made that comment in reference to potential free agent signings that might weigh down future payrolls, it applies just as handily to far-away prospects that could be utilized as trade capital or kept to help form future Braves rosters. Particularly given that the Atlanta organization was slapped with fairly significant penalties for international signing malfeasance under the prior front office regime, drawing from the stock of lower-level talent would arguably be short-sighted.

    It’s not terribly difficult to see where things could be headed, then. The penalties did not impact the Braves’ broad pool of upper-level talent. It’s an organization rich with young major-leaguers and promising prospects playing in the high minors, not all of whom are held in equal esteem by the organization and not all of whom will fit onto the 25-man roster. And now that Anthopoulos has been at the helm for a full season, O’Brien notes, he will have a firmer sense of the internal valuations to be placed on those assets.

    Of course, moving players who are at or near the MLB level generally means giving up the ability to fill roster spots productively at bargain rates. Acquiring proven, high-level major-leaguers who are still playing for peanuts is next to impossible, even for an organization with a talent pool as deep as Atlanta’s. More likely, the club will be most successful at pursuing players who have at least reached arbitration or who are playing on attractive guaranteed contracts — players, that is, who are worth more than they are being paid, but aren’t still at or near the league-minimum.

    Bottom line: improving and deepening a major-league roster almost invariably means adding salary, even if the biggest moves are made via trade. Anthopoulos wasn’t willing to say, though, how much he’ll have to work with. He claimed, in fact, not to know himself while also noting that the team “may decide to hold back some money for July.” While details evidently won’t be forthcoming — “there’s just no upside for us to divulge that stuff”; fair enough — Anthopoulos did claim that his front office “will have a good amount of money to work with.”’s Mark Bowman tweeted today that indications are the club could add as much as $60MM in salary for 2019, though even that seems to come with some caveats. Plus, the Braves will seemingly be wary of over-committing future balance sheets.

    It seems the strong preference will be to part with some upper level talent to achieve cost-conscious but established pieces, rather than getting carried away with the bidding in free agency. Certainly, the Braves GM strongly indicated that fans hoping to land top free agents Bryce Harper or Manny Machado will be disappointed. “There’s the obvious big names up at the top, but I don’t know for our club, with what we have, that the value’s going to be there in the free-agent market,” Anthopoulos said. He suggested that the touchstone of value will govern — even if that means waiting for the middle of the 2019 season or beyond for certain desired acquisitions.

    All told, the chat obviously does little to set a clear course. It’s evident still that the Braves could pursue any number of opportunities, in free agency and especially trade. Perhaps it’s also possible that they’ll end up re-uniting with Markakis and Suzuki while otherwise only picking at the edges of the roster, though certainly that does not sound like the hoped-for or expected outcome.

    Even if they largely tread water, Anthopoulos’s comments nicely frame the tough but exciting choices that await. With a rather ambitious scope in mind entering the winter, it’s possible to imagine the club at least considering upgrades at all but a few positions on the roster. And if there’s a real desire for impactful roster additions, without the appetite for paying premium free agent price tags, then it’s possible we’ll see a creative, free-wheeling, multi-faceted winter of action in Atlanta.