Atlanta Braves – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-10-25T20:59:40Z WordPress Connor Byrne <![CDATA[MLBTR Poll: Marcell Ozuna’s Next Contract]]> 2020-10-22T00:00:55Z 2020-10-22T00:00:55Z Outfielder Marcell Ozuna just wrapped up a dream season as a member of the Braves, with whom he slashed .338/.431/.606 and totaled a National League-leading 18 home runs in 267 plate appearances. The Braves couldn’t have expected better than that when they signed Ozuna, a former Marlin and Cardinal, to a one-year, $18MM contract last January. Unfortunately for Atlanta, though, it could lose Ozuna in the coming weeks.

While Ozuna didn’t make out as hoped in free agency an offseason ago, this winter could be a different story. With the offseason looming, Ozuna stands out as one of the absolute best hitters who could become available soon. He also won’t be dealing with a qualifying offer, which helped weigh down his market a year ago. The main issue is whether the universal designated hitter will stick around, as that could impact how many NL teams pursue Ozuna on the open market. While Ozuna has spent his entire career in the NL, the Braves mostly deployed him as a DH in 2020.

Regardless of his defensive questions, Ozuna should have a lot of offense-needy teams after him in the offseason. Along with his bottom-line production, which has consistently been better than average, Ozuna is something of a Statcast favorite.The Braves have said they’d like to re-sign Ozuna, but whether it’s them or another team, how much do you think he’ll earn on his next contract?

(Poll link for app users)

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Anthopoulos: Braves Hope To Re-Sign Ozuna]]> 2020-10-21T15:48:29Z 2020-10-21T15:45:04Z For a second straight season, the Braves struck gold on a one-year deal for a middle-of-the-order threat. Atlanta’s 2019 deal with Josh Donaldson proved to be a masterstroke, and although the front office was panned for letting the “Bringer of Rain” walk, GM Alex Anthopoulos’ one-year deal for slugger Marcell Ozuna proved similarly fruitful. The former Marlins and Cardinals slugger delivered a superlative .338/.431/.636 slash and 18 home runs in 267 plate appearances, tacking on three postseason big flies.

The Braves now face a similar dilemma with Ozuna, who’ll draw interest on multi-year deals as one of the best bats in free agency. Unlike Donaldson, Ozuna is ineligible for a qualifying offer, having rejected one last winter. That not only bolsters his free-agent stock but also puts the Braves at risk of receiving no compensation if he departs. In speaking with reporters following the Braves’ NLCS exit, Anthopoulos made clear that re-signing Ozuna is a priority but also spoke with some caution (links via Gabe Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Mark Bowman of

“Marcell was amazing for us,” said Anthopoulos. “He was awesome. We’d love to have him back. I certainly plan on having discussions. … We’re going to have to work hard to get as many answers as we can from a revenue standpoint, a DH standpoint, all of those things.”

Anthopoulos sidestepped questions about team budget, noting that he had yet to discuss payroll with ownership and adding, understandably for competitive purposes, that he wouldn’t divulge the result of those talks even if they’d taken place. The GM pointed to uncertainties about 2021 revenue and whether they’ll play a full slate of games with fans in attendance next year as additional factors in determining club payroll, re-signing free agents and exploring other offseason moves.

As for Ozuna himself, the soon-to-be 30-year-old slugger took to social media to offer kind words and gratitude toward the Braves organization, his teammates and the Atlanta fanbase.

“I made the right decision to come play for the Braves,” Ozuna wrote on Instagram. “My time in Atlanta this year brought me so much joy and I will remember this season ALWAYS. None of us know what the future holds, but I know the future is BIG and BRIGHT. Thank you all.”

Specifics of Ozuna’s goals in free agency can’t be known, but his decision to bet on himself last winter could scarcely have gone better. Ozuna reportedly turned down a three-year offer to sign with the Reds, instead opting for a larger one-year salary and the opportunity to return to free agency this winter.

The Braves provided that opportunity, likely due to the upside Ozuna showed in a huge 2017 campaign with the Marlins and his top-of-the-scale ratings in various Statcast measures of interest. In 2019, Ozuna ranked in the 85th percentile or better in terms of barrel rate (85th), average exit velocity (91st), hard-hit rate (96th), expected batting average (89th), expected slugging percentage (90th) and expecte weighted on-base average (91st).

Impressive as that batted-ball profile was, Ozuna’s actual results on the field were relatively pedestrian (.241/.328/.478). That output, combined with defensive questions and the draft-pick compensation attached to his name after rejecting a qualifying offer, tempered interest in Ozuna. That almost certainly won’t be the case this winter, as Ozuna not only delivered elite results at the plate but somehow managed to improve in each of those batted-ball metrics, suggesting that his Herculean season is sustainable.

As Anthopoulos alluded to, teams are still uncertain whether there will be a permanent designated hitter in the National League. That’s critical with regard to Ozuna, who is limited to left field and experienced considerable throwing issues during his time with the Cardinals due to prior shoulder troubles. The Braves utilized Ozuna as their primary DH in 2020 and would surely prefer to do so moving forward.

There’s a widely held belief throughout the industry that even if the NL DH is stricken from the rulebook in 2021, it will be implemented as part of the 2021 collective bargaining talks. As such, the Braves or any other NL club might be willing to bet on using Ozuna in left field for a year and then moving him to DH in 2022 and beyond, but some certainty on that front would surely help his market.

Focusing on the Braves specifically, it’s hard to know whether they’ll buck recent trends under the Anthopoulos regime and take this type of financial plunge. Anthopoulos has eschewed long-term deals for the most part, going beyond two years in just one instance: last year’s three-year, $40MM deal for lefty Will Smith. Outside of that, he’s taken a conservative approach in free agency — even as it comes to big-name targets.

There was ample pressure from fans to bring Craig Kimbrel back on a multi-year deal when his market stalled out, but the Braves opted against it. The same was true of Dallas Keuchel, but the Braves held out until Keuchel could be had on a midseason, one-year deal. Donaldson, Ozuna and Cole Hamels represent other big-name, high-priced one-year deals. Since Anthopoulos took the reins, the Braves haven’t done beyond Smith’s $13.33MM annual salary on a multi-year deal for any free agent.

Signing Ozuna this winter would necessitate a departure from that stance. While no one can be certain how this year’s market will shake out thanks to those revenue losses, the expectation is that the top stars will still be paid. Ozuna should seemingly command at least a four-year deal — possibly a five-year pact — at a base rate in line with or more likely exceeding his current $18MM salary.

There’s certainly space on the payroll to make that plunge, thanks in no small part to overwhelmingly team-friendly deals for Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. That said, this decision will not only come against the backdrop of revenue losses but also the need to hammer out an extension for franchise icon Freddie Freeman, whose eight-year deal expires at the conclusion of the 2021 season. Add in what should be a competitive market for Ozuna’s services, and a reunion is far from a sure thing. The outcome can’t be known at this point, but Ozuna’s situation already has plenty of parallels with last year’s Donaldson saga.

Anthony Franco <![CDATA[MLBTR Poll: Braves Or Dodgers?]]> 2020-10-18T21:50:34Z 2020-10-18T21:50:34Z The National League pennant will be decided tonight. The Braves and Dodgers will kick off NLCS Game 7 in a few hours. The winner will take on the Rays next week in the World Series.

The Dodgers were the league’s most imposing offense in the regular season. Los Angeles has continued to mash in the postseason, averaging nearly six runs per game in the NLCS, thanks largely to Corey Seager’s recent home run barrage. Overall, L.A. has a 35-30 run differential edge for the series.

Atlanta’s lineup doesn’t have the depth of the Dodgers’ but the Braves obviously have ample high-end talent. Atlanta also has the more stable pitching outlook for Game 7. While the Dodgers will open with Dustin May, presumably to kick off a full-on bullpen game, Atlanta will hand the ball over to Game 2 starter Ian Anderson.

The 22-year-old Anderson has just six career regular season appearances under his belt, but he’s been downright stellar. The former third overall pick put up a 1.95 ERA over 32.1 innings as a rookie. Anderson punched out an impressive 29.7% of opposing hitters during the regular season while racking up grounders on over half the balls in play against him. The changeup artist also hasn’t been scored upon in 15.2 playoff innings.

The MLBTR readership was almost evenly split as to who would emerge victorious at the beginning of the series. (For what it’s worth, the Braves have since lost left fielder Adam Duvall to an oblique injury, unexpectedly forcing Cristian Pache into everyday duty). Predicting individual baseball games can be something of a fool’s errand, but we’ll turn it over to the readers nonetheless. Who will be celebrating a league championship tonight?

(poll link for app users).

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Braves To Start A.J. Minter In Game 5 Of NLCS]]> 2020-10-16T20:36:27Z 2020-10-16T20:33:29Z With a chance to eliminate the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLCS on Friday and advance to the World Series for the first time since 1999, the Braves will turn to left-handed reliever A.J. Minter as their starter, Mark Bowman of reports. He’ll square off against the Dodgers’ Dustin May.

This figures to be a short outing for Minter, who threw 21 2/3 frames in 22 regular-season appearances and recorded more than three outs on only a couple of occasions. The 27-year-old Minter made his appearances count, though, as he logged a meager 0.83 ERA/2.82 FIP with 9.97 K/9, 3.74 BB/9 and a 49.0 percent groundball rate. He’s a key member of a bullpen that finished 2020 with the majors’ fourth-best ERA (3.50), and that unit’s likely to be busy Friday.

Despite questions in a rotation that’s missing Mike Soroka and Cole Hamels because of injuries, the Braves have stormed to a 3-1 lead against the favored Dodgers. Most of the games in the series haven’t been close to this point, including a Thursday matchup in which the Braves and starter Bryse Wilson posted a dominant 10-2 victory.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Braves’ Bryse Wilson To Start Game 4 Of NLCS]]> 2020-10-14T18:32:08Z 2020-10-14T18:24:23Z The Braves will start right-hander Bryse Wilson in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers, Gabe Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. He’s likely to go up against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. In the meantime, it will be Kyle Wright for the Braves against Julio Urias of the Dodgers on Wednesday as Atlanta tries to take a 3-0 lead in the series.

If the Braves win Game 3, Wilson have a chance to close out the series against the legendary Kershaw and the Dodgers in what will be his playoff debut. A fourth-round pick in 2016 and a former top 100 prospect, Wilson has seen action with the Braves in each season since 2018. The 22-year-old has had difficulty in the majors, though, having posted a 5.91 ERA/5.42 FIP with 7.8 K/9 and 5.27 BB/9 in 42 2/3 innings.

Wilson has made 15 appearances in his MLB career, and he has lasted more than five innings just once. That suggests the Braves will have to heavily rely on their bullpen Thursday.

Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Looking Back At The Braves' Decision To Draft Ian Anderson]]> 2020-10-14T00:30:54Z 2020-10-14T00:30:54Z
  • The Braves turned to rookie right-hander Ian Anderson in tonight’s NLCS Game 2. The 22-year-old certainly earned the assignment, having turning in a 1.95 ERA/2.54 FIP in his first six major league starts. The former 3rd overall pick is now one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball, but he wasn’t seen as a lock to go in the top ten leading up to the 2016 draft. Jonathan Mayo of looks back at Atlanta’s pre-draft process, crediting area scout Greg Mohrhardt for his steadfast belief in the New York high schooler. Mayo’s piece is worth a full perusal for Braves’ fans or those interested in a look behind the curtain at the process for evaluating top draft prospects.
  • Homegrown players like Anderson are the backbone of the current Braves club. Nevertheless, Atlanta has done an excellent job of supplementing the roster in free agency, points out Nick Ashbourne of Sportsnet. The Braves’ one-year, $18MM deal with Marcell Ozuna was nothing short of a coup, as the 29-year-old was one of the top hitters in the National League this year. The Braves also hit on their two-year agreement with Travis d’Arnaud, who put together an elite season at the plate and has added a few key moments this postseason. Ashbourne runs through a few other instrumental additions that GM Alex Anthopolous and the rest of the front office have made to help push Atlanta to the NLCS.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Clayton Kershaw Scratched From Game 2, Tony Gonsolin To Start]]> 2020-10-13T18:40:39Z 2020-10-13T18:40:23Z 1:40PM: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times (Twitter links) and other reporters that chances are “very good” that Kershaw will pitch in the NLCS but he won’t be starting Game 3.  Kershaw’s back spasms developed during his bullpen session on Sunday, Roberts said.

    11:57PM: The Dodgers have optimism that Kershaw can be back for Game 4, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweets.  “If his back improves relatively quickly,” there’s a chance Kershaw could even be ready for Game 3.

    11:02PM: Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw has been scratched from his scheduled start in today’s Game 2 of the NLCS due to back spasms.  Tony Gonsolin will instead take the ball to start against the Braves.

    Kershaw has dealt with back problems at various points during this career, including a bout of back tightness that put him on the injured list for the first week of the 2020 season.  Naturally, the timing couldn’t be much worse for Kershaw to again suffer back woes just hours before the start of Game 2, and the question now becomes when exactly the longtime Dodger ace will be able to pitch again.

    Depending on the severity of the spasms, Kershaw could potentially start Wednesday’s Game 3, though that would seem to be a quick turn-around.  Assuming the spasms are minor, Kershaw could be held off until Game 4 on Thursday, in what could be a series-deciding game should Los Angeles fall behind 3-0.

    The Dodgers had been relying on Walker Buehler and Kershaw as the cornerstone of their postseason rotation plan, with the duo starting the first two games of each playoff series thus far.  Dustin May started Game 3 of the NLDS against the Padres, and some combination of May, Gonsolin, and Julio Urias was expected to handle the third and fourth starter duties for the remainder of the playoffs, the Dodgers also making liberal use of their bullpen.  Alex Wood was also added to the Dodgers’ NLCS roster to provide even more pitching depth given the lack of off-days throughout the series.

    More immediately, Gonsolin now faces the immediate and unexpected pressure of having to keep Los Angeles out of an 0-2 series deficit in his postseason debut.  Gonsolin has impressed over his two MLB seasons, posting a 2.60 ERA, 3.77 K/BB, and 8.6 K/9 over 86 2/3 innings, starting 14 of his 20 career games.  It is something of a tribute to the Dodgers’ depth that a promising young arm like Gonsolin wasn’t even a full-time starter for them heading into October, but he will have a stiff test in a Braves lineup that crushed right-handed pitching this season.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Braves Add Johan Camargo To NLCS Roster]]> 2020-10-13T16:22:13Z 2020-10-13T16:07:57Z The Braves have added infielder Johan Camargo to the NLCS roster, the team announced.  Camargo will replace Adam Duvall, who suffered an oblique injury in yesterday’s Game 1.  While Duvall’s injury would likely have sidelined him anyway, his removal from the NLCS roster means he is officially ineligible to play in the World Series should the Braves advance.

    Camargo has mostly played in the infield during his four-year career, though he does have a handful of appearances as a corner outfielder.  Atlanta isn’t really hurting for outfield depth given the presence of Ronald Acuna, Marcell Ozuna, Nick Markakis, Cristian Pache and utilityman Charlie Culberson on the roster, plus third baseman Austin Riley can play left field in a pinch.  With Camargo now adding to the infield depth, the Braves could be more apt to go to Culberson or Riley as a late-game sub.

    Moreso than defensive concerns, replacing Duvall with Camargo is a significant hit to Atlanta’s lineup.  Duvall hit .237/.301/.532 with 16 homers over 209 PA this season, while Camargo hasn’t hit well in either of the last two seasons.  That said, the Braves have plenty of other bats to theoretically pick up the offensive slack, while it should be noted that Duvall had only a .443 OPS in 21 plate appearances during this postseason.

    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Adam Duvall Exits NLCS Game 1 With Oblique Injury]]> 2020-10-13T01:18:52Z 2020-10-13T01:18:52Z Braves outfielder Adam Duvall came out of tonight’s NL Championship Series Game 1 in the second inning, per various reporters (including Jeff Passan of ESPN and David O’Brien of the Athletic). Duvall clutched at his left side following a swing and was immediately removed. Cristian Pache finished the plate appearance and took over defensively the following inning. Manager Brian Snitker confirmed on the Fox broadcast Duvall had injured his oblique, O’Brien adds.

    There’s no official word on his status, but it seems unlikely Duvall will be back this postseason. Oblique strains typically take weeks to recover. While it’s not yet clear precisely what Duvall suffered, Snitker noted he “(hurt) it pretty good” (relays Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register).

    It’s a significant blow to the Braves’ offense. Duvall has hit well for Atlanta the past two seasons, including a .237/.301/.532 line with 16 home runs in 209 plate appearances this year. Pache now seems likely to be thrust into a regular role. The 21-year-old is a supreme young talent and figures to play well defensively, but he has all of four career MLB plate appearances under his belt.

    The Braves can replace Duvall on the postseason roster if his prognosis is as bad as it seems. Ender Inciarte has been a healthy scratch throughout the playoffs and seems likely to join the club. Ronald Acuña Jr.Nick Markakis and primary DH Marcell Ozuna are the only other listed outfielders on Atlanta’s NLCS roster, although infielders Charlie Culberson and Austin Riley have some experience in the grass.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Braves Keep Same 28-Man Roster For NLCS]]> 2020-10-12T16:52:23Z 2020-10-12T16:50:05Z The Braves are sticking with what works as they head into the NLCS showdown with the Dodgers. They’ll stick with the same 28-man roster that they took into the NLDS. Here’s a refresher:

    Right-Handed Pitchers

    Left-Handed Pitchers




    The Braves will ride again with a 15-man pitching staff. They may very well need every arm if this 7-game, 7-day series goes the distance. In terms of their starters, they are sticking with the same guys for the first three games of the series, with Fried, Anderson, and Wright going on consecutive days, per the Athletic’s David O’Brien (via Twitter). They survived the first two rounds of the postseason without having to name a fourth starter, but that’s certain to change against the Dodgers. No word yet on who will start that game four, with Ynoa, Wilson, and Tomlin being the most capable of providing length.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tyler Matzek's Breakout]]> 2020-10-12T14:01:34Z 2020-10-11T20:14:49Z Tyler Matzek hadn’t thrown a Major League inning since the 2015 season, yet the southpaw has been a huge contributor to the Braves’ 2020 bullpen, posting a 2.79 ERA, 4.30 K/BB rate, and 13.3 K/9 over 29 regular season innings, and adding three shutout innings of work thus far in the playoffs.  Matzek’s five-year absence from the big leagues was marked by a 2017 spent entirely out of baseball, and then a stint pitching for the independent Texas AirHogs in 2018 and 2019 that got his career on track.  As AirHogs general manager Nate Gutierez told Steve Hummer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Matzek’s mindset heading to indy ball, “some guys come in defeated….When Tyler came in, we had open and honest conversations with him about where he was, which was a ways away from where he thought he needed to be.”

    • Matzek’s emergence further strengthen a bullpen that was one of the league’s best in 2020. Also instrumental at the end of games for manager Brian Snitker are Chris Martin and Mark Melancon, a pair of relievers originally acquired around the 2019 trade deadline. Those are among a series of moves the Alex Anthopolous-led front office has made to fortify the pitching staff over the past couple seasons, as Buster Olney of ESPN explores. Even more impactful, perhaps, are potential moves Atlanta didn’t make, as Olney notes that opposing teams tried to buy low on Max Fried and Kyle Wright after they started their careers with somewhat mixed results. To their credit, the Braves obviously stood pat on both pitchers, which has proven especially beneficial in Fried’s case.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[MLBTR Poll: Who Will Win The NLCS?]]> 2020-10-09T15:47:14Z 2020-10-09T14:50:04Z The 2020 National League Champion Series is set, and for all the concern of a watered-down postseason field this year, we’ll see two of the league’s top three records square off when the 43-17 Dodgers take on the 35-25 Braves.

    Atlanta and Los Angeles both feature powerhouse offenses, as the two were separated by just one run during regular season play atop the National League leaderboard; the Dodgers scored an NL-best 349 runs to the Braves’ 348. The Dodgers posted a team 122 wRC+ to the Braves’ 121.

    It’s a different story on the pitching front, where an injury-plagued Atlanta club saw its rotation post an NL-worst 5.51 ERA to the Dodgers’ NL-best 3.29 mark. The Braves, however, have a pair of high-end arms fronting a top-heavy rotation: Cy Young candidate Max Fried and breakout rookie Ian Anderson. Former No. 5 overall pick Kyle Wright dominated in his postseason debut yesterday when he blanked the Marlins over six innings and piled up seven strikeouts. As for the bullpens? These are the National League’s two best in terms of both ERA and FIP.

    Both teams swept a division rival in the NLDS. The Dodgers ended a breakout 2020 showing for the upstart Padres, while the Braves cut short a Cinderella season for a Marlins club that very few pegged as a playoff contender. The end result is a star-studded NLCS that will pit Mookie Betts, Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and the rest of the Dodgers against Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman, Marcell Ozuna, Fried and the Braves. We’ve yet to see these clubs square off in 2020, but this best-of-seven series should pack plenty of intrigue.

    We’re three days out from Game 1, which will take place on Monday evening. MLBTR readers, who are you taking? (Link to poll for Trade Rumors mobile app users)

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Braves Go With 15-Man Pitching Staff In NLDS]]> 2020-10-06T15:59:33Z 2020-10-06T15:59:33Z The Braves have set their 28-man roster for this week’s NLDS matchup against the upstart Marlins. Here’s the breakdown:

    Right-Handed Pitchers

    Left-Handed Pitchers




    There are only two changes from the wild card round for the Braves. In an effort to have more arms at the ready for a series that could include games on 5 consecutive days, Atlanta added Bryse Wilson and Huascar Ynoa to the NLDS roster. Both are capable of starting a potential game 4, though either would likely have a short leash. More importantly, perhaps, is that both are capable of providing multiple innings of relief out of the bullpen at some point during the series. They are now carrying a robust 15-man pitching staff for the series, which includes four southpaws in the bullpen.

    Johan Camargo and William Contreras are the casualties, shortening the bench for Atlanta to just a backup catcher, Culberson and Sandoval as the reserve infielders, and Pache as their lone backup outfielder. The four-man bench is made possible by Culberson, who can play all over the diamond in a pinch.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Marlins Set Rotation For First Three Games Of NLDS]]> 2020-10-06T00:09:05Z 2020-10-06T00:09:05Z The Marlins are preparing to kick off their NLDS against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. This series is non-conventional for a postseason set in that the best-of-five will play out over 5 consecutive days (and of course, because it’s being played in a playoff bubble at a neutral site during a pandemic).

    No days off means there will be less of the starters-in-relief that has come to define many recent postseasons, including last year when Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez used each of Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, and Patrick Corbin out of the bullpen en route to winning the World Series. But there’s still potential for lots of in-series finagling of pitching staffs depending on how the first couple of games play out. For Atlanta, that could mean a bullpen day for game four. Max Fried, Ian Anderson, and Kyle Wright will take the hill for the first three games, and odds are they’d bring Fried back on short rest for a potential winner-take-all game five.

    The potential to return on short rest for a deciding game five makes the selection of the game one starter all the more important . The Marlins will start Sandy Alcantara in the series opener, followed by Pablo López in game two and rookie phenom Sixto Sánchez in game three, tweets Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald. The Marlins young trio have a real opportunity to add to their pandemic-truncated resumes. Alcantara and López won’t be arbitration eligible until after 2021, so there’s time to build a more comprehensive portfolio before entering the arbitration process. Still, every extra start does help considering the half a season or more lost due to the pandemic. The 25-year-old Alcantara, for example, was only able to make 7 regular season starts because of time spent on the COVID-19 injured list. He added one successful postseason start to that total already, and by starting game one of the NLDS, he could add another pair should the series go the distance.

    Sánchez, with just 7 regular season starts to his name, isn’t scheduled to enter arbitration until after the 2023 season. He’ll be pushed back a day after 5 spotless innings against the Cubs in game two of the Wild Card series. Sánchez came out hot against the Cubs, routinely hitting triple-digits in the first couple of innings. His velocity dropped to the 94-to-97 mph range by the fifth inning. A game two start would have put him on track for a regular four days of rest. This way gets the 22-year-old an extra day off after a high-intensity outing at Wrigley Field.

    López will take the hill for Wednesday’s game two instead. His last start came all the way back on September 24th. That gives him 12 days off between starts. That last outing also happened to come against these very Braves, one of three times he opposed Freddie Freeman and company during the regular season. The Marlins went 2-1 in those games, though the loss on September 9th was easily López’s roughest (and shortest) outing of the season. He managed just 1 2/3 innings while serving up 4 hits, 4 walks, and 7 earned runs. The 24-year-old went 5 scoreless, striking out 6 while yielding just 2 hits and 2 walks in his final start of the year at Atlanta.

    In a vacuum, any of the three would be legitimate options to open the series, but manager Don Mattingly wasn’t troubled by his decision about who to start in game one. Per’s Joe Frisaro, Mattingly said, “Obviously, Sandy’s easy. He’s been our guy, kind of our No. 1.”

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Freddie Freeman On Potential Extension]]> 2020-10-05T21:34:14Z 2020-10-05T21:34:14Z Longtime Braves star Freddie Freeman may win the NL MVP this year, but the first baseman isn’t signed beyond next season. As a result, the World Series-contending Braves will soon have to decide how far they’ll go to keep him in the fold. There’s mutual interest in a new deal, though, Freeman revealed Monday (via David O’Brien of The Athletic).

    Freeman, whose eight-year, $135MM extension is nearing an end, said that he’dlove to stay” in Atlanta, and he believes general manager Alex Anthopoulos is aware of that. “We’ll see how it goes. But this team is built to win for a long time and I know that. It’s going to be a good ride. Hopefully I can be a part of it,” Freeman added.

    A 2007 second-round pick, Freeman has turned into one of the most accomplished players in Braves history. The 31-year-old is a four-time All-Star who has slashed .295/.383/.509 with 240 home runs and 38 fWAR over 5,965 plate appearances. He turned in a career-best .341/.462/.640 line with 13 HRs and an NL-leading 3.4 fWAR across 262 PA in 2020 en route to what could be an MVP-winning season.

    Regardless of whether Freeman takes home hardware in the coming months, he looks as if he’s in line for a second contract worth at least $100MM. Speculatively, Freeman could push for a similar pact to the five-year, $130MM extension Paul Goldschmidt signed with the Cardinals before 2019.