It’s been four weeks since teams around baseball packed up their suitcases from the Winter Meetings. While many rumors have surfaced speculating the Braves next move, they have not made one since the Donaldson/McCann signings. Players report to spring training in a month and a half. The Braves are bound to make a move before then, since they still have needs in pitching and outfield.
With our current roster, Adam Duvall would be starting in right field for Atlanta in 2019. While he has had credible power and defensive numbers in the past, he didn’t hit a single home run and batted under the Mendoza line during his time with the Braves in the second half. While he was kept on the roster, the Braves won’t be counting on him to make a comeback. While free agency probably won’t be where the Braves will find a right fielder, there is still a chance. That is because the market is high for them and there aren’t many left.
A.J. Pollock would probably be the most realistic option in free agency right now. However, that would only happen if he was willing to accept less than a 3-year deal and if the Braves feel confident about his injury history since he has averaged 79 games played over the past three seasons. The darkhorse of the group would be Marwin Gonzalez. The switch-hitter would be a good fit as he adds value as a utility man. He played every position for the Astros in 2018 except catcher. He is seeking a 4-year deal, which isn’t in the Braves plans. The fallback options would be to re-sign Nick Markakis or Carlos Gonzalez. They are bound to cash in on a short-term deal. While it may not be the catch they want, the value of the agreement itself may make it worth it.
The likely outfield acquisition for the Braves would be via trade. The perfect fit for Atlanta would be Seattle’s Mitch Haniger. The 28-year-old right-hander is controllable through 2022. He is also coming off an all-star season, batting .285/.366/.493 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI’s. He is a solid defender as well. However, the Mariners seem unwilling to let Haniger go this offseason. David Peralta would be the next best option for the Braves and with Arizona considering a full rebuild, it is possible that Arizona could let him go. The Braves have shown interest as they’ve tried acquiring the silver slugger before. That was when the Diamondbacks were unwilling to deal him. Things may have changed since then, so it is good to keep a close eye on any talks. More on David Peralta: http://www.atlantasportspage.org/atlanta-braves/why-the-braves-should-trade-for-david-peralta-and-how-he-compares-to-other-of-options/. Detroit’s Nick Castellanos would be a good addition offensively. However, he is a poor defender. With that being said, he isn’t worth the asking price at this time. Now that the Dodgers are dumping salaries for a potential Bryce Harper signing, Joc Pederson has recently become a legitimate option. Anthopoulos has made numerous deals with the Dodgers during his time with the Braves so making a deal for the 26-year-old power hitter, controllable through 2020, should come as no surprise.
As Atlanta’s rotation stands right now would be Foltynewicz, Gausman, Newcomb, Teheran, Soroka/Toussaint. While Teheran has been in trade talks for the past few years, this year will more than likely be the year he is dealt. If he is still on the roster opening day, then it is possible that Soroka or Toussaint would be pushed out of the rotation, assuming the Braves acquire another starter this offseason.
Outside of Dallas Keuchel, there doesn’t seem to be any starters that catch the Braves eye. Until he is willing to accept a short-term deal, it isn’t likely that you’ll see him wearing a Braves uniform in 2019. Just as I mentioned about the outfielders, it is also most likely the Braves will acquire a starting pitcher via trade. An excellent situation would be a package including David Peralta and Robbie Ray from Arizona. While Ray isn’t an ace like you could argue for Keuchel, he would be a solid rotation piece. He has two years of control left, and the lefty’s style is well complemented with a big curve. Zack Greinke is another Arizona starter that has been linked to the Braves. While he could be a good fit, the Diamondbacks would have to eat most of his contract, as he is due for 104.5 million in his 35-37-year-old seasons. One guy that has been on the Braves radar in the last couple of seasons is Sonny Gray. The 2015 all-star was traded to the Yankees as a highly touted acquisition in 2017. While his numbers aren’t quite what they used to be, an argument could be made that he still has the stuff that brought him much success in Oakland. A change of scenery might be all that Gray needs. If the price is right, the Braves should be buyers. Madison Bumgarner is a guy the Braves should be looking at as well. While he isn’t the ace he used to be, he could be a great asset on the field and in the locker room as the Braves have a pitching-heavy farm system. While the Braves have been linked to a Corey Kluber destination all offseason, those talks to seemed to have died down after the Indians dealt Yonder Alonso to the White Sox. It is still worth keeping an eye on, though.
The fan favorite move would be bringing back all-star closer Craig Kimbrel. While that is unlikely as of now, it isn’t impossible. If his market goes down to around three years, then the Braves would definitely entertain the idea of bringing him back. José Leclerc would be a great addition from the Rangers. He is young and controllable until 2023. He posted a fantastic 1.56 ERA last season. Adam Ottavino would be a solid option as well. But right now, his asking price is too high. Don’t be surprised if Luis Avilan makes a return as a Brave as well.
It would be impossible to not mention Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. While he isn’t a need, Realmuto has been on the Braves’ radar for a while now. He would be a perfect fit in our lineup, as well as defensively and base running. But until the Marlins stop expecting a package that includes Ozzie Ables for someone who only has two years of control left, he isn’t someone you should count up suiting up for the Braves. If the price goes down with the clock ticking until Spring Training, the Braves would be buyers.