Atlanta’s front office was devastated yesterday when they learned Freddie Freeman was going to miss about 2 months of the season. Freddie will probably be back around the all star break, but a team that is still rebuilding is gonna miss the hottest player since June of last year. Freeman was clicking on all cylinders until a pitch from Aaron Loup fractured his wrist on May 17th. The current roster is not going to be able to keep this team above water for long, so here are some changes the front office could make to keep the Braves competitive into June.
1. DFA Emilio Bonifacio, Recall Lane Adams from AAA
Bonifacio has the most pinch hits in the NL, which is 100% inexcusable. He’s slashing a pitiful .172/.194/.276, and has only 3 RBI in 29 at bats. He plays a lot of positions, but so does Jace Peterson. Lane Adams is hitting .293 with 5 HRs and 20 RBIs in Gwinnett in 2017. I think it’s time to replace the worst player on the team with a guy who showed flashes in his short time in the majors.
2. Promote James Loney
Kudos to Jace Peterson, he’s trying his hand at first base because Snitker is asking him too. Jace Peterson is not a first baseman. James Loney is DHing for Gwinnett, but he needs to join the Atlanta club as soon as he gets enough at bats under his belt. He hit .265 with 9 Home Runs for the Mets last year, and he was certainly the best option the Braves could find on short notice. Just really makes me wish the Braves had kept Christian Walker (Braves DFA’d Walker before the season, hitting .306 with 12 HRs for AAA Reno)
3. Demote Ian Krol, DFA Eric O’Flaherty
I still have some faith in Ian Krol. I have absolutely no faith left in EOF. Krol’s kinks might be able to be worked out in Gwinnett, but O’Flaherty needs to go. Good lefty bullpen arms are at a premium, but there has to be someone better in the system than EOF. Rex Brothers, David Peterson, Akeel Morris, and Caleb Dirks are all candidates to be called up to help out the pen.
4. Kurt Suzuki trade
Many teams will get desperate for another catcher around the trade deadline, which is the perfect time for the Braves to move Kurt Suzuki. I love having Kurt on the team, and I would love to keep him, but if his value is high enough it would be wise for the Braves to cut ties and get what they can for the former all-star. One team in the playoff hunt who could be looking to upgrade at catcher is Colorado. The Rockies are surprisingly in first after having the injury bug bite early; including losing their upstart backstop Tom Murphy to a broken arm. Eager to keep a leg up on Arizona & LA, we could see a deal similar to this:
Braves send C Kurt Suzuki & Cash Considerations to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for 3B Colton Welker and 1B Brian Mundell
Welker and Mundell are both High A players who have a strong hit tool. This move would be more about filling depth in the minors and maybe finding some diamonds in the rough. With Suzuki moving on, Anthony Recker would become Atlanta’s backup catcher.
5. Bartolo Colon trade
Bartolo has had a really up and down year, and as fun as it is to have him on the team, he will probably be shipped off for a few low level arms to a competing team or a team looking to fill the seats. This move is more to correspond with the next two.
6. Trade for an extra Bonus Slot Pick
The teams who own bonus picks in the 2017 drafts are Tampa, Cincinnati, Oakland, Milwaukee, Minnesota, and Miami. Milwaukee is in the hunt this year, and the Brewers are surprisingly leading their division early. They have the most home runs in the majors, but could the Braves swing a deal with them involving Jaime Garcia to sure up their rotation? If the Brewers are still pacing the Cubs at the deadline, here’s a possible scenario:
Braves send LHP Jaime Garcia and RHP Aaron Blair to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for OF Brett Phillips & 34th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft
The Braves can make a move for a power corner outfielder while giving up a questionable starter and an expiring contract to a team that is desperate to dethrone the world champions. Brett Phillips profiles as Milwaukee’s 10th best prospect, but three of their top six prospects are outfielders, including the top two. Their current outfield, which already includes young phenom Keon Broxton, has been producing at a high level. Maybe the Braves can break up the logjam and pick up a guy who’s hitting .297 with 8 HRs in AAA this year for cheap. Phillips needs to cut down on strikeouts, but Kevin Seitzer has had success with helping hitters K less in the past.
7. Promote Lucas Sims & Sean Newcomb
With the holes left behind by Garcia and Colon, the Braves have an opportunity to try out two of their brightest young arms in AAA. Sean Newcomb and Lucas Sims both faced make or break years this year, and both guys have responded. Sims was roughed up last night, but still has an even 3.00 ERA (2.16 before last night) and 42 strikeouts in 41 innings. Newcomb has also seemingly “woke up”, and has a 2.72 ERA while cutting down on his walks. A lefty right dynamic duo called up together, and if they are still performing like this in late June; it will be time to break them in.
8. Draft Austin Beck
Okay, this one is more of a personal preference, but this is my choice for the Rule 4 Draft on June 6th. Austin Beck is a 5 tool high school bat from North Carolina, who many have compared to Mike Trout (Mike Trout the high school player, not Mike Trout in 2017). The Braves have Ronald Acuna carving a path to the majors, but other than that nobody else really seems to pop out. Dustin Peterson has been injured quite often, and he is slotted at Left Field. Beck has 30-30 potential, quick hands, and he profiles as a right fielder. Rarely does the best player available coincide with a need, and the Braves should really consider adding another 19 year old to the teenage core of Allard, Soroka, Anderson, Wentz, Acuna, Maitan, and Riley.