The non-tender deadline passed this Friday, and nobody non-tendered more players than the Atlanta Braves, who let seven players walk. They also traded several more, clearing up ten 40-man roster spots that must be filled. It’s going to be a busy winter for Alex Anthopoulos, who is aiming to tweak a roster that has won 205 games over the last two seasons but faltered in October.
Of other teams’ non-tendered free agents, there are several notable names that could intrigue the Braves.
I have to include Woodruff because he is the biggest name that was non-tendered. The guy has been a stud since 2019, posting a 2.93 ERA over 103 starts. However, like Kyle Wright, he underwent shoulder surgery in October. He might miss all of 2023, and it’s almost impossible to judge how a pitcher will look following a significant shoulder injury.
The idea of taking a chance on Woodruff and handing him a multi-year contract in hopes he can return at the end of next season and be a frontline starter again in 2024 will intrigue a lot of teams. However, I doubt the Braves are going to be one of them. They just dealt Kyle Wright to the Royals after undergoing a similar surgery, and he was only projected to earn $1.4 million in arbitration. The Braves also traded Michael Soroka to the White Sox for fear that he would not return to form after several injuries. It seems Anthopoulos’ goal is to get healthy arms in the building, ones he believes can help the team win today. Brandon Woodruff doesn’t fit that description.
Lewis won the AL Rookie of the Year during the shortened 2020 campaign and looked to be on the road to stardom. However, he’s essentially disappeared since then, partly due to injuries and partly due to his performance. Over the last two seasons, Lewis has appeared in just 34 games and recorded a .150 batting average and .496 OPS. He did have a 1.098 OPS with 17 homers in 63 AAA games last season, so there is some upside. Lewis is also from Georgia and attended Mercer University, so perhaps he’d be interested in returning home on a minor-league pact. I wouldn’t expect him to come in and be a contributor immediately, but with an opening in left field, the Braves will be looking to add some depth throughout the organization.
Meadows had some fantastic seasons with the Rays. He was an All-Star in 2019, blasting 33 homers and recording a .922 OPS. Meadows also hit 27 homers in 2021, but he’s played in just 42 games since while dealing with vertigo and anxiety issues. There’s a chance Meadows doesn’t desire to continue playing, but if he does, he could turn out to be a bargain of a free agent and can play some left field.
Senzel hasn’t lived up to the billing of a second overall pick, recording just a .671 OPS over his MLB career with the Reds. However, his versatility could attract a team like the Braves. He can play all over the outfield as well as second and third base. With Nicky Lopez being traded, Senzel would probably be a cheaper option that could fill the same role.
Hudson had a terrific start to his career with the Cardinals, which included a 2019 campaign in which he went 16-7 with a 3.35 ERA. His 2020 season started even better, but a torn UCL brought all of his momentum to a screeching halt and he hasn’t been the same pitcher since. Last year, Hudson went 6-3 with a 4.98 ERA in 18 appearances (12 starts). The Braves need rotation help and have been really good at reviving players’ careers. Perhaps the 29-year-old Hudson would be worth a flier.
Cimber was abysmal this year, recording a 7.40 ERA in 22 appearances, but he was an ultra-reliable reliever before then. In 2022, he posted a 2.80 ERA over a league-leading 77 appearances. The year before, he had a 2.26 ERA over 72 appearances. Cimber’s cut from a similar cloth as Collin McHugh. He forces soft contact with deception rather than velocity. With McHugh on his way out, Cimber would be a much cheaper option that could provide similar results.
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