A few “prove-it deal” free agent candidates for the Atlanta Braves

Braves Joey Gallo

Some of the best free agent signings Alex Anthopoulos has made were low-cost diamonds in the rough. The Braves President of Baseball Operations has made a living off giving once high-profile players coming off down years, sometimes because of injuries, prove-it deals. They’re low-risk, high-reward moves that add up. AA has already acquired a pair of these cases in Sam Hilliard and Nick Anderson, but they won’t be the last. The team still has needs at shortstop, left field, and the bullpen. Since I don’t think the Braves will┬ábe relying on a prove-it-deal free-agent candidate to take over for Dansby Swanson, we’ll stick with outfield and relief pitching options.

Adam Duvall, OF

Duvall is an obvious candidate to return on a one-year deal. He’s coming off a serious wrist injury and has history with the club. The Braves sorely missed his pop in the postseason, and he’s still as solid as ever in the field. Eddie Rosario and Marcell Ozuna are the current rostered options for left field, but many speculate one or both won’t be on the Opening Day roster.

Before going down with the wrist injury, Duvall was actually finding his groove and looking like the version we saw in 2021, where he totaled 38 home runs, 113 RBIs, and won a Gold Glove. Despite being 34 years old, I’d love to have Duvy back in Atlanta. He’s the most reliable option on the list and therefore, likely the most expensive. Still, Duvall won’t break the bank.

Joey Gallo, OF

Gallo’s 2022 campaign was one he’d like to forget. It’s honestly a wild story. In 2021, he was, by all accounts, a good player. Gallo has never been a high-average type of hitter, but since being traded from the Rangers, he’s hit .160 — that is downright horrendous. Prior to landing in New York during the 2021 trade deadline, Gallo had an .869 OPS thanks to 25 home runs in 95 games.

Once he got to The Big Apple, the lights were seemingly too bright. Gallo’s strikeout rate rocketed up, and his average fell off a cliff. But if Gallo can return to his 2021 level of play, the Braves would be fools not to consider signing him. It would be the definition of a prove-it deal. Unfortunately, the Braves are aiming for championships; imagining Gallo and Rosario/Ozuna playing every day isn’t reassuring.

Jason Heyward, OF

Now, Heyward isn’t in the same category as Gallo and Duvall despite being an outfielder. The former Brave wouldn’t be signed and expected to even platoon. He’d be assuming a role similar to Guillermo Heredia, who was nothing more than a defensive substitute late in games on the field. Off the field is where most of his value lies. Heyward’s veteran leadership could prove quite valuable for a relatively young team, specifically the outfield with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Michael Harris II.

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