The whole point of the Braves’ rebuild was to bring long-term success to the team at a rate they could realistically afford. However, the team was willing to put forward nearly $40 million more dollars towards the team’s payroll. $32 million of these funds will off the books when Jaime Garcia, R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon become free agents, and the team will likely look to reallocate these resources. Let’s take a look at some guys on the free agent market who could really help the Braves.
The arms are starting to come up for the Braves. However, if the team loses Dickey, Colon and Garcia, they will need at least one veteran to eat innings and provide a chance to win every five days. Sabathia could get a contract similar to Bartolo Colon’s, a one-year deal that pays him north of eight figures. He has had a nice year for the Yankees, but the team may have learned their lesson with signing starters who are getting up there in age. With it being a short term deal, there’s no reason not to bring him on board. However, the team may want to invest this money in a true frontline starter if they plan on having so many cost-controlled starters for years to come.
The Braves have stockpiled pitching because it is expensive, and that makes sense. However, with no money tied up in the rotation past this season, investing in a guy like Yu Darvish could be a smart move for the team. Sure, Darvish would not come cheap. However, having Darvish and Julio Teheran at the top of the rotation changes everything. Imagine if the money the Braves spent on Dickey and Bartolo went to a frontline starter? Imagine a rotation of Darvish, Teheran, Foltynewicz, and Newcomb and whatever prospect steps up between now and the end of the season, matched with Atlanta’s lineup with a healthy Freddie Freeman. Yu Darvish is the type of pitcher that separates the Braves from being a sub-.500 team from being a potential wild card team.
Lynn is not quite as good as Darvish, but he is not too far off. They actually have eerily similar career numbers, with Darvish whiffing more batters. Lynn may be too pricey for the Braves’ liking, but the thought of him on a three-year deal sounds appealing.
If the Braves are serious about competing, gone should be the days of watching Eric O’Flaherty trying to retire lefties. McGee is coming off a down year, but has had a huge bounce back year. McGee would cost a bit of change for a releiver, but they currently have no money tied up in their bullpen. The unit has improved mightily but is missing that last piece. Perhaps AJ Minter will step up and the team will not have to go out spending, but it would not hurt to have both.
If the Braves go after a southpaw and do not want to pay McGee, Abad would still be an effective, cheaper option.