The Braves haven’t made any big moves this offseason, the most significant acquisition came Wednesday night when the club acquired reliever Joe Jiménez from the Tigers in exchange for their top position-player prospect, Justyn-Henry Malloy.
The 277-pound righty is coming off the best season of his career, posting career highs in several metrics, including walk rate and strikeout rate. He’s got some nasty swing-and-miss stuff, evident in his 12.23 K/9, which ranked fifth in the American League. Jiménez only has one year left of team control, so considering the assets given up, it’s safe to assume Alex Anthopoulos tries to extend the 27-year-old.
It bolsters an already talented bullpen, but the offseason just began. And Alex Anthopoulos is operating with the notion that every facet of the roster can be upgraded. “We can get better in the bullpen, the rotation, and (the offense). We literally can get better in all areas, it’s just finding the deal that makes the most sense and not being stuck on ‘It has to be in the bullpen’ or ‘It needs to be in the rotation’ or ‘It needs to be with a position player.'”
Obviously, the chief concern of Braves Country is the void at shortstop. Dansby Swanson rejected an offer worth around $100 million during the season, and most recently, Jon Heyman reported a rumor that the Braves rejected Swanson’s $140 million counteroffer. It’s beginning to look like the club won’t have the highest offer on the market for Swanson, which means the Georgia native will be taking less money to stay in Atlanta.
The Braves could turn to a combination of Vaughn Grissom and Orlando Arcia; if it doesn’t work, Anthopoulos could always address the position at the trade deadline. Still, AA isn’t operating with the notion he has to spend money on a shortstop; he’s looking for value.
Contrary to popular belief, the club isn’t pinching pennies. If Swanson isn’t re-signed, it won’t be because of a lack of funds. It’ll be because Anthopoulos doesn’t see Swanson’s asking price equivalent to his value. The most senior level individuals in the Braves and Liberty Media organizations have stated a handful of times they expect the team to be a top-five payroll.
Still, there are plenty of ways to upgrade the roster. The left field situation needs addressing, and the club could see value in giving Andrew Benintendi or Michael Conforto a multi-year deal. Hell, if there’s a deal to be made, the Braves could make a run at Brandon Nimmo. The bullpen can be upgraded as well. Adam Ottavino, Taylor Rogers, and Andrew Chaffin would make it arguably the deepest in baseball.
The starting rotation is as solid as any in baseball, and a significant addition wouldn’t make too much sense. Still, Anthopoulos left the door open to signing a frontline starter at the beginning of the offseason. Someone like Chris Bassitt, Carlos Rodón, or Nathan Eovaldi is doubtful, but the Braves are leaving no stone unturned.
There is also the avenue of upgrading the roster via trade. Liam Hendricks is a potential target. Bryan Reynolds is another option. Both would cost serious assets from Atlanta, but Hendricks would give Atlanta the nastiest relief core in baseball. And Reynolds would more than solidify the outfield. The point remains, though: Alex Anthopoulos is willing to upgrade any position if the price is right.
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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