The MLB offseason has officially begun, and the Braves have been the most active team by far, already inking two of their best relievers to new contracts. Pierce Johnson signed a two-year deal last week, and Joe Jimenez signed a three-year pact this morning. It’s a nice start, but there is still plenty of work ahead for Alex Anthopoulos, who always seems to have at least a couple of tricks up his sleeve each offseason.
As we begin to look ahead to the 2024 campaign, Kerry Miller of Bleacher Report recently came up with his “Way-Too-Early Predictions for the 2024 MLB Playoffs and World Series.” They also included the biggest unknowns for each division.
For the NL East, the biggest unknown did not have anything to do with the Braves. It focused solely on the erratic New York Mets.
Biggest Unknown: How desperate are the Mets?
Yes, it’s the exact same unknown as the AL East: WTF will the NYC team do?
As with the Yankees, the Mets are already committed to about $200 million for next season. Just under $50 million of that is the retained money due to Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and James McCann, while the combination of Francisco Lindor, Starling Marte, Brandon Nimmo, Edwin Díaz, Kodai Senga, José Quintana, Jeff McNeil, Omar Narváez*, Adam Ottavino* and Brooks Raley^ make up the other $147.425 million.
Throw in somewhere around $20 million due to Pete Alonso in his final year of arbitration plus at least another $20 million to fill out the rest of the roster even if they do absolutely nothing in free agency, and Steve Cohen seems destined for another luxury tax payment.
They could get under the $237 million threshold by trading away Quintana and/or Alonso.
They also could just embrace the luxury-tax life once again by signing Shohei Ohtani and/or Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
As long as Steve Cohen is the owner of the Mets, the organization will always be relevant. They went on a spending spree last offseason. It ended up blowing up in their face, but money can solve a lot of problems.
After the trade deadline, there were several reports suggesting the Mets don’t plan to compete until at least 2025. However, Cohen doesn’t strike me as a patient man. I’ll continue going into every offseason expecting the Mets to be involved with the top free agents.
Now, to the predictions, which Braves fans should appreciate. Miller has Atlanta winning the division for the seventh consecutive year with 98 wins, the most of any National League team, setting up another rematch in the NLDS with the Phillies.
However, Miller believes the Braves will finally overcome their demons and meet up with the Cubs in the NLCS. He then has them advancing to the World Series against the Seattle Mariners, who are one of my personal favorite value bets to win the American League. The Mariners are already right there with the Rangers and Astros, the last two teams to win the World Series, and I expect Seattle to be big spenders this offseason.
Despite that, Miller has the Braves topping the Mariners in the World Series.
It means very little, but wherever you look — gambling odds, power rankings, predictions — the Braves are the favorites to win the World Series in 2024. Perhaps that changes once rosters are finalized ahead of Spring Training, but it’s a testament to the core of the Braves. They’ll be in the postseason again in 2024; they just have to perform when it matters most.
Eventually, that has to happen again, right?
Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire