With the Braves non-tendering Charlie Culberson, and the MLB expanding rosters to 26 men, Alex Anthopoulos has stumbled across another need: finding a bench bat for the infield. Johan Camargo is a quality, versatile piece, but they will have the luxury of adding another player. With Austin Riley, Adam Duvall, and Camargo capable of playing the outfield, focusing on finding a player up the middle is logical. The good news is, as much as Braves fans love Culberson, there are a handful of options at their disposal who can be had at bargain-bin prices.
According to Mark Bowman of MLB.com, non-tendering Charlie Culberson “may increase the odds” of the Braves re-signing Adeiny Hechavarria. He was unbelievable in a small sample size with the Braves, and while his bat is due for some serious regression, he adds an elite defender to the team at the very least. Something tells me that non-tendering Charlie Clutch means the Braves are trying to go defense-first with the last bench spot.
Russell was non-tendered by the Cubs Monday. I would not pay any sort of premium for him, but if he can be had dirt-cheap, he is still a young player with a ton of upside who could benefit from a change of scenery. Not too long ago, he was a 22-year old All-Star. Things have not been as fruitful since then, on and off the field. And I would not fault the Braves for opting to go in another direction due to the off-field issues. However, Russell is just 25 years old and can present an upgrade off the bench in the middle of the diamond. Despite all these issues, he will probably be a tad bit too expensive for the Braves as they seek another starting pitcher and a third baseman.
The former top prospect of the Braves was dealt in the dreadful Hector Olivera trade and was moved shortly after that to the Reds. On Monday, they non-tendered the 25-year old. Low on-base percentages have prevented Peraza from tapping into is potential, though he did have a solid 2018. The Braves could look to bring him back as a bench bat who can cover shortstop and second base, with the hope that he can flash as he did down on the farm. Peraza also offers some speed as a pinch-runner.
Zobrist may be on his last legs at age 38, but he can cover practically the entire diamond. He dealt with a personal matter for the majority of 2019 but remained a viable option. In 2018, his last full year in the bigs, he was outstanding. The Braves could go for Zobrist, who is basically an upgraded version of Charlie Culberson. At this point in his career, his services should not be too costly.
Gennett was one of the best hitters in the bigs in 2017 and 2018 but fell off the face of the earth last season. The biggest knock here will be that he does not play shortstop. Theoretically, you could have Gennett come in and switch Albies to short, though I am not sure the team would necessarily be crazy about that. He is the least versatile and may not be the best fit for Atlanta, but he is the most significant upside play of all the aforementioned and has the potential to be the best buy-low signing of this offseason for any team.