Braves: Best free agents still available at each position of need

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It’s the middle of January, and the Braves haven’t made a free-agent signing since before Thanksgiving. Normally, I would say that’s a bit worrisome, but as we know, this has been far from a normal year. COVID-19, along with the uncertainty surrounding the DH being in the National League in 2021, has slowed things down significantly for the entire league. However, over the last week or so, we’ve seen things pick up, and that will have to continue as pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report in about a month.

The Braves still have a lot of work to do, and I fully expect them to make several substantial signings between now and spring training. Their most significant needs are in left field, the bullpen, potentially third base (if they aren’t fully committed to Austin Riley), and they have to fill out their bench, so I’ll be breaking down the best-remaining free-agents at each of these positions. Thankfully, there is a ton of talent remaining.

Outfield

  1. George Springer
  2. Marcell Ozuna
  3. Michael Brantley
  4. Jackie Bradley Jr.
  5. Nelson Cruz
  6. Eddie Rosario
  7. Adam Duvall
  8. Jurickson Profar
  9. Brett Gardner

The outfield market hasn’t even begun to take shape yet. However, once Springer inks his multi-year deal, that will change quickly. I don’t imagine the Braves are seriously considering meeting Springer’s lofty demands. It was reported earlier this offseason that he is looking for somewhere around $175 million. Bringing back Ozuna is probably the biggest the Braves will go. That would require Alex Anthopoulos to feel comfortable offering at least three, maybe even a four-year contract, which Buster Olney called ‘unlikely.

After that, there’s a significant drop-off. Perhaps the Braves end up with a player like Michael Brantley, who has been a solid doubles guy for years, but a name I think we should watch out for is Nelson Cruz. He is a home-run machine that also hits for average and doesn’t appear to be slowing down as he enters his 40s. The Braves would have to be comfortable with him in the outfield if there is no DH in the National League, but that might be something they come to accept if Cruz is willing to take one of Alex Anthopoulos’ infamous one-year contracts.

Bullpen

  1. Kirby Yates
  2. Brad Hand
  3. Alex Colomé
  4. Trevor Rosenthal
  5. Mark Melancon
  6. Shane Greene
  7. Justin Wilson
  8. Joakim Soria
  9. Darren O’Day
  10. Anthony Bass

The reliever market has heated up significantly over the last week, as we’ve seen plenty of the top players sign, and most recently, the Blue Jays are reportedly close to landing Kirby Yates. Still, there’s plenty of talent left, including all three Braves relievers that became free agents this offseason. I would love to see Atlanta upgrade and grab Yates, Hand, or Colomé but bringing back Greene and Melancon would still give them one of the leagues’ best relief cores.

Third Base

  1. Justin Turner
  2. Tommy La Stella
  3. Maikel Franco
  4. Enrique Hernandez
  5. Marwin Gonzalez
  6. Jedd Gyorko
  7. Asdrubal Cabrera
  8. Brock Holt

The third baseman market is barren, which is why I think it’s not very likely the Braves look to upgrade over Austin Riley this offseason. However, they could be in the market for a backup plan. Johan Camargo hasn’t proven he can handle that role over the last two seasons, so bringing in a Marwin Gonzalez or Asdrubal Cabrera to serve as a safety net would make sense.

The Bench

  1. Marwin Gonzalez
  2. Eddie Rosario
  3. Maikel Franco
  4. Enrique Hernandez
  5. Asdrubal Cabrera
  6. Jedd Gyorko
  7. Brett Gardner
  8. Adam Duvall
  9. Ryan Braun
  10. Cameron Maybin
  11. Steven Souza Jr.
  12. Todd Frazier
  13. Freddy Galvis
  14. Jonothan Villar
  15. Brock Holt
  16. Yadier Molina
  17. Tyler Flowers
  18. Wilson Ramos
  19. Jason Castro
  20. Alex Avila

This is simply a hodgepodge list of 20 names in no particular order that could potentially come off the bench or serve in platoon roles for the Braves. Atlanta needs a utility man, a backup catcher, and a power bat at the very least after losing Nick Markakis, Tyler Flowers, Charlie Culberson, Adam Duvall, and Adeiny Hechavarria to free agency. Expect to see the Braves linked to several of these names and more in the coming weeks.

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