The Braves have been shopping from the bargain bin this offseason. Their only two free agent signings have been Nick Anderson — whose contract is partially guaranteed — and Jordan Luplow, who was Alex Anthopoulos’ most lucrative addition, signing a one-year contract worth just $1.4 million. Like most Braves fans, I’m hopeful more moves are on the way, but for that to happen, one of Atlanta’s currently rostered outfielders may need to find a new home.
As I wrote earlier today, left field remains a blackhole for the Braves, one that needs to be addressed before the start of the season. I love the addition of Jordan Luplow, but he’s nothing more than a bench option with some upside. He shouldn’t be relied on to start consistently. However, following the signing of Luplow, the Braves now have six rostered outfielders. If they plan to upgrade the position, at least one of them will need to be moved to make room.
My eyes are on Marcell Ozuna and Eddie Rosario. Both of them have contracts the Braves would like to trade, no matter how unlikely. Of the two, Rosario would be much easier to deal. He only has one year and $9 million left on his contract. Rosario also had a stellar 2021 and doesn’t have any off the field concerns. I don’t think it would be too difficult for the Braves to find a trade partner if they desired.
Moving Ozuna will be next to impossible. He’s still owed $33 million over the next two seasons, has produced at below replacement level since a terrific 2020 campaign, and has been arrested twice in the last two years. Nobody is taking on Ozuna’s contract unless the Braves include multiple top prospects, which I believe they would be hesitant to do. However, an outright release may not be out of the question. Perhaps the Braves see how he handles Spring Training, but Ozuna is on his last leg with the organization. If he struggles, the Braves will have to finally eat the money and cut the cord.
There’s also a less exciting way for the Braves to go. One of the six rostered outfielders is Sam Hilliard. He’s a quality depth piece, but there’s no guarantee he makes the Opening Day roster and is out of options. If the Braves do add another outfielder through free agency, moving on from Hilliard would be pretty painless.
It’s also entirely possible Alex Anthopoulos is done adding to the position, but I’m hoping that isn’t the case. Left field remains a massive disadvantage for the Braves, and unlike shortstop, it can still be fixed at a very affordable rate.
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