The Braves season ended just over a week ago, and we are well underway here at SportsTalkATL with our offseason coverage. If you’ve missed some things, check out the Twitter thread below, featuring all of our Braves news thus far.
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This will be a hectic offseason for Alex Anthopoulos and company, as they aim to make the moves necessary to finally push the Braves over the top in the National League. A lot of the talk will be about potential new additions; however, the key may be focusing on retaining their own guys and locking up others for the foreseeable future.
Braves extend Freddie Freeman
I’m going to start with something that must get done. There’s no way the Braves should let Freeman test the open market next offseason, and he’s made it clear that isn’t something he’s even interested in. This is the top priority of the offseason, and one way or another, he will be a Brave for the foreseeable future.
There are a couple of directions I could see this going. Freeman might sign a mega-deal of sorts, ensuring that he is a Brave for life, taking him through his age-40 season. Or Freeman could take the same route that his buddy Chipper Jones did, settling for a couple of three-year contracts before finally deciding to hang it up. Either way, Freddie Freeman is going nowhere.
Braves bring back Marcell Ozuna
I predicted throughout last offseason that the Braves would bring back Josh Donaldson. Obviously, I turned out to be incorrect, and as of now, it looks to be a wise decision by Alex Anthopoulos. Still, I’m going to double down this offseason and say that the Braves bring back Marcell Ozuna. Unlike Donaldson, he’s much younger and much less injury-prone.
I also expect Ozuna to be a bit cheaper — somewhere in the 4-year, $85 million range. With the DH expected to be in the NL permanently by 2022 at the latest, it makes too much sense to bring him back. He put together a career-year in Atlanta and was a perfect fit as far as team-chemistry is concerned.
Braves re-sign Mark Melancon
After Marcell Ozuna, I think the next most important Brave to bring back is Mark Melancon. The 35-year-old is coming off another solid season as Atlanta’s closer, and Anthopoulos must try and keep this bullpen together as much as possible. As long as he’s willing to accept a two-year deal, Melancon should be re-signed by the Braves.
Braves let Shane Greene walk
Ideally, I would love to have both Melancon and Greene back next season, but to accomplish all of their goals, the Braves will have to let somebody walk. Being that Greene is four years younger than Melancon, I could see someone offering him a 3-4 year deal. Perhaps that is not the case because of the financial restrictions teams will face this offseason thanks to COVID-19, but if Greene finds a deal over two years, I can’t see the Braves matching.
Braves do not sign a high-priced starting pitcher
Atlanta’s rotation will already get a boost from the return of Mike Soroka. Max Fried and Ian Anderson have proven to be studs; I only think they will get better, and Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson showed some promise at the end of last season. Not to mention, the Braves still have a bunch of highly-touted youngsters that could contribute in the coming years.
As we saw this past season, you can never have too much starting pitching. However, since the Braves aren’t the Yankees or the Dodgers, they can’t just go out there and spend on whatever they want. They must be smart with their money, and they really don’t need to ink a high-priced rotation piece to a long-term contract this offseason. Look for them to add another starter, but most likely a veteran on a shorter deal.
Braves bring back Tyler Flowers on a one-year deal
This isn’t what many Braves fans will want to hear, but I think this is the right decision. William Contreras and Shea Langeliers aren’t ready to be everyday MLB players, and the other options on the free-agent market are not inspiring. Flowers ends up back in Atlanta for another season.
Braves pick up Darren O’Day‘s player option
This is a no-brainer. As long as O’Day doesn’t decide to hang it up this offseason, the Braves should certainly pick up his club option for 2021.
Braves non-tender Mike Foltynewicz
This is another no-brainer — at least, to me it is. The Braves already DFA’d Mike Foltynewicz this season, proving they are ready to move on from him. I don’t see any way they work out a deal with him this offseason. We have seen the last of Foltynewicz in a Braves uniform.
Braves part ways with Nick Markakis and he retires
I love Markakis, and there is a chance that he returns to Atlanta in more of a bench role. However, I’m not sure that is something he will want to do. Markakis either goes to a rebuilding club where he can play most days, or he decides to hang it up. I think it will be the latter.
Braves extend Dansby Swanson
I’ve been calling for it since before the season, and Swanson delivered in a big way with the best year of his still-young career. It’s overwhelmingly apparent that over the last two seasons he’s turned the corner with the bat, and he’s always been terrific defensively. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Braves can win a World Series with him as the starting shortstop.
Swanson still has two more arbitration years remaining, but I don’t see any reason why the Braves should wait. Purchase his last two years of arbitration and extend him for three or four more seasons after that. Swanson’s a winner, and he represents the city of Atlanta as well as anybody on the team.
Braves focus on improving their bench and relief core
Most of the items on this list have to do with their own guys. I believe that will be the priority this offseason. I mentioned above that the Braves will likely bring in at least one veteran starting pitcher, but outside of that, I think their focus will be on improving the bench and their relief core. Some of that can be done internally, with guys like Cristian Pache, Drew Waters, and Jeremy Walker, but I also think the Braves spend money in these areas to give them the best possible 26-man roster heading into next season.