While Liberty Media has been pretty reluctant to spend this offseason, Atlanta has brought back a lot of key pieces and still looks like one of the best teams in the majors. That being said, there are holes on this team — most notably on the bench. I think the Braves could benefit from a few of these names, but a trade is starting to seem likely. I also believe the bullpen could use one or two more guys, even though I like Nate Jones, Carl Edwards Jr. and Jacob Webb. Here are the remaining free agents that I think could help the Braves the most.
9. 3B Jake Lamb
2020 Stats: -0.2 WAR, .297 wOBA, 79 wRC, .635 OPS
Lamb looked like a superstar in the making in 2016 & 2017, mashing 59 home runs and 51 doubles over those two seasons. He was an All-Star in 2017 but fell off of a cliff after that. Injuries have played a role; however, he could be worth bringing to camp on a cheap deal.
8. 3B Maikel Franco
2020 Stats: 1.3 WAR, .329 wOBA, 106 wRC, .778 OPS
Maikel Franco quietly had a pretty good 2020. He is a bit of a liability on defense at times, but he should be fine as a fill in behind Austin Riley.
7. OF Josh Reddick
2020 Stats: -0.6 WAR, .304 wOBA, 95 wRC, .693 OPS
Reddick’s name isn’t one we have discussed a lot, and while his best days are behind him, the Effingham native could still make an impact. He has been one of the most consistent players in baseball over his career, and I think he’d welcome a homecoming after a tough end to his career in Houston. He hit for a .764 OPS in the three seasons prior to 2020, as well as playing solid enough defense.
6. RHP Taijuan Walker
2020 Stats: 53.1 IP, 2.70 ERA, .243 BABIP, 4.56 FIP, 8.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9
I did a full profile on Walker here, and while he doesn’t fit a need, you can never have enough starting pitching. Walker was fantastic in 2020, and I think he could stretch out in the bullpen if needed. Buyer beware — his FIP is high, indicating some regression may be coming.
5. INF Brad Miller
2020 Stats: 0.8 WAR, .349 wOBA, 121 wRC, .807 OPS
Brad Miller is one of my favorite options left on the market. He can hold down some first base duties and plays both middle infield spots well. These are arguably three of the weakest positions on Atlanta’s bench, and Miller has a lot of pop in his bat. He clubbed 30 home runs for Tampa in 2016 and is one season removed from an .894 OPS. The Phillies were reportedly closing in on a deal with Miller, but nothing is official yet.
4. OF Yasiel Puig
2019 Stats: 1.3 WAR, .330 wOBA, 101 wRC, .785 OPS
After agreeing in principle to a contract with the Braves during the 2020 season, a failed COVID test sidelined Yasiel Puig and voided the signing. We didn’t hear from him again, and fans questioned why he didn’t get another offer — especially after Adam Duvall went down with an injury during the 2020 postseason. Puig has a powerful right-handed swing, and he fits in with Atlanta’s clubhouse. He has some legal issues ongoing, but if those check out, I’d easily have him back.
3. OF Jackie Bradley Jr.
2020 Stats: 1.5 WAR, .352 wOBA, 120 wRC, .814 OPS
While defense *can* be overrated in baseball, I don’t think that’s the case for JBJ. He is truly one of the rangiest players in the game. Additionally, he’s coming off his best year at the plate. Bradley is certainly an upgrade over Ender Inciarte, and his sneaky power probably makes him my favorite player left on this list. It’s a shame the DH is on the shelf for now — Acuña Jr, Pache, and Jackie Bradley Jr. would be one hell of a defensive set in the outfield.
2. RHP Trevor Rosenthal
2020 Stats: 23.2 IP, 1.90 ERA, .238 BABIP, 2.83 FIP, 14.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9
Rosnethal was one of the most notorious closers in baseball until he got a case of the yips, but he was back with a vengance in 2020. I’d be wary of handing him anything over one year, but he notched 93 saves from 2014-2015 and could compete for the closer role coming out of spring.
1. RHP Shane Greene
2020 Stats: 27.2 IP, 2.60 ERA, .267 BABIP, 3.81 FIP, 6.8 K/9, 3.2 BB/9
Let’s not reinvent the wheel here. Shane Greene was fantastic for the Braves in 2020, and I’d love to have him back. I’m not sure what the disconnect is here, but hopefully Atlanta can work something out with him before the season. It’s clear his market isn’t what he thought it would be, so maybe Anthopoulos’ waiting will get him a discount.
Photo: Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire