Despite the recent rumors that suggest Freddie Freeman will be signing elsewhere once the lockout ends, I remain of the belief that he will be a Brave for life. Perhaps that’s just hopeful optimism, but it is hard to believe the Braves would let him walk over one year following a World Series title. Regardless, we have to at least ponder life after Freeman, which is why most fans are set on A’s first baseman Matt Olson if Freeman does decide to depart.
That all sounds fine and dandy, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Even if the Athletics are dead set on dealing Olson, there will be a multitude of suitors lining up for his services. The prospect capital it will require to poach him will be eye-popping, and the Braves already have one of the weaker farm systems in baseball. So sure, there have been conversations between Atlanta and Oakland surrounding Matt Olson, but it would be foolish to assume a deal is anywhere close to in place.
But if not Freeman or Olson, then who? This is a question I’ve been pondering for quite some time because there aren’t a lot of straightforward answers. However, first base is one of the easier positions on the diamond, so it’s possible Alex Anthopoulos gets creative.
Rizzo is the obvious choice outside of Freeman or Olson. He’s an unrestricted free agent, so he wouldn’t cost any prospect capital. Plus, he is more than affordable. I wouldn’t mind adding Rizzo at all as the team’s first baseman. It would be buying low on a player who was once in the MVP conversation, and he would also be a tremendous addition to the clubhouse. It isn’t a popular opinion, but I think Rizzo could easily turn out to be a better bargain than Freeman or Olson.
Another unrestricted free agent, Schwarber won’t look the prettiest out there defensively, but he can get the job done, and his glove would not be why the Braves are signing him. Schwarber made the All-Star game for the first time last season and is a near lock to hit 30 home runs every season. That would play well in the middle of Atlanta’s lineup, and he will only cost about one-third of what Freeman will.
Now, it’s time to get a bit creative. I recently wrote an article discussing a hypothetical trade from Bleacher Report, which had the Braves acquiring Joey Gallo. The trade itself was trash. There’s no way the Braves give up Shea Langeliers for one year of Gallo. However, a move for Gallo could be something worth exploring. The Yankees might be willing to move him, he shouldn’t cost too much prospect capital, and he can play all over the diamond, including first base.
I don’t imagine the Yankees are actively looking to trade Voit, but it could become a possibility if they go out poach Freddie Freeman.
This might be a ridiculous assumption because Castellanos has never played first base in his career, but it could be something the Braves explore. Castellanos’ defense has always been his crux, so perhaps a move to a new position wouldn’t be such a terrible thing. Besides, nobody is signing him for his glove. The Braves would bring him in for the 30+ bombs and 30+ doubles he smacks per season. Castellanos can also play third base, in the outfield, or DH if first base doesn’t work out.
The answer to the Braves first base dilemma could actually come in house. It’s definitely not their first option. They would love to keep Riley at third base, where he made significant strides defensively last season, but he can play there in a pinch if need be. This gives Alex Anthopoulos a lot more flexibility when evaluating the free agent and trade markets.
Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire
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