I’ve pretty much covered free agency from all angles this offseason. If there’s a name that could potentially be on the Braves’ radar, I’ve talked about them at length. However, because of the lockout, sometimes I even forget which free agents are still available. So I thought now would be a good time to sit back and review who the Braves might move quickly after once this mess ends. This is the first part of a multi-part series where I will rank the free agents by position, beginning with the outfield.
*Note: This list is not based purely on talent; potential contract and their fit with the Braves will also play a substantial factor.
Top Outfield Free Agents
9. Andrew McCutchen
McCutchen’s days as an MVP caliber player are long gone, but he’s still a solid veteran option that shouldn’t cost too much. His presence would also be a perfect fit in the Braves clubhouse.
8. Joc Pederson
There’s about a 90% chance Pederson plays elsewhere next season. He wants to be an everyday player, and I just don’t see that happening in Atlanta. However, I would love to have him back as a platoon option.
7. Kyle Schwarber
Talent-wise, Schwarber probably deserves to be higher on this list. However, given how much he will cost, I don’t think he’s someone the Braves should be aggressively targeting.
6. Tommy Pham
Pham’s a solid utility player that boasts a career .810 OPS. I haven’t heard anything linking him to the Braves, but I’m sure there is some interest.
5. Eddie Rosario
Rosario is as consistent as they come at the plate. You can almost pencil him in for an .800 OPS every season. Plus, he’s a Braves playoff hero. For the right price, I’m sure Alex Anthopoulos would love to bring him back.
4. Kris Bryant
Again, as far as talent goes, Bryant is probably the best player on this list, but the former NL MVP will easily get the largest contract among the remaining outfield free agents. I don’t think that’s something the Braves will be interested in.
3. Nick Castellanos
The top three on this list were all very difficult to decide, but it all came down to value. Castellanos had an unbelievable season for the Reds last season. Because of that, I expect him to fetch a contract around 4-years, $80 million. If he hits like he did last season over his next contract, it will be well worth it, but I’m not sure those are realistic expectations.
2. Michael Conforto
After a down 2021, many people believe Conforto is a candidate to take a one-year, prove-it contract this offseason. If that’s the case, the Braves make too much sense. They’ve had a lot of success with such deals in the past. Plus, given all the outfield talent the Braves have in their farm system, I think they would much rather sign someone short-term than handing out a multi-year contract.
1. Jorge Soler
Some might call me crazy, but there’s not an outfielder on the market that I would rather the Braves sign than their own Jorge Soler. Following his hot stretch to end last season, he’s expected to sign a multi-year contract, but I still think it will be a deal that he could outperform. Soler’s adjustments he made once he joined the Braves appear sustainable, and if that’s the case, I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit 100+ homers over the next three seasons. Just imagine having that in the middle of the Braves order at a reasonable price. It’s a gamble that I think would pay off in a substantial way.