The Braves woke up fans from hibernation with their signing of an old friend, Brian McCann. It is unknown if the Braves are completely finished in the catchers market, but right now, it looks like McCann will take over the Kurt Suzuki role as Atlanta continues a catching platoon. A couple hours later, those same fans were in a frenzy as Ken Rosenthal reported the Braves were in the works of signing a one-year, $23 million dollar deal for the 2015 AL MVP, Josh Donaldson.
$23 million may be a hefty annual sum, but the length of the deal makes it a low-risk, high reward move; however, it’s a move that opened the door to more questions than it did answers. The Braves already had a youthful left side of the infield in Dansby Swanson and Johan Camargo. They also have a third-base prospect looming in Austin Riley. At least one of them is going to have to take a reduced role as a utility man, and perhaps it’s a signal that there is a blockbuster trade on the horizon.
Early thoughts are that Johan Camargo will serve as a super utility man for an Atlanta. He can play all four positions on the infield, and as Jon Heyman points out, they even feel like he can play outfield if need be.
With Josh Donaldson deal official, Johan Camargo moves to super utility for Braves. All 4 infield positions, plus a little outfield. “Our Marwin Gonzalez”
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 27, 2018
That may be the case for now, but there is a long way until the start of next season, and Alex Anthopoulos has shown he isn’t afraid to make major moves. David O’Brien, of the Athletic, suggests not to count out Camargo as trade bait.
Don't write off Camargo as trade bait. Indications are he could be a super-utility guy. Anthopoulos wants to improve bench further, and wants to give guys more days off in 2019.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) November 27, 2018
I tend to agree with O’Brien here, except I would take it a step further and say do not rule out Camargo, Swanson or Riley as potential trade bait. Camargo will bring the most back in return after his stellar campaign last year (it is more impressive when you consider he began the year injured and really struggled in his first month back). With that being said, I am not so sure Camargo is a sell-high candidate. This might not even be the best we have seen from the 24-year old.
Swanson is a fan-favorite, a winner, a clutch bat and plays quality defense, but there’s no getting around Camargo has been the far better player over their two years in the big leagues.
Of course, the Braves could opt to play the waiting game like Heyman is suggesting. After all, the Donaldson deal is only for one year, and if he performs like we all hope, there’s a fat chance he’s back in a Braves uniform in 2020. The team can always offer him a qualifying offer with the potential of bringing him back at alower rate, and if not, they can net a draft pick. As a result, the Braves might start the season with Camargo as the super utility man and rely on the hot-hand as the year progresses.