Braves named a top landing spot for powerful outfield free agent

MLB: AUG 15 Mariners at Royals

Outside of adding one more piece to their rotation, the Braves have to make some sort of move to address their left field situation. There have been some murmurs from inside the organization that Vaughn Grissom could get a look, but there are two potential issues with that.

First, it’s not even a guarantee that Grissom is on the Braves roster next season. Atlanta has been named a finalist for White Sox ace Dylan Cease, and if a trade does come to fruition, Grissom very well could be included. But even if another team snags Cease, there’s the potential that Grissom could be dealt in another trade to bolster the rotation.

Secondly, the Braves can’t go into the 2024 season solely relying on Grissom to be the starting left fielder. At the very least, there needs to be a backup plan. I expect the Braves to add at least one and most likely two outfielders this offseason, and Bleacher Report has an intriguing candidate to keep in mind.

Brandon Scott recently came up with his top 10 landing spots for slugging outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, and the Braves clocked in as his eighth best fit.

8. Atlanta

Hernández is not the ideal candidate for Atlanta to fill its void in left field, but the possibility has to be considered. Atlanta let Eddie Rosario walk, and the outfield free-agent class is not exactly deep…or young.

At age 31, Hernández is a younger option than Michael Brantley (37), Tommy Pham and David Peralta (both 36), or bringing back their own in Adam Duvall (35).

Atlanta already has a top-six payroll in baseball going into 2024, having locked in so many of its young stars. One of the older outfielder options might make more sense for the short term, but Hernández offers a dynamic middle-of-the-order caliber bat on a squad full of them.

A move like this could turn what is already a regular-season front-runner into a cheat code. Atlanta’s outfield ranked third in fWAR, but was carried by NL MVP Ronald Acuña in right field. In left field, Atlanta ranked 19th in fWAR.

Scott’s not wrong about the Braves potentially going the veteran route, but I don’t agree with his reasoning.

It’s not like the Braves have a bright young outfield prospect on the horizon. In fact, they don’t have anything close unless Vaughn Grissom proves able to take over the position. Signing a veteran to a short term deal would just be a band-aid on the problem, and while that might be the route they go, it will be because they don’t have the money to splurge on an outfielder.

Hernandez will be 31-years-old next season and is searching for a multi-year offer this offseason. He won’t be cheap, because he’s proven to be as consistent as they come with the stick. Hernandez has at least 25 homers in every season since 2019, outside of the COVID shortened 2020 campaign, in which he had 16 homers in just 50 games.

I’m not expecting the Braves to spend big on their left field vacancy this offseason. But if they can land someone like Dylan Cease in a trade, who is under multiple years of control at an affordable rate, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities.

Photo: Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire

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