Braves: Offseason moves that must get done

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Atlanta did an excellent job ponying up some serious cash this offseason, but 2021 is the time to spend big and create a juggernaut. The COVID-19 situation will hurt Liberty Media’s wallet, but I’m not interested in hearing them cry poor. Good teams spend money. 

If Liberty Media is serious about competing, it’s time to write some checks. There are some other moves I’m interested in — extending Fried, Soroka, Dansby, and d’Arnaud would all make me happy. However, these are not as pressing as what I have listed below.

Re-Sign Shane Greene

As crazy as this sounds, this may very well be the most important move on this list, with the status of the DH in the NL up in the air for 2021. Shane Greene has been absolutely dominant in 2020. After giving up highly touted prospect Joey Wentz in exchange for his services last season, he’s already paid dividends. Now the team needs him for the World Series run. Greene has been worth a whole 1 WAR in just 17.1 IP. He had a rough patch when he first came to Atlanta, but he’s made Alex Anthopoulos look like a brilliant man. This bullpen has been humming and feels stable for the first time in years; I don’t want to lose that.

Re-Sign Marcell Ozuna

As I mentioned, the DH isn’t set in stone for the Braves just yet. However, Ozuna’s bat has been good enough to potentially make it a non-factor. He’ll likely be looking for four years and a healthy payday, but guys who hit for a .987 OPS & 11 Bombs in 35 games don’t come cheap. If the DH is in play, it will allow the Braves to play Cristian Pache, Ronald Acuña Jr., and Drew Waters in the outfield all at once. With Ozuna, there wouldn’t be a hole in the lineup. Signing him and letting Donaldson go was the right move; this is the guy that you lock up for 4 years. Pay the man. 

Re-Sign Darren O’Day, and possibly Mark Melancon

O’Day is 38, but he looks like a spring chicken in 2020. The man who was a disappearing act after coming over in the Gausman trade has shown he’s still got it. His 0.93 ERA in 9.2 innings may very well be sustainable for another season, and it allows O’Day to win a ring before he retires. 

Melancon is a toss-up. He’s on a massive contract at the moment and could potentially be looking for another big deal. Melancon, Greene, and Martin have combined for over 2 WAR, which is ridiculous for a trio of relief arms in a shortened season. I want to keep the band together. 

Extend Freddie Freeman

Freddie Freeman’s free-agency will be a hot topic starting next season. I’d prefer to avoid that. He is the best first baseman in baseball, and he deserves to be paid as such. Freeman is currently sporting a 15 game hit streak with a .985 OPS, quietly putting together an MVP season post-COVID-19. He’s the face of the franchise, and his contract status should never be a distraction. 

Hopefully, Freddie would be willing to accept a healthy backloaded deal. Giving this team a 2-3 year cushion on a lengthy contract to make him a Brave for life would be amazing, following in the footsteps of another lifetime Brave… Chipper Jones.

Sign Trevor Bauer or Marcus Stroman

One injury almost completely crippled this team in 2020. Mike Soroka will hopefully be healthy to start 2021, but even if he is, one of these guys could put this team over the top. 

Trevor Bauer has been disgusting this season and deserves every dollar coming his way. His numbers are video game-esque. 54 Ks in 38 IP with a 0.78 WHIP would typically have you starting an All-Star game. He’s also only walked 11 batters, which is important to Braves fans for obvious reasons. Bringing back Greene & Ozuna while adding Bauer wouldn’t be cheap, but Gerrit Cole showed us that elite pitchers can be worth every penny. Bauer has also said on the record MULTIPLE times that he’s only accepting 1-year contracts from now on. I know a team that hands out quite a few of those. It’s fate. 

Marcus Stroman coming over from the Mets after only giving them 11 starts would be so sweet. However, as much fun as screwing over the Mets is, he has had some injury problems, but that may make him a more realistic target. His career 3.76 ERA should be very appealing, and if he’s healthy, I have no problem with him coming down south.

Call up William Contreras to replace Tyler Flowers

I’m not gonna dump on Tyler Flowers. He’s cooled off from his hot start, but he’s still been solid. However, after what I saw from William Contreras when Flowers & d’Arnaud were out early in the season, I’m ready to give him the reigns. d’Arnaud still has another year on his deal, so he can be the anchor while Contreras gets his feet under him. 

Contreras smoked an absolute nuke in the exhibition game off of Ian Anderson and got four hits in 10 ABs when he received his first cup of coffee in the majors. We may see him again in 2020, but the sample size I’ve seen so far shows me that he’s ready to get some work in Atlanta. 

Take another flier on Cole Hamels

This one may stir up some controversy, and it’s very conditional. Bare with me. We’ve yet to see Hamels, but he could be a late resurrection. He’s getting closer to a return, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence Max Fried has made such a massive leap. His price tag should come way down from $18 million this offseason, and if he can be brought back at a much more moderate rate, this is a no brainer to me. 

This could all change depending on what Hamels gives the Braves when (if) he returns to the team. Atlanta should have other guys ready, but I’m drooling thinking about a Trevor Bauer, Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Ian Anderson, and Cole Hamels rotation. If his price tag is still high, Atlanta can always turn to Tucker Davidson or Kyle Muller. 

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