Braves: One undervalued free agent at each position: Outfield

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Free agency is all about finding value, and few general managers have been able to do that better than Alex Anthopoulos. The Braves will never have one of the largest payrolls, and with so many free agents of their own that they are trying to retain, they’ll need to find some hidden value this offseason if they want to repeat as champions. So in this series, I’ll be coming up with one undervalued free agent at each position, beginning with the outfield, where the Braves have plenty of holes to fill.

Michael Conforto

Conforto is a player I’ve already mentioned a couple of times this offseason because he makes a lot of sense for the Braves. Following the worst season of his career, he’s the perfect candidate for one of Alex Anthopoulos’ one-year contracts.

The former New York Met recorded the lowest batting average (.232) and OPS (.729) of his career last season, but his advanced analytics suggest he’s in line for some positive regression.

  • Expected Weighted On Base Average (xwOBA) – Top 27%
  • Chase Rate – Top 20%
  • Walk Percentage (BB%) – Top 13%
  • Expected Slugging Percentage xSLG) – Top 45%
  • Barrel% – Top 42%

Conforto also comes with a track record of success. He hit .322 with a .927 OPS during the shortened 2020 campaign and carries a career OPS+ of 124, which is 24% above average. On top of that, Conforto can play anywhere in the outfield. He’s not necessarily a guy you want to have in center field, but much like Adam Duvall, he can play there in a pinch.

With a better 2021 season, Conforto is a player that would have commanded a multi-year contract that could have looked a lot like Marcell Ozuna‘s. That’s not the case anymore, but he could take a similar route to Ozuna, betting on himself and signing a one-year deal with a competitive team. We’ve seen it work in Atlanta with both Ozuna and Josh Donaldson, who both signed lucrative multi-year deals the following offseason. If Conforto doesn’t get the kind of contract he’s looking for this winter, taking a gamble with the Braves could pay substantial dividends.

Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

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