Braves: Upcoming free agent class leaves a lot to be desired

MLB: JUL 19 Padres at Blue Jays

Like every sport, free agency in baseball is one of the most exciting times of the year, and this one will center around one name — Shohei Ohtani. The Japanese superstar might be the best player to ever pick up a baseball, and there’s a chance he could receive as much as $600 million this offseason. It will assuredly be the largest contract ever handed out, and every team with money to spend will be rolling out the red carpet for his services.

After Ohtani, however, this upcoming free agent class isn’t nearly as star-studded as we’ve seen in the past. Just last offseason, we saw well over $2 billion handed out to free agents, led by marquee names such as Aaron Judge, Trea Turner, and Carlos Correa. That won’t be the case this winter.

Kiley McDaniel of ESPN recently came up with his list of the top 10 upcoming free agents, and this is what it looks like.

  1. Shohei Ohtani
  2. Matt Chapman
  3. Blake Snell
  4. Yoshinobu Yamamoto
  5. Aaron Nola
  6. Josh Hader
  7. Eduardo Rodriguez
  8. Julio Urias
  9. Cody Bellinger
  10. Lucas Giolito

The Braves’ focus this winter should be on fixing the issues within their pitching staff. For the most part, their lineup is locked into long-term contracts, and they have the best offense in baseball. Perhaps, they look to upgrade left field, but that’s about the only place on the field that could use bolstering.

Adding another high quality starting pitcher should be the top priority. Charlie Morton could decide to retire, and even if he doesn’t, the Braves might not pick up his $20 million option. There are a few names on this list that would be fantastic additions — like Snell, Nola, and Urias — but they are all candidates to be severely overpaid. I’m not sure the Braves are going to be willing to meet any of their asking prices, and when Lucas Giolito is potentially the fifth-best starter available, you know it’s one of the weaker free agent classes in recent memory. Other potential starting pitching options include Marcus Stroman, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery, and Michael Lorenzen.

The Braves could also stand to add to their bullpen, particularly at the back end, but again, there aren’t a ton of inspiring options unless they want to spend big bucks on Josh Hader, which isn’t exactly Alex Anthopoulos’ MO. Reynaldo Lopez, Aroldis Chapman, and Jordan Hicks are some other high-powered relievers that are set to hit the open market.

With the success of the team and The Battery, the Braves stand to be big players in free agency every offseason. It also helps that most of their team is locked into team-friendly contracts. But given the nature of the free agent class and how many teams will be looking to compete going into 2024, it won’t be easy for Alex Anthopoulos to find value. Thankfully, he has a knack for finding it where nobody else is looking.

Photographer: Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire


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