Could the Braves trade for Willy Adames to fill void at shortstop?

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The Braves biggest hole this offseason is at shortstop. The bullpen and left field need to be addressed, but it all comes secondary to figuring out what they are going to do at arguably the most important position on the diamond. For the first time in his career, Dansby Swanson is testing free agency as Atlanta tries to work out a long-term extension with the former No. 1 overall pick.

As we saw last offseason, Alex Anthopoulos refuses to overpay for anyone, which is why Freddie Freeman left Atlanta for Los Angeles, and the Braves ended up trading for and extending Matt Olson. Something similar could certainly unfold with Dansby Swanson, though the situations differ slightly. When AA traded for Olson, the first base market was barren. The same cannot be said for the shortstop free agent market.

Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, and Swanson make up one of the most star-studded free agent classes in recent memory. Correa is the youngest and will reset the market for the position. He’s terrific in the box and just as talented in the field. Oh yeah, he’s also lights out in October. Turner is the best offensive shortstop in the game and would make the Braves a 100-win team every season, and while Bogaerts may leave a little meat on the bone defensively, he’s as reliable as they come with the stick.

The Braves could go in any direction. Hell, they could even look internally. The club remains adamant about increasing the payroll and entering the top five. However, if they wanted to avoid going into the luxury tax and filling the void internally, Alex Anthopoulos could turn to the trade market. Much like the Braves did with Olson and Freeman last offseason, AA could trade for a cheaper shortstop than Swanson, and Willy Adames is the perfect candidate.

With the Rays, Adames was always a good player, but he exploded on the scene in Milwaukee, becoming one of the best players at the position. With the Brewers, Adames has slashed .256/.325/.483/ with 51 home runs and 57 doubles over two seasons. Defensively, he’s no slouch, either. His 10 OAA ties him for sixth among all shortstops.

Adames is 27 years old, comes with a projected $9.2 million salary in 2023, and is under team control until 2025. He won’t be cheap, prospect-wise, and the Braves don’t exactly have a rich farm system anymore after trading a slew of top prospects to Oakland. Still, there are several players that would interest any club in baseball.

A trade like this comes to fruition if Anthopoulos feels he can buy out Adames’ remaining arbitration years and extend him at a cost-effective rate compared to Swanson, just like he did a year ago with Matt Olson. The only thing holding this hypothetical back is the cost of acquiring a player of Adames’ caliber with an already thin farm system.

Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire
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