Five marquee outfielders the Braves could target in free agency

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Outside of shortstop, figuring out who will start in left field is the Braves biggest offseason decision. I don’t expect Marcell Ozuna to be on the Opening Day roster next year, whether they trade or release him. And Eddie Rosario was among the worst players in baseball last season. The Braves can’t solely rely on him to play everyday. I expect Alex Anthopoulos to sign or trade for a starting-caliber outfielder. It could be a stopgap option, as they wait to see if one of their youngsters can assume the duties — like William Contreras, Vaughn Grissom, or top prospect Justyn-Henry Malloy. Or the Braves could look to the free agent market to establish their future at the position by signing one of the top guys to a multi-year deal.

Brandon Nimmo

It actually pains me to say this because I think the Mets are the most unlikable team in baseball, and a big reason for that is Brandon Nimmo and his schtick where he sprints to first base after a walk. It’s by far the lamest thing going in the sport. With that being said, Nimmo is an absolute stud. He’s a pest at the plate that can set the table for the Braves sluggers and play elite defense in the outfield. I actually think there is a case for Nimmo being the most valuable player on the Mets team, so poaching him away from a division rival would also be a plus. He’s the guy I am most interested in on this list, but I’m sure many other general managers share the same sentiment, so I find it unlikely the Braves can afford Nimmo and one of the top shortstops on the market.

Andrew Benintendi

I talked about Benintendi as a potential fit with the Braves last week. From that piece:

Benintendi was having a career year with the Royals in the final year of his contract, receiving his first All-Star nod. He was traded to the Yankees prior to the deadline but was unfortunately only able to play in 33 games before going down with a wrist injury that ended his season. However, he was apparently close to returning before the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs, so it’s not an issue that should be a problem next season.

Benintendi is a lot like Nimmo in that he could set the table for the rest of the Braves lineup at the top of the order. He also plays Gold Glove defense in the outfield; however, he doesn’t have the same pop in the bat that Nimmo showed this past season. Think of Benintendi as a light version of Nimmo, but because of that, I think he’s much more likely to be in the Braves price range.

Jurickson Profar

Profar has opted out of his contract with the Padres in search of a multi-year deal this offseason. He’s coming off a season in which he recorded a .723 OPS with a career-high 36 doubles to go along with 15 homers — good for 3.1 WAR. That’s pretty much who Profar has been at the plate throughout his entire career. Nothing elite, but he does many things well. However, what makes him desirable is his versatility. He can play left field or fill in at either of the middle infield spots in a pinch.

Mitch Haniger

Haniger can’t catch a break in the injury department. He even suffered a ruptured testicle back in 2019 and is coming off a season in which he played in just 57 games. For his career, he’s only played in over 100 games twice — 2018 and 2021. But in those seasons, he finished inside the top 20 for the AL MVP. When healthy, Haniger is elite, but because of his injury concerns, I doubt he’ll land a lucrative multi-year contract. Enter Alex Anthopoulos, who loves to hand out one-year, prove-it contracts to players with injury concerns. I would love the Braves to ink Haniger to that type of a deal this offseason.

Michael Conforto

Conforto shockingly sat out all of last season because of a shoulder injury. Assuming he’s healthy and ready to play, he’s another candidate that could be up for a one-year contract with a high AAV. With a career .824 OPS and two seasons with 29+ homers under his belt, Conforto would be a tremendous addition to the Braves outfield.

Photo: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

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