The Braves don’t have to swing big this offseason in free agency outside of the shortstop position. The left field situation will unfold as the winter progresses; the Braves could choose to move on from one or both of Marcell Ozuna and Eddie Rosario. The bullpen could use bolstering, and the bench will always be addressed. But it will be more about tweaks rather than wholesale changes. Here are five former Braves that could help boost one of those less significant areas of need.
Beginning his career in Atlanta, Kimbrel had a dominant five seasons with the Braves, posting an ungodly 1.43 ERA and 186 saves over that period. However, the days of Kimbrel being a lockdown closer are over. After struggling with the Dodgers this past season, Kimbrel might not have a choice but to take a lesser role with a team. What better place to revive your career than where you started? The Braves already have AJ Minter and Rasiel Iglasis under contract, so Kimbrel wouldn’t even be expected to close games. It could be a buy-low opportunity for the Braves, and perhaps Kimbrel would be willing to adjust his role at the place where it all began.
I’ve been quite outspoken about bringing Heyward back to Atlanta, and all I seem to get is pushback. I don’t understand. I’m not advocating for the Braves to trot him out to left field every day or even platoon him with Rosario, Ozuna, or whoever. I’m pushing for the Braves to bring him in for his defensive ability and veteran leadership, taking over the Guillermo Heredia role. Heyward wouldn’t be expected to contribute anything more than a late-game defensive substitution on the field. His value lies off the field, especially in this hypothetical situation with such a young Braves outfield.
Martin was absolutely dominant for the Braves in 2020 after being acquired via trade. He posted an impressive 1.00 ERA over 19 appearances during the shortened COVID season. Even more eye-popping, Martin had a 0.611 WHIP over that period. His 2021 campaign wasn’t nearly as productive, logging a 3.95 ERA in the Braves World Series run. However, he returned to his dominant self this past season. After beginning the year shaky with the Cubs, he was traded to the Dodgers and posted a 1.46 ERA and 0.527 WHIP over 26 appearances for LA. Much like Kimbrel, he’s a veteran bullpen piece familiar with the staff and wouldn’t be expected to take on any high-pressure moments.
I know he’s not like the others on this list because he was on the team last year, but I don’t care. We have talked about Duvall returning on several occasions. It should be a priority, and he’s a prove-it-deal candidate. Despite being 34 years old, the veteran is as reliable as ever in the field, earning Gold Glove honors just one year ago during the World Series run. He also blasted 38 home runs and 113 RBIs during that 2021 campaign, and though he regressed in 2022, Duvall experienced a brief resurgence before going down with that wrist injury. The club sorely missed him during the stretch run, and the Braves would be fools not to bring him back on a team-friendly, one-year deal.
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire