The Braves did not issue a qualifying offer to Nick Markakis. This does not mean he will not be back, as $17.9 million would have been a hefty price tag for the veteran outfielder. Instead, Markakis joins the field of free agents and remains an option for the Braves. However, with the team’s window to spend increased cash wide open, the Braves may try to upgrade the position via free agency or trade, as many spots in the lineup are already manned by young, cost-controlled players. Let’s take a look at other routes the Braves could go in free agency:
Brantley enjoyed a return to form for the Indians in 2018 after only being able to play 101 games total the two seasons prior. He continued to show he is a dominant contact hitter in this league as he slashed .309 with 17 homers and 76 RBI. What would the Braves get in Brantley? A very similar hitter to Nick Markakis with marginally fresher legs. Brantley is a career .295 hitter and has been an All-Star the past two seasons. A two or three-year deal would be a great option for the Braves.
The Braves have had rumored interest in Pollock in the past, but that was when John Coppolella was running the team. Pollock is a very talented player that would make the Braves a better team. However, it is hard to dish out the type of money it will take to land him when the guy has played in over 140 games just one time in his seven pro seasons.
Could the trend of former Orioles becoming Braves continue? Alex Anthoplous saw how great of a player Adam Jones was in the AL East for years. He may no longer be the guy he was during his prime, but he can still help a team win as an everyday player. Lost in the mess that was the Baltimore Orioles 2018 season, Jones still put up a nice season, hitting .281 with 15 homers and 63 RBI. However, he had the lowest OPS (.732) that he has posted in nearly a decade. It seems just about every player that has left Baltimore lately has benefitted from a change of scenery, and the 33-year old may be a nice buy-low option.
Another buy-low option. Carlos Gonzalez is not the guy he was when he hit 40 homers in 2015. In fact, that year was merely an outlier on his career statistics and he benefitted from having Coors Field as his home park. However, he is still a solid ballplayer who could be more of a last resort option for the Braves in free agency. Gonzalez should not fetch too big of a check.
Like Adam Jones, McCutchen is a great player who is regressing as he ages, but can still help a team. The Braves could do worse than bringing in McCutchen on a one or two year deal, as his price tag has never been lower.
It is unlikely that the Braves go this route. However, the team technically could have the funds to offer Harper, and Alex Anthopolous is known to make big moves out of thin air. Harper is hated by most Atlanta fans (including myself) but it is no secret that signing him would make the team World Series contenders for years to come. Could the Braves be a dark horse team for Harper? Out of all the guys on this list, he is really the only guy trending upwards, but his price tag may force the Braves to go the trade route to address their outfield vacancy.
Acuna Matata shirts ON SALE! Gets yours today!