It’s highly unlikely the Braves are 100% done this offseason, even after the acquisition of Sean Murphy essentially gutted their farm system. There are months before the start of the 2023 campaign, and on paper, the team still has holes at shortstop and left field. Alex Anthopoulos has shown confidence in what the Braves have internally at shortstop — Vaughn Grissom and Orlando Arcia — but he might have a trick up his sleeve, despite Dansby Swanson‘s market growing larger by the day. I don’t think the Braves are finished this winter; however, here is a grade for what they’ve done so far.
- Sean Murphy
- Joe Jiménez
- Nick Anderson
- Sam Hilliard
- Dennis Santana
- Kolby Allard
- William Contreras
- Jake Odorizzi
- Justyn-Henry Malloy
- Kyle Muller
- Freddy Tarnok
- Royber Salinas
- Dylan Spain
Sean Murphy is the prize of the offseason thus far, and it’s not particularly close. He’s an upgrade at catcher over William Contreras, but the question is, by how much? Was it worth what the Braves gave up in return? And what does this mean for Travis d’Arnaud? Both Murphy and d’Arnaud are superb defensive backstops, but most of their value stems from them being behind the plate. They are well-above-average offensive players for the position, but as designated hitters… not so much. It will be intriguing to see how the Braves go about utilizing their catching tandem, but the new rules will favor teams that have elite defensive backstops.
The other pieces in the trade for Murphy were expendable. Muller was in line to compete for the final spot in the rotation, but had he not won the role, he would likely have run out of options in 2023, and the Braves would have had a difficult decision to make regarding his future. It was going to be hard for Muller or Tarnok to end up in the starting rotation in Atlanta. Salinas is a lottery ticket that proved to be a strikeout maestro in the lower levels of the minors, but it was going to be a while before he ever contributed at the major-league level. All three of them were expendable, but the Braves gutted what was left of their farm system to add to what was already a position of strength instead of filling in their holes at shortstop or left field.
The second most significant acquisition of the offseason was Joe Jiménez — a relief pitcher that was sent over from the Tigers for Justyn-Henry Malloy. I’m a huge fan of Malloy. He’s a Georgia Tech grad that was the highest rated position prospect in the Braves system before he was traded. With that being said, that’s not saying too much. The Braves entered the offseason with one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Malloy likely would have been a mid-level guy in an organization with better prospects, so I don’t hate the idea of moving him for a relief arm like Jiménez, who has nasty swing-and-miss stuff. The track record worries me, but if Jiménez continues to trend in the right direction, this will look like a bargain for the Braves.
The rest of Atlanta’s acquisitions and departures were minor. Nick Anderson is someone to watch out for in the bullpen. He’s battled through injuries and didn’t even pitch in 2022, but when healthy, he’s proven to be a stud, owning a 2.89 career ERA over 87.1 innings. That’s a flier that could pay substantial dividends next season. Hilliard adds to the organization’s outfield depth, and Dennis Santana could see some relief work if injuries arise. Kolby Allard was also added in the trade that sent Jake Odorizzi to Texas. The former first-round pick of the Braves could find himself in the rotation if he figures things out. He’s still just 25 years old.
Overall Grade: D
I’m not going to bash the acquisition of Sean Murphy, even if the trade wasn’t my cup of tea because of the holes on the roster. But overall, this offseason has been extremely underwhelming by the Braves. We’ve watched most of the stars come off the board, and many of them are entering the NL East. Now, Dansby Swanson is one of the few All-Star caliber players remaining on the market, and it looks like the Braves are on the outside looking in when it comes to his negotiations. There is still plenty of time for Alex Anthopoulos to make moves, but if the offseason ended today, I’m not sure how Braves fans could be satisfied. There are obvious positions where this team could upgrade, and they’ve yet to spend a million dollars on a player in free agency. That’s frustrating when considering all the talk from Liberty Media about the Braves having plenty of money to spend.
Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire
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