Grading each of the Braves offseason acquisitions thus far

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The Braves offseason is by no means over. They are still right in the thick of things for Josh Donaldson, and even if they don’t re-sign the Bringer of Rain, I expect at least one more splash from Alex Anthopoulos before we get into spring training, whether it comes via trade or free agency. The Braves have shown much more of a willingness to spend this offseason, already ponying up nearly $100 million worth in contracts. But they’ve also been connected to some superstar talents – like Anthony Rendon and Nolan Arenado – suggesting that $100 million may only be the beginning.

We will cross that bridge when we get there, however. For now, Anthopoulos has been a busy man this offseason, leading to a multitude of additions.


Will Smith: 3 years, $40 million

Travis d’Arnaud: 2 years, $16 million

Cole Hamels: 1 year, $18 million

Chris Martin: 2 years, $14 million

Nick Markakis: 1 year, $4 million

Tyler Flowers: 1 year, $4 million

Darren O’Day: 1 year, $2.25 million

Will Smith

Deal: 3 years, $40 million – fourth-year club option worth $13 million, $1 million buyout

The Braves wasted no time jumping into the pool of free agents, making the first splash of the offseason by signing Will Smith to a three-year contract with an option in year four. By all accounts, the new Fresh Prince of Atlanta was the best reliever on the market, recording a 2.2 bWAR, 34 saves, and a 2.76 ERA for the Giants in 2019. He’s a high-character guy that should make the back-end of the Braves’ bullpen one of the most feared in the majors for years to come. For now, Mark Melancon is the closer, but it should shock nobody if Smith eventually takes over and never looks back. If Atlanta’s bullpen was a weapon at the end of last year, it’s looking like an Apache Helicopter going into 2020.

Grade: A

Travis d’Arnaud

Deal: 2 years, $16 million

You might know Travis from his brother Chase, who played for the Braves for a while. You might also recognize him from his long tenure with the New York Mets to begin his career. Well, Travis is the better of the two and is coming off a career-year of sorts for the Rays.

After bouncing around from the Mets to the Dodgers, d’Arnaud finally found a starting spot with the Rays. He was the primary backstop, helping engineer Tampa Bay’s improbable run to the playoffs, which almost ended in an upset of the Houston Astros in the NLDS. D’Arnaud hit 16 homers with a .782 OPS for the Rays in just 92 games.

Following the decision to bring Tyler Flowers back for another year, the Braves still needed another catching option. With the free-agent market being underwhelming, d’Arnaud might have been their best choice without risking too much. He’s no superstar, but he should be an upgrade over what Brian McCann was for the Braves last year and did not require a long-term investment.

Grade: B

Cole Hamels

Deal: 1 year, $18 million

I like the Hamels deal in the sense that he did not require the multi-year contract that Dallas Keuchel is waiting for. I also think he’s a slight upgrade from Keuchel, but how much of one? Probably just a little bit, if at all. So a lot of questions remain regarding Atlanta’s starting rotation. If Mike Soroka can replicate his 2019 and Max Fried can take a step forward, things will probably be just fine. But if either of those players regresses significantly, or Foltynewicz loses his mind as he did a year ago, the Braves could find themselves in a tough spot if they do not add to their rotation, which looks unlikely at this point.

Grade: C+

Chris Martin

Deal: 2 years, $14 million

It blew my mind how Alex Anthopoulos refused to address the bullpen last offseason, despite it being the worst part of the team in 2018. It almost cost the Braves too, and he didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. By re-signing Chris Martin, following the acquisition of Will Smith, the Braves are set up to have a dominant bullpen from top to bottom. Martin’s ERA may not have been great in Atlanta, but his peripherals were off the charts. He doesn’t walk batters, strikes out a ton, and keeps the ball in the yard. Oh, and the Braves can use him as early as the fifth or sixth inning on some nights.

Grade: B-

Nick Markakis

Deal: 1 year, $4 million

Say what you want about Nick Markakis, but you can do a lot worse than signing him to a one-year deal for $4 million. Even at 36, he is still a model of consistency, and while the Braves would like to upgrade in their outfield, having Kakes is an excellent backup plan. Whether he’s coming off the bench or a full-time starter, he’s worth the $4 million.

Grade: C

Tyler Flowers

Deal: 1 year, $4 million

I don’t think there are any die-hard Tyler Flowers fans amongst Braves Country. He was terrible with the stick for most of last season and even worse behind the plate defensively. However, it’s understandable why the Braves did not want to go into the offseason without a backstop. Although I probably would have preferred Francisco Cervelli if not for him being an injury risk.

Grade: C-

Darren O’Day

Deal: 1 year, $2.75 million – club option in year two for $3.5 million

I wasn’t sure if Darren O’Day was going to have any interest in playing another year of baseball. At 37, after a couple of injury-marred seasons, it would have been understandable if he decided to hang it up. But since he wants to continue playing, I’m thrilled the Braves brought him back. O’Day pitched sparingly at the end of the season and in the playoffs last year. For his career, he is one of the best set-up men in baseball. But the Braves don’t need him to be all that with their bullpen being so loaded, which is going to be so refreshing to watch after these past two seasons.

Grade: B


Grade: A-

As of today, I don’t know how you could not be pleased with the Braves offseason. They’ve already spent triple what they did last year and look like they are planning on spending more. If no more moves are made, the excitement will wane, and this grade will drop substantially. But right now, Anthopoulos has turned the bullpen into a powerhouse, improved the rotation, and addressed the situation at catcher. All that is left for him to do is get Josh Donaldson to put pen to paper, and this offseason may go down in the history books when we look back five years down the road.




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