We are approaching the halfway point in the season, and the Braves appear to be hitting their stride, going 21-6 in June. The NL East race will be a fun one to keep up with as Atlanta aims for their fifth consecutive division title. Regardless, at least two teams from the division will likely make the postseason, and the division winner could even clinch a first-round bye.
I love the position the Braves are in right now, and I think they have a fantastic chance of repeating as champions, which is one of the most difficult things to do in sports. The last MLB team to do so was the 2000 Yankees. But as we know, general managers are always thinking three, four, and five steps ahead, especially as the trade deadline approaches, so I thought it would be a good time to look into what’s to come this winter. This begins a series where I’ll be going over impending free agents that could impact the Braves, starting with their own players that will likely be testing the open market this offseason.
- Charlie Morton (Team Option)
- Will Smith (Team Option)
- Kenley Jansen
- Jesse Chavez
- Luke Jackson
- Darren O’Day
The Braves have two critical decisions to make regarding Charlie Morton and Will Smith, but as of right now, I don’t see either of them returning next season. The Smith signing has been underwhelming for three years now. Thankfully, he had a fantastic postseason run last year, or it would be up there with Marcell Ozuna as far as Alex Anthopoulos’ worst signings go. Morton was fantastic last season, and he seems to be turning it around this year, but for $20 million, I don’t see the Braves keeping him unless he has a tremendous second half to the season. Morton could also choose to retire.
Jansen hasn’t had the best start to his Braves tenure and will test unrestricted free agency this offseason. I still think he’s one of the better closers in the league, but there’s really no telling if he will be retained. Chavez and O’Day are reaching the end of their careers, although I wouldn’t mind bringing Chavez back for another season. There’s something about him that’s different when he’s pitching in a Braves uniform. Jackson is coming off Tommy John surgery and is the perfect candidate to take a short-term deal. I think there will be mutual interest in him returning to Atlanta next season and beyond.
On the 40-man roster, these are the only three position players set to test free agency, which shows how great of a position the Braves are in for the future. Obviously, the elephant in the room is Dansby Swanson. I think the Braves will do everything in their power to bring him back, but like Freddie Freeman, who shares the same agency, there is a chance Swanson prices himself out of Atlanta with the way he’s been playing. Duvall is another key free agent set to test the open market. The Braves might bring him back, but it’s more likely another club will sign him to a multi-year contract.
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