This is a crucial offseason for Alex Anthopoulos. With the Braves seemingly ahead of schedule, there’s likely to be a move involving some prospects, and the major league rotation picture is likely to become more clear. It’s critical for Atlanta to make the right transactions if this team is going to keep moving forward and improving. The World Series window is officially open.
Address The Need At Catcher
- As I mentioned in a previous article, I would prefer for the Braves to pick up a controllable defensive-minded catcher. Tucker Barnhart is my first choice, he’s got an above average bat for a backstop and calls an excellent game behind the plate.
- Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos are excellent free agent options on the open market.
- Personally, I don’t want the Braves to re-sign Flowers or Suzuki. They’ve done great work for us, but I think it’s time for the club to go in a different direction.
- I think the second catcher spot should go to Alex Jackson. He’s been pushed to AAA despite his struggles, and it’s clear his upside will get him a chance in the majors. However, Anthopoulos should counter this move by signing a low-cost veteran backstop and stashing him in AAA in case Jackson’s struggles re-surface in the bigs. AJ Ellis or old friend Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be good, cheap options.
- As reported by Mark Bowman, the front office had serious interest in JT Realmuto at the deadline. Expect them to make a push for him in the winter. He’d cost a nice prospect haul, but I think he’d be worth the sticker price. I’d offer Miami a package centered around Gohara and Allard. Two controllable left-handed starters should draw Jeter’s attention.
Sign Craig Kimbrel
- Bring him home. This is a good match for both parties. The Braves are in need of a closer, they have the money, and they’re familiar with Kimbrel.
- He’s not having his best season, which is laughable. He’s still posted a 2.49 ERA with a 13.2 K/9 and 33 saves. That’s a down year for this guy.
Re-Sign Markakis or Sign a Suitable Replacement
- A lot of fans are against re-signing Markakis, which I think is absolutely ridiculous. Dustin Peterson isn’t ready and may not ever be, and it would be foolish to let Markakis walk with the World Series window opening. He is a crucial member of this club.
- However, if the front office lets Nick go, there are a handful of replacements available on the market (albeit not as good as Markakis)
- Carlos Gonzalez, Bryce Harper, AJ Pollock, and Michael Brantley headline a thin class. All of these guys except for Harper have had numerous injury troubles throughout their careers. Harper will want stupid money. The decision to bring Markakis back is an obvious one.
Push for another top tier relief pitcher
- Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, Cody Allen, David Robertson, Brad Zeigler, Kelvin Hererra, Adam Ottavino, Jeurys Familia, Dan Jennings, Justin Wilson, and Jerry Blevins are a handful of bullpen arms available.
- Atlanta can turn their bullpen into a major strength by acquiring one of these guys to use as a bridge to Kimbrel. As mentioned before, Atlanta is a club with a good amount of money to spend thanks to the Matt Kemp trade this offseason. Assuming Atlanta turns down Brandon McCarthy’s $8 million team option (they will), they’ll be in the bottom 5 in the majors in payroll. This gives them plenty of wiggle room to sign one of these guys, which means they should also…
Lock up Ozzie Albies
- Ozzie has proven himself to be an electric player, a guy who is always hustling and has impressive power to be 5’8 and 21 years old. The sky is the limit for Albies, and giving him a contract now would go a long way in re-signing him when he won’t be so cheap. Atlanta took the same route with Freddie Freeman, and it has paid dividends.
Kick The Tires on the Starting Pitcher Market
- Julio Teheran has been inconsistent to put it lightly. He’s pushing a 9 run ERA in this first inning. Mike Foltynewicz is blossoming, and Sean Newcomb is finally looking the part of a franchise piece. Anibal Sanchez has had a nice season, but he’s not a part of the future. Max Fried and Kevin Gausman have to earn their stripes. Mike Soroka will be back soon.
- Looking at the market, the best starter available is Patrick Corbin. Dallas Keuchel is available, but you have to think he’ll re-up with Houston to increase his value after being injured and having a mediocre 2018 season. Former Brave Charlie Morton is a sneaky good name available from Houston as well.
- The names available are pretty thin, but if Anthopoulos wants to use some of our top prospects as trade capital or move Teheran, Corbin or Morton would make an excellent addition sandwiched between Folty and Newcomb.
Make A Decision Regarding Dansby Swanson
- It’s no secret Dansby has been struggling at the place since his hot start to the season. With Austin Riley knocking at the door and sure to be in the majors by 2019, how does Atlanta find playing time for him, Dansby and Camargo?
- Camargo is the superior player. He plays great defense, is a switch hitter, and his significant power. I’m not a huge proponent of trading Dansby, but it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t net a significant player and free up the infield clutter. The decision is coming sooner rather than later.
Trade Julio Teheran
- Teheran’s inconsistencies have been maddening. He’s on a reasonable contract, but for a team on the rise, he can’t be depended on as a #1 starter. He can still command a decent haul, and he can be moved to a number of teams looking for a controllable starter in exchange for an elite relief arm or catcher waiting in the wings. We’ll have more on this later this week.
- Mike Foltynewicz is ready to take over as the alpha of this rotation. Sean Newcomb is a strong #2, and Mike Soroka will be ready to roll next season. Kevin Gausman will be holding down the 4th or 5th spot. Fried, Wright, Toussaint, Allard, Gohara, Weigel, and Wilson will all be looking to seize one of the final two rotation spots. The Braves are likely to make a splash move with a few of these arms, but moving Teheran can help clear up this picture.