The Braves had one of their more active offseasons in recent memory this past year, spending over $100 million in free agency. For the most part, Alex Anthopoulos stayed true to his colors, focusing on short-term veterans to fill in around the Braves ultra-talented core. Still, he was undoubtedly more willing to spend than he ever has before as the GM in Atlanta. That’s what happens when you capture back-to-back NL East titles.
11. Cole Hamels
It’s never fair to blame a GM because a free agent suffers an injury. Unless that free agent is a 36-year old pitcher with 15 years of experience under his belt and an injury history, then that is part of the inherent risk.
Cole Hamels never even made an appearance in Spring Training 1.0 because of shoulder inflammation caused by lifting weights. That was only supposed to keep him out for around a month or two, but now it’s August, and he’s still on the IL. Once Hamels started throwing again during Spring Training 2.0, he had a setback due to tricep tendinitis. Now, he finds himself on the 45-day IL and won’t be available until September 6th at the earliest. I wouldn’t be surprised if he never makes an appearance for the Braves, but they could desperately use him down the stretch, considering the current state of their rotation.
10. Jhoulys Chacin
The Braves signed Chacin just before the restart of the season. He appeared two times before being DFA’d and outrighted to Gwinnett camp, and the fact that he hasn’t received a start with all the problems the Braves have in their rotation shows what they think about him.
9. Charlie Culberson
After evaluating his options in free agency, Culberson settled for a minor league contract with a Spring Training invite. He wound up making the major league roster but has yet to have an impact. In just six at-bats, Culberson has one hit. Unfortunately for him, there’s just not much need for pinch hitters anymore with a DH in the NL.
8. Adeiny Hechavarria
After being such a crucial piece down the stretch run last season, the Braves brought back Adeiny Hechavarria to be a backup that could play elite defense all over the infield. He’s done that early this season, appearing in nine games, but his bat has come down to earth compared to last year when he had a .328 average with an OPS over 1.000 in 70 plate appearances. This season, Hechavarria is barely hitting over the Mendoza Line and has yet to record an extra-base hit.
7. Matt Adams
Another signing just before the season, Adams provided some pop from the left-side as a DH and already had two homers through the first two weeks. However, a pulled hamstring landed him on the IL after just ten games, and he will remain there for at least a couple of more weeks.
6. Will Smith
A few years from now, we could look back on this signing as a fantastic one by Alex Anthopoulos. The Braves inked Will Smith to a three-year deal with a fourth-year option — the longest and most lucrative free-agent contract handed out by Anthopoulos since he became GM in 2017. To this point, Smith’s only appeared in two games thanks to COVID-19, but at the end of the year, I have a feeling he will be much higher on this list.
5. Chris Martin
After trading Kolby Allard for Chris Martin at last year’s trade deadline, the Braves re-signed him this offseason to a two-year deal. He’s a critical piece to the bullpen, but he was recently placed on the IL with esophageal constriction. Hopefully, it’s a quick recovery, and he’s back with the Braves next week.
4. Darren O’Day
After spending over a year on the IL with the Braves, Darren O’Day finally made his Atlanta debut late last season. He performed well enough that Alex Anthopoulos gave him a one-year contract, and so far this year, he’s been incredible, posting a 1.69 ERA in 5.1 innings.
3. Marcell Ozuna
Marcell Ozuna might be the Braves MVP so far. He’s one of the few players that has been consistent all season long, hitting .257 with four homers and 11 RBIs. However, it’s worth noting his defense has fallen off a cliff over his career. Ozuna’s definitely more valuable in a DH role.
2. Travis d’Arnaud
As far as bang for your buck goes, Travis d’Arnaud has an argument to be on top of this list. The Braves signed him to just a two-year, $16 million contract this offseason, and he’s been the Braves most consistent hitter thus far. In just 10 games, he already has 2 homers and 11 RBIs while hitting .350, proving to be a considerable upgrade over Brian McCann.
1. Josh Tomlin
It took a while, but Josh Tomlin finally gave up a run yesterday against the Yankees in his eighth appearance of the season. Still, he boasts a minuscule 1.59 ERA over 11.1 innings and has pitched in nearly half of the games this year. Whatever situation Brian Snitker has needed him for, whether it be long relief or for a couple of outs at the end of a game, Tomlin has delivered. After settling for just a minor-league contract with a Spring Training invite this offseason, he’s quickly become one of the team’s most valuable players.
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