Winter Meetings are in full throttle, capped off by last night’s mega-deal that saw Gerrit Cole go to the Yankees for nine years and $324 million. And while the Braves have yet to make another significant addition – they did announce the re-signing of Rafael Ortega yesterday – there have been several rumors that paint the picture of their plan.
We will start with third base because that is the one gaping hole remaining on Atlanta’s roster.
Josh Donaldson, who will be 34 next season, is looking for a four-year deal that should pay him around $100 million. If Braves fans were hoping for a hometown discount, they are not getting one, and his price tag could get out of control considering the market. At least five teams are looking for a third baseman – Angels, Rangers, Braves, Phillies, and Nationals – but there are only two free-agent third basemen worth a damn – Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson. Whoever loses out on Rendon will likely pivot to Donaldson as their only hope, which could end up in a massive overpay, especially if an AL team gets involved knowing that he can DH later in his career.
As a result, Alex Anthopoulos is evaluating all of his options, which included checking in on Rendon – according to Jon Heyman. But let’s be real, Rendon isn’t coming to Atlanta. If the Braves lose out on Donaldson, their most realistic solution is relying on a platoon of Johan Camargo and Austin Riley at third base. Anthopoulos talked about this yesterday with the media, and yes, there is a real possibility this happens.
As far as the trade market goes, the Braves don’t seem too interested at the moment. They are not in talks regarding Kris Bryant or any other third baseman that we know of, for that matter. This could all be a part of Anthopoulos’ plan, but Jim Bowden reported Atlanta is telling other teams they are much more likely to fill their need at third base through free agency than via trade.
The outfield has become a hot topic recently during the Winter Meetings because it is the most obvious place to upgrade if the Braves don’t re-sign Josh Donaldson. Atlanta is focused on adding another power bat (no matter the position), and it looks like Marcell Ozuna is at the top of their list. Jon Morosi of the MLB Network reported the Braves plan to pursue the former Cardinal if things go south in their negotiations with Donaldson. Morosi also said Ozuna will be in line for a four-year contract, possibly even longer, depending on the market. We will see what comes out as the Winter Meetings continue, but I’m sure Ozuna is not the Braves’ only backup plan if their star third baseman decides to walk.
There hasn’t been much news connecting the Braves with another starting pitcher. The one name that has constantly been brought up is Madison Bumgarner. Several reports suggest Atlanta is not out on the three-time World Series champion. However, with his reported price tag at over $100 million and the Dodgers now getting involved after missing out on Gerrit Cole, I don’t see how the Braves pull off bringing MadBum to Atlanta.
For more news on the Winter Meetings plus a lot more, Harrison Coburn and I break it all down on the latest version of the SportsTalkATL Podcast. Check it out!