It seems nearly every season Alex Anthopoulos scoops up a guy right before the season begins. Last season, he was able to bring in Matt Joyce and Josh Tomlin late in Spring Training. The year prior, it was Peter Bourjos and Ryan Flaherty who joined the team as late remaining free agents.
Sure, Anthopoulos “hit” better on his 2019 guys, and there are certainly fewer needs across the roster. Regardless, he has picked up guys who have played big roles on the Major-League roster late in camp the past two years, so history suggests it may happen again.
There is little doubt the Atlanta GM is leaving no stone unturned trying to upgrade the roster. There is a strong chance if he were to bring someone else in, they could be a late cut from another team in camp. Unfortunately, it is hard to read the minds of opposing general managers to come up with such a list. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some free agents who may be able to provide the Braves a boost, even if it is a small one.
I love Charlie Culberson as much as the next guy, and he is a lot more versatile than Gennett. With that being said, the Braves have two quality backup outfielders who are former All-Stars, so they really just need another infield bat.
Gennett had an awful year, but this could work to Atlanta’s advantage, as, at this point, he may be able to be had on a minor-league contract. In 2018, Gennett was an All-Star, hitting .310 with 23 homers and 92 RBI. It is not as if this was some big outlier season either, as he hit .295 with 27 homers and 97 RBI the season before. Why he fell off a cliff, I cannot tell you. But I can tell you that he is worth a flyer. Rounding out the bench with Gennett would be a luxury.
Yes, I know. The Braves gave up on Venters because he was no longer effective last season. Then, he had to undergo shoulder surgery while with the Nationals. It is simply hard to dismiss a recovery from the 2018 N.L. Comeback Player of the Year. I am not sure when he will be fully recovered, or whether he will even attempt to pitch again after a multitude of procedures throughout his career. I would be hesitant to give him a roster spot. Stashing him in the minors, however, is a low-risk, high-reward move for a team that is looking for answers at lefty reliever outside of Will Smith.
The Braves may want nothing to do with Vizcaino after he toughed out an injury that he probably should not have and left them with a thin bullpen. Hopefully, there are no hard feelings, as the Braves should have addressed the ‘pen far earlier rather than patching it up in July of last summer. If Vizcaino can be had on a minor-league deal or a minimum contract after recovering from shoulder surgery, he presents a ton of upside for little risk. This time last year he was the closer. They have brought him back before. Could they try again?
If the Braves decide they are not pleased with the internal options as far as the lefty relievers are concerned, Cedeno could be worth issuing a minor league pact. He has a career 3.65 ERA.
Sipp definitely has the highest upside of all the lefties on this list. He had a bit of a down year with the Nationals, but in 2018 with Houston, he had a 1.86 ERA in 54 appearances. Sipp has been hit or miss his entire career, but at his best, he is dominant and is certainly worthy of a flyer from Atlanta.
The Braves need some organizational depth at catcher. They need a catcher who they can stash in Triple-A in case of injury. I am not sure Martin would be comfortable with this, as he has not played in a minor league contest in over a decade. With that being said, this may be the only way to extend his career, as he is still yet to be signed and has hit .221 or worse the past three seasons. If they can get Martin to bite, he presents a decent third catcher among the remaining free agents out there.