With the Dodgers acquiring Mookie Betts yesterday evening, it is fair to wonder if the Braves need to make a countermove to come out of the National League. When Josh Donaldson signed with the Twins, Atlanta responded by signing Marcell Ozuna to a one year deal. However, the Dodgers have put themselves in a league of their own by adding Betts and David Price, and no free agent left on the market is going to change that for Atlanta.
If the Braves do decide to make another move in hopes of holding their own, it may wait until midseason. They currently have a talented duo in Austin Riley and Johan Camargo who are capable of handling the third base vacancy, and the team will likely want to see what they have to offer before jumping the gun. As things stand, it seems there is little urgency for the Braves to make another move, given Jon Heyman’s report that the team is yet to even discuss the most available player on the market — Kris Bryant:
As for Kris Bryant rumors out there, there is to this point no talk between the Cubs and Braves about the star 3B
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 5, 2020
With that being said, the demand for Bryant has been delayed due to his grievance with the MLB, which to no surprise, went in the league’s favor. So in reality, he has only been available for a week, and the Betts trade likely held up potential deals. So while Braves fans hungry to make a countermove may not be thrilled with this report, it is not out of the question that discussions could begin — and perhaps soon — now that we know whoever trades for Bryant will have him for two seasons instead of one.
So it could be one of these two things, if not both. They wanted to exercise caution in the length of Bryant’s deal, and now they likely want to do the same to evaluate their internal options. Without question, though, if the Riley and Camargo experiment is a flop, the Braves will be the favorites to land Bryant or Nolan Arenado, assuming they are still with their respective teams. The biggest obstacle would be if the Cubs look to move Bryant before the season, which could easily happen. Like the Red Sox did by trading Betts, Chicago will try to get under the luxury tax and bring in as many young assets as possible for the services of Bryant, who is due a tad over $18 million this season in arbitration.
The Braves may also find themselves under pressure to keep Bryant away from a division rival. Per Bob Nightengale, the Nationals and Phillies have expressed interest in the Cubs third baseman:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 5, 2020
The good news is that baseball is not won on paper. However, for a team that is heavily favored to win the NL West for an eighth straight time, the Dodgers, at least for this season, seem like the team to beat in baseball. However, considering Los Angeles has no championships to show for it, the Braves probably won’t overreact and jeopardize a potential decade of excellence for a one year boost. The reality is that Atlanta does not have deep pockets like the Dodgers do to pull off a trade that brings in as much salary as Betts and Price. However, a move will have to be made at some point before the trade deadline to give the Braves the best shot of any National League team to take Los Angeles down in October. Bryant does not seem likely as of now, but things change quickly, and there are rarely players as talented as Bryant, Arenado, or Francisco Lindor available via trade.