This offseason keeps getting better.
The Braves made another splash on Wednesday afternoon, adding a veteran lefty to their rotation in Cole Hamels – first reported by Jeff Passan.
Left-hander Cole Hamels and the Atlanta Braves are in agreement on a one-year, $18 million deal, sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2019
I don’t know about y’all, but I love the speed of this offseason far more than last year’s.
Don’t get me wrong; Donaldson was everything I could have imagined. But as you know, the Braves signed Donaldson and McCann on one day in November and, well, nothing but silence for the remainder of the offseason.
This year? Not so much.
Anthopoulus is not hesitating to make moves and add help where he sees fit. The Braves already have properly addressed their bullpen, filled out their catching rotation and now have added a much-needed starting pitcher.
Winter Meetings have not even arrived, and AA’s nearly filled every need.
But he’s not done yet.
Atlanta has spent $98.75 million this offseason, signing three relievers, two catchers, and Nick Markakis, along with Cole Hamels. This more than triples what the Braves spent last offseason on Donaldson, McCann, and Markakis.
I don’t hear too many birds chirping about Liberty Media now, and let’s hope that continues.
Given ownership’s track record in past offseasons and AA’s tendency to be on the stingy side of acquisitions, it would be safe to assume that all transactions, especially significant free-agent signings, are pretty much over and done. After all, their payroll already sits close to where it was at the end of last year, and they haven’t even filled out their bench yet.
But according to Passan, Anthopoulos may still have a few moves up his sleeve.
Gah! Forgot about Travis d'Arnaud, too. Make that $98.75M for seven players, with d'Arnaud's deal for two years as well. https://t.co/wVusuIjUcv
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2019
Let’s play make believe for a minute.
Imagine the payroll for 2020 is capped at $160M. Everything considered; it is around $132M after the Hamels signing.
Where does that leave Atlanta in the way of options?
Rosenthal mentioned that even with the spree AA has been on, the Braves are not out of the running for a certain arm out of the Bay.
Hamels taking physical today. Per source, #Braves’ decision to sign him doesn’t take them out of Bumgarner, but reflects market for him and others might exceed their comfort level. ATL signed Hamels for $18M, right around qualifying offer. Can give him actual QO at end of season.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2019
Perhaps the Braves cast the line out and reel in MadBum for 3/80. That’s $26M per year, setting Atlanta just a shade under $159M. He’s not exactly the same “ace” he was a few years back, but his postseason success is going to attract many suitors, driving up the price tag.
That leaves third base as a platoon option between Riley/Camargo, unless AA works the trade market. Maybe for Kris Bryant? Maybe Escobar/Ray from Arizona? That’s another topic for another day, though.
Of course, this could also mean the Braves are ready to push their chips in on Josh Donaldson. Bob Nightengale reports that Atlanta is still pursuing their star third baseman.
The Atlanta #Braves decided they weren't comfortable with free-agent starter Madison Bumgarner's pricetag likely exceeding $100 million, so they turned to Cole Hamels. Now, they would love to bring back third baseman Josh Donaldson.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 4, 2019
Given the hefty contract the Reds gave to Mike Moustakas, you have to imagine Josh Donaldson is going to receive a substantial amount more than that. Three years for $80 million is probably the minimum he will accept. In this hypothetical situation, that still puts the Braves under their set $160 million cap.
Signing Donaldson would probably signal the end of the offseason, except for a few minor tweaks, unless there is a trade. But if I told you the Braves would re-sign Donaldson, Markakis, Martin and O’Day, while adding the likes of Will Smith, Travis d’Arnaud, and Cole Hames, we’d all agree that it was a damn fantastic offseason.
The 2019 Winter Meetings take place December 8th-12th in San Diego. Expect some more moves to be made by AA once all the festivities kick-off, and of course, plenty of more rumors. In the meantime, enjoy the new acquisition and drop a comment on who you believe could be the Braves’ next target.