The Braves have not shied away from what they are looking to acquire before the start of the season. They want to add another starter, fill out their outfield with at least one more bat and patch up their bullpen from a season ago. Things have remained stunningly quiet since those statements were made, but with the calendar set to turn to January, it’s about time for many of these dominos to fall.
Here are three of our Braves’ writers final predictions for how the offseason will work itself out in Atlanta.
- Julio Teheran is finally dealt, and the Braves do not make a move for that frontline starter
My best guess is that the Braves get Julio Teheran’s money off the books by trading him for nickels on the dime, or potentially use him in a deal to bring in a bigger contract for a Zack Greinke type, but I am not getting my hopes up. However, I do not feel that acquiring a frontline starter is necessarily their most pressing need. Though the Braves can be a contender this season, it may be the best long-term play for the team to start the season with a rotation of Folty-Newk-Gausman-Touki-Soroka. These are five capable guys with more talent waiting in the wings. There is no use holding Soroka or Touki down in AAA or the bullpen, they are too talented. The Braves can make a move for a frontline pitcher if they feel they need a boost mid-season.
- The Braves sign a former Orioles outfielder or trade for a Padres outfielder
It seems that if the Braves go the free agency route, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are the two best options, and both would offer a much needed veteran role to this young lineup. I think both guys have one or two good seasons left in the tank and they meet the team’s price point. Adam Jones could bounce back after the whole Orioles team seemingly fell off the map due to their horrendous 2018 season.
If they go the trade route, the Padres are the best option. The Dodgers already got rid of their outfield surplus, making the Padres the ideal suitor. Options include Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes, and more.
- The Braves sign a quality reliever via free agency
Now I am not saying it is likely that the Braves sign Craig Kimbrel, but I do think his market is going to be nowhere near what he thought it would be. I am still giving the Braves an off chance here. But beyond that, several quality relievers remain available, and the Braves are going to get one. Options still on the table include Adam Ottavino, Zach Britton and David Robertson. Even with the addition of Darren O’Day, the Braves should double down and go for an elite late-inning group. Take away the late-inning mishaps from last season, and the Braves could have a real shot at 100 wins in a season given another year of development from their young core.
Since that one exciting day when the Braves grabbed both Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann, this offseason has been oddly quiet. We know the Braves have to make some moves to fill out their roster, but with each passing day, it seems less and less likely a blockbuster deal is coming. And that’s what it would have to take for the Braves to make another splash, a significant trade. As much as some fans still believe in it, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado aren’t coming to Atlanta. Neither are any of the other high-priced free agents. Where I do think the Braves will spend some of their remaining money is on the bullpen. I’m hopeful, so I’m going to say they snag Adam Ottavino. No, I don’t think the Braves are even in play for Kimbrel nor do I want them to be. That’ll probably wrap it up in free agency as they will fill their outfield spot via trade, meaning Nick Markakis’s time in Atlanta will come to an end. I think the guy they go after is Nick Castellanos of the Tigers. He’s the perfect bat to have behind Josh Donaldson and Freddie Freeman. I know his defense is terrible, but he can be replaced in critical situations by a quality defender in Adam Duvall. The Braves will also have Johan Camargo as an option in a super-utility role.
It’s hard to predict what Alex Anthopoulos will do this offseason. The man’s a wild card, but I have 100% faith in whatever he decides to do. The only thing that’s clear is that this team isn’t going to sit on their hands. I think they end up trading for Zack Greinke. The Diamondbacks will have to send a little money back, but Greinke is a legit starter who will immediately improve this club. The only wart to this deal is he’s owed $35 million when he’s 37. However, Greinke has aged like fine wine. He’s had a 3.20 ERA with 414 Strikeouts over the past two seasons while consistently giving 200 innings every year his whole career apart from a few anomalies. Madison Bumgarner is also in play. And watch out for a potential Dansby Swanson deal. I know he’s a hometown favorite, but he’s expendable with Camargo being the superior player. Personally, I’d also love to see a deal for Mitch Haniger, but his price tag is very steep.