If Atlanta wants to make a move for 2016, these are the guys I want to target in free agency. If they still want to rebuild next year, then I would only pursue Alex Gordon, Mike Napoli, and Shane Victorino. Atlanta is clearing cap at this year’s trade deadline; saving $2.7 Million from the Juan Uribe/Kelly Johnson deal. If Chris Johnson and his 3 year, $23.5 Million can be moved, the Braves will have even more money to play with when Uggla is off of the books. We need bats, so no, David Price and Zack Greinke will not be on this list. (Both clients of Scott Boras, they will want way too much money for someone who plays once every 5 days). I’m also going to avoid Justin Upton, he will be traded soon and is going to want too much money. Another sorry to Braves fans; don’t expect Heyward on this list either.
1. LF Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
My Offer: 3 years, $48 million with club option for a 4th year.
Gordon (pictured above) is an elite defender who is no slouch at the plate. He’s a career .269 hitter with 132 HRs, 4 Gold Glove Awards and 3 All-Star Game appearances over his 8-year career. He would be like sticking another Markakis in Left Field if Markakis’ power returns when he fully recovers from surgery. Alex is the big prize in my eyes this offseason, plus I’d love to get a Braves jersey with my last name on it.
2. C Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles
My Offer: 2 years, $20 Million with a 3rd year player option
I know Braves fans don’t like him right now, but Matt Wieters is a Goose Creek, South Carolina native who played college baseball at Georgia Tech. That’s Braves Country, so could he be drawn back to his “hometown” team? The former Yellow Jacket is off of shoulder surgery, so he could come at a cheaper price. His career numbers: .256, 96 HRs, 2 Gold Gloves and 3 All-Star Appearances over his 6 years in the bigs. We need a backstop in the worst way, could Matt Wieters come home from Baltimore like Markakis did?
3. 2B Daniel Murphy, New York Mets
My Offer: 2 years, $17 Million
Now, you’re all probably wonder why I’m targeting a second baseman. Murph, however, can be easily slotted to third. The Mets have him playing at third while David Wright is sidelined. The 2014 All-Star is a career .288 hitter and an EXCELLENT teammate. The only knock on him is his bad rep with injuries. Murph is from Jacksonville, Florida, and Atlanta is a lot closer to home. His splits in 2015 (.272, 6 HRs) are nice, but his past injuries could garner him a little less money than most third basemen. The market for the hot corner is atrocious this year, so why not Murphy?
4. OF Shane Victorino, Los Angeles Angels
My Offer: 2 years, $11.3 Million
Victornio is on the wrong side of 30, and will be 35 before next season starts. The new Angel will be used for the sole purpose of driving his stock up in Atlanta (with a team friendly contract) to be traded for prospects at the deadline. He will provide an excellent spark off of the bench as well. He’s a career .276 hitter with 108 HRs, who is also a 2- time World Series winner and triples champion.
5. 1B/C Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox
My Offer: 1 year, $7.2 Million
Same situation as Victorino. Napoli may get better offers elsewhere, and that’s fine. If he chooses to play elsewhere, I won’t lose any sleep over it. This is the offer I would make him. Career .253 Hitter with 197 Home Runs.
6. RHP Tommy Hunter, Baltimore Orioles
My Offer: 2 years, $8 Million
Once again, I’m not looking to overpay. Hunter is a decent bullpen guy, with a 3.37 ERA for Baltimore this year. If he gets a better offer and chooses to go elsewhere, that’s fine. I feel this is a fair offer, maybe he would like to call Atlanta home. The Orioles have a ton of productive arms in their bullpen, and Hunter will likely not be a top priority for Baltimore this offseason.
Payroll ESTIMATE for 2016 with these 6 accepting my offer:
≈ $104 Million
This is including Chris Johnson, so the number would possibly be slightly lower. There are a few guys that are needing to be re-signed, so it could also be slightly higher. A decent payroll, not too big, not too gaudy. Atlanta could make it work if they feel this is the time. Go get em, boys.
Other Options I Could Live With:
Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes, Bobby Parnell, Alex Avila, John Jaso, Edwin Encarnacion, Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce, Dexter Fowler, Austin Jackson, Colby Rasmus, Drew Stubbs, Antonio Bastardo.