The outfield market is thinning, and the Braves don’t seem to have much cash to spend, based on how they’ve spent just over $3 million on free agents this offseason. Alex Anthopoulos has already stated that the team is still working on some things, but to not expect anything major before the start of the season. If Atlanta went into April with their current roster, they’d probably be just fine, but “just fine” shouldn’t be the goal. Championship teams consist of the best 26 players, and the Braves could use some depth additions, particularly to their outfield.
The primary options to fill in as the starters in left field are the same as last season — Marcell Ozuna and Eddie Rosario. The hope is that one or both of them can bounce back from their abysmal 2022 campaigns, but Alex Anthopoulos did add some insurance options in case they can’t — albeit, from the Dollar Store.
The most notable free agent signing of the offseason has been Jordan Luplow, who I would call Adam Duvall-lite. He has some pop and can crush left-handed pitching, but he’s never going to challenge the 40 home run mark like Duvall and be an everyday guy. At his best, he’s a platoon option against southpaws, which is all the Braves should be expecting from a player earning just a hair over $1 million.
It’s probable that one of Ozuna or Rosario experiences some positive regression in 2023, but even if one of them does, left field remains a weak spot for the Braves, and the outlook for DH doesn’t appear much better. At the very least, Alex Anthopoulos should be looking for another option as insurance, and there are two players he should have his eyes on.
I’ve been pounding my fist all offseason for Adam Duvall to return, and I’m not sure why this hasn’t happened yet, unless Duvall isn’t fully healthy or is looking for a multi-year contract. The two sides are familiar with each other, the Braves have a glaring need that could be filled completely if Duvall plays anything like he did in 2021, and he shouldn’t cost very much. Duvall is a Gold Glove caliber defender that can potentially hit 40 bombs in a season; what’re we waiting on here? Obviously, we don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes, but if he signs a cheap deal elsewhere, I have no idea what Alex Anthopoulos is thinking.
McCutchen’s best days are well behind him. The five-time All-Star and former NL MVP hasn’t recorded over 2.0 fWAR since 2017 with the Pirates. His defense is well below average, but what the Braves currently have occupying left field is even worse. McCutchen’s also sacrificed average to hit for more power. He’s two years removed from a 27 home run campaign with the Phillies, which is four shy of his career high. I would probably rather have Duvall than McCutchen at this point in their respective careers, but Cutch is a fantastic locker room guy and probably has a higher floor than Duvall. Either way, I would feel much more confident about the Braves left field situation with one of them in the fold.
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