- Shohei Ohtani
- Cody Bellinger
- Matt Chapman
- Blake Snell
- Josh Hader
- Julio Urias
- Aaron Nola
- Eduardo Rodriguez
- Lucas Giolito
- Jordan Montgomery
I don’t necessarily agree with these rankings, but that’s not what this piece is about. I want to discuss which of these top guys could potentially be targeted by the Braves in free agency. Atlanta doesn’t have a lot of needs, but they should have plenty of money to spend in the coming years, and the best franchises aren’t fond of sitting on their hands during the offseason.
Bellinger is having a resurgent year for the Cubs, hitting .320 with 20 homers and an OPS+ of 140. He also plays fantastic defense in the outfield. The one-year, prove-it contract he signed to go to Chicago is going to end up paying major dividends, as he’ll cash in big this upcoming offseason. The Braves don’t necessarily need to upgrade in left field. Eddie Rosario has a $9 million option that probably should be picked up, but if they wanted to sure up their outfield, Bellinger is the best option on the market. However, his inconsistencies leading up to this season are worrisome. If Bellinger regresses, whoever hands him the bag this offseason could be left with an abysmal contract in the coming years.
The Braves already have one of the best bullpens in baseball, but adding Hader to this group would make it an unstoppable force. He’s amid the best season of his career, posting a silly 0.79 ERA over 48 appearances for the Padres, and is set to cash in. For a team like the Braves that loves to jump on teams early with their offense, putting together a historically great bullpen sounds very appealing, even if Hader will be expensive.
The Tigers tried to trade Rodriguez to the Dodgers at the trade deadline, but he nixed the deal by using his no-trade clause. Now, he seems destined for free agency. Rodriguez is also putting together the best season of his career, boasting a 3.21 ERA. However, he seems like a more realistic option than some of the other top candidates on this list. I don’t see the Braves shelling out top dollar on the market for an ace, especially with Max Fried‘s free agency looming.
Montgomery has quietly become one of the most consistent starters in the game. He’s not going to blow guys away with his stuff, but he’s an ultra reliable option in the middle of the rotation. Montgomery also shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg in free agency. With Charlie Morton potentially deciding to hang it up after this season, the Braves could do a lot worse than replacing him with Montgomery for the next few years.
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