Evan Gattis

I’m on a long-running group text thread with about 12 of my friends, and one schtick I’ve been on for the past two summers is to post “EVAN GATTIS” in all caps whenever I’m watching or listening to a Braves game and El Oso puts one in the seats. It started because I was bragging about finding waiver-wire fantasy gold early in 2013, and it continued because Evan Gattis is fun as hell to root for.

It’s nice to have players who are fun to root for, and Gattis leads the returning Braves in that quality, so naturally he’s next up on the trading block. I don’t anticipate we’ll be writing him up in this space next winter, because the Braves are moving Gattis from catcher to left field this offseason. As a catcher, he’s basically a league average defender; as a left fielder, he’s a statue. But the point of Gattis in left field isn’t to make the 2015 Braves an optimized construction, it’s to get his bat in the lineup as they showcase him for AL teams who could use a DH.

Though he doesn’t have a lot of major league miles on him due to his early-twenties hiatus from baseball, Gattis still has some wear and tear, and he might not be long for catching. He spent almost a month between late June and late July last year on the DL with a bulging thoracic disk in his back, and he was never quite right after that. Pre-DL, El Oso hit 16 home runs at a .900 OPS; post-DL, six homers at a .672 OPS. He was mostly shut down in September after 28 plate appearances with a .148/.178/.259 slash line, only coming back to play in the final series of the year. Back injuries are no fun, and catching is probably not the way to manage them, so I get it.

We’ve seen the Gattis-in-left-field routine before, and it ended in tragicomedy at Chavez Ravine in the 2013 NLDS. But his defensive mobility issues aside, it’s a more or less ideal spot to try to keep him healthy and hope he regains his first-half power stroke. Plus the backup options at this point are Jose Constanza and all the career journeymen the Braves signed offseason, so why not?

Outside my office, there is a sign for Gattis insurance. The Braves don't have much of this.
Sign outside my office. The Braves don’t have much of this.

His offensive skillset is that of the prototypical Frank Wren masher; he doesn’t really get on base, but when he does, he tends to clear them. His career line is .263/.317/.493, forged over two seasons where he hit basically that line, give or take. He swings hard, and often does run into them. Watching him hit is fun, the way watching monster trucks crush cars and occasionally flip themselves out of commission is fun.

That monster truck ethos has pretty much come to an end in Atlanta, though, so I anticipate Gattis will be moved if and when he showcases his bat and his health. (Probably for a B+ pitching prospect rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, because you can never have enough of those.) Most of the projection systems have El Oso hitting something approximating his career line or a little worse; in an era where random joes can get outs but a .800 OPS is a rarity, I hope the Braves and their trading partners remain cognizant of his value.

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You’ll always have an Atlanta home on my windowsill, Mr. White Bear.

61 thoughts on “Evan Gattis”

  1. What’s the over/under on most Braves struck out in a game by either Scherzer or Strasburg this year?

    I’ll answer my own question and say 15.

  2. @2
    It’s not that hard to understand. The post was written prior to last week as a player analysis (see last caption).

  3. So as a Braves fan I’m glad to see the Nationals make what I think is a minor blunder with Scherzer.

    I side with Rob Neyer in thinking it doesn’t actually make them a better team in 2015.

    And then here are two pitching lines from the past three years:

    Pitcher A: 622 innings, 3.24 ERA, 4.04 k/bb
    Pitcher B: 608 innings, 2.95 ERA, 4.42 k/bb

    A is Scherzer, age 30. B is Zimmermann, age 28. I wouldn’t say definitely either way who I think will be a better pitcher, but there’s a chance the Nationals could have extended Zimmermann for significantly less money over, say, 7 years and have him pitch at 34 years old for the final year.

    Scherzer’s really good, but Zimmermann’s right there with him. I’m hoping they hamstrung themselves a little when they didn’t have too.

  4. I agree that Scherzer by himself may not significantly improve the Nats but they’ll probably end up trading Zimmerman or Fister and that will likely net something that will improve them. Amazing how that works when you invest in the team.

  5. Okay, I’m working on the 2016 Bizarro Braves off-season. There’s a tab at the bottom of the page for the new sheet.

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1YuyUmasjGt486ireo6Y5h2s2OURqWMchbjIC1L2m_aQ/edit?usp=sharing

    That said, the 2016 off-season is extremely dependent on how the 2015 season plays out. I envision three scenarios.

    A.) The Bizarro Braves clearly are not contending. Sometime between mid-June and mid-July we go into full-on seller mode, turning Heyward and J. Upton–and maybe Minor and Gattis, into the best prospects we can.
    B.) The Braves contend the entire way and either miss the playoffs entirely or fail to make it beyond the divisional round. This means the team is probably not going to go big-money on 2016, preferring to look toward the future. Heyward and Justin turn down QO’s and leave for free agency without the Braves even considering a long-term deal with them.
    C.) The Braves contend, make the playoffs, and at least advance as far as winning a game or two in the NLCS. Playoff money isn’t nothing, and the Braves are more likely to try to come to terms with a good free agent, whether one of our expensive outfielders or someone else.

    If Option A happens, the path is clear. We grab whatever impact prospects we can that project to contribute by 2017. There will be fewer of them than we have now, which gives us a lot less of a cushion when, inevitably, some of them don’t work out. (The real life Braves really did bring in a great haul this off-season. I’m as pleased as punch with the system.) Fortunately, this will have been about 100 days into the season, so we can still have fun with Napoleon jokes.

    If Options B or C happen, it’s a lot trickier. I haven’t started fleshing out the roster yet, but the 2016 tab in the document above shows what I expect the baseline to look like if the Braves don’t make any moves and everyone eligible for free agency becomes a free agent. This team still has BJ and Chris Johnson pulling down significant salaries (thanks, Napoleon), loses 2 impact bats, and sees Wood and Gattis start to make money. Payroll obligations sit at about $68,000,000. At minimum we need 2 everyday players who can hit, 2 starting pitchers, a bench infielder, and 2 relievers, at least one of whom needs to throw with his left arm.

    So that’s how things stand. Stay tuned for wishcasting.

  6. How the heck has Kimbrel not been traded yet? Team-friendly contract and completely useless on a 80-win club. Get him out of here and let Vizcaino take over.

    If we’re DOOOOOOOOMED next year, I’d love to see our prospect list even more revamped.

  7. @11 I suspect that the Braves will look at trading Kimbrel mid-season. Maybe that’s when we’ll finally pick up a high-ceiling position player prospect for LF (or 3B).

  8. @13 – I believe Rio Ruiz is the 3B ‘of the future,’ he of the .823 OPS and 50 XBH as a 20 year old at High A.

  9. @15

    Yeah, it’s pretty rough. And then letting Travaris Robinson go was a setback as well. But we’ve made some great coaching hires and guys like Randy Shannon will get players from fertile areas of the state. I don’t think we’ll stay at #94, but we definitely won’t have a top 25 class.

    The good thing is that Muschamp did actually leave the program with a lot of talent. Same situation as Zook. An established coach can come in and take the existing talent and make a winner. McElwain is probably not Urban Meyer, but he can probably coach a heck of a lot better than Coach Boom. After all, it still is Florida, and guys will always want to come play here.

  10. If the Gators land Ivey and/or Cowart, that class will climb quickly. Auburn is pushing hard now that Muschamp and T Rob are on board.

  11. So Dodgers trying to add a late inning reliever, would you do Kimbrel for Joc Pederson?

    Just trying to get a sense of what people think Kimbrel is worth.

  12. What a delightfully morose post today.

    Joc Pederson’s their starting CF, but even if he weren’t, six cost-controlled years of a likely solid ML position player is maybe what I’d ask for for Kimbrel, but not what I’d expect to get.

  13. @17

    I don’t think we’ll get Byron Cowart at this point, but I think we will get Ivey. Cowart, apparently, is a big Boom guy. He can have him.

  14. I would do Pederson for Kimbrel in a heartbeat. I don’t think that even the Dodgers would however.

  15. Giants just signed Aoki.

    On another note, I don’t comment here much, and am mostly ignored when I do, but I need to say something. Edward, for crying out loud, who gives a crap about some “bizarro” team? This reminds me of someone asking, “Do you want to know what I’d do if I won the lottery?” and proceeding to drone on for an hour about something that doesn’t freaking matter. After reading multiple threads and posts with how much Heyward was your favoritest Brave ever, this exercise of yours is just silly. Can we please live in the here and now?

  16. The purpose of the bizarro team was to answer the opinion that there was no other option but to firesale the team. Edward’s goal was to propose a scenario where they could not unload and still build for the future. While it’s pure crazy talk and hogwash, Edward is entitled to a bizarro world, especially if Seinfeld is.

  17. Well, I guess it’s good that they have an Internet connection in the psych ward for fantasies such as this to play out online.

  18. I think it’s useful to think about alternative futures in which the team goes a different direction. The plan until, like, three months ago was to compete for a title from 2013-15, then retrench once Heyward and JUpton hit free agency. Then 2014 didn’t go according to plan, so 2015 was abruptly scratched.

    Is the core of the team that contended in 2013 and crashed in 2014 a viable contender in 2015? That’s the question of this offseason. The current FO says no, but should we agree with them?

    As proprietor of the Evan Gattis mourning thread, I encourage this skepticism of a front office I don’t trust. There were multiple long-term strategies to pick from. Whether they chose the right one will define their tenure. Might as well articulate the possibilities.

  19. Another aspect of this mess is that 2014 wasn’t the first time the team crashed in September. The on field management has to accept a portion of the blame also. So far Wren has taken the hit, but Fredi can’t be too far behind.

  20. Maybe we are keeping Fredi only because we know we are not going to compete in 2015. May as well wait until we have a good enough team before we hire a better manager to manage.

  21. 1557 votes cast on Talking Chop for the Braves winning 75 or more games this season. I suspect there will be quite a lot of crying in baseball blogs.

  22. Okay, okay, okay. So I know we’re “not” trading Craig Kimbrel, according to the Johns. But what might Milwaukee give up for him?

  23. 75 wins for the Braves isn’t that hard to fathom. If you think the combo of CF, 3B, SS, and 2B can be just below average instead of below replacement level offensively, we should win more than 70.

  24. Feel like we need a little pick me up:

    Joe Sheehan @joe_sheehan
    After the #Nationals are done paying Max Scherzer, the #Mets will still owe Bobby Bonilla about $8 million.

  25. Reports are flying around the interwebs that Colby Rasmus is in Houston to finalize a deal to sign with the Astros – terms are unclear, though Rotoworld is saying 1 year / $8M. Frankly (even though I don’t particularly love Rasmus) I would have liked the Braves to make that deal… if he sucks, oh well, no big loss. If he’s good, you’ve got a nice trade chip.

  26. I don’t care if they add Rasmus or Gomes. The team is not good enough to compete regardless. I don’t think I had experience such a depressing offseason since I became a Braves fan in 1990.

  27. Considering that the 1990 Braves came into the season with a cohort of promising young players (Justice, Gant, Smoltz, Glavine) and added Bobby Cox as manager halfway through the season… I’d say this offseason is actually way more depressing.

  28. We still have a cohort of young players….Kimbrel, Freeman, Simmons, Wood, Teheran. It’s just a shame that the vets around them suck. I think the Braves goal this offseason was to make sure that 2016 and beyond wasn’t another 80’s type decade. The roster heading into the offseason wasn’t good enough to compete, it’s pretty simple

  29. With all of the pace-of-game proposals, does anyone know how much shorter games would be if all of the proposals were implemented? I’m a huge fan of baseball (as evidenced by my presence on Braves Journal since my dreadful middle school years), but as I get older, I would love to be able to enjoy more baseball in a shorter amount of time. Often times, after my day completes, I turn it on around the 4th inning and watch until around the 8th inning while I do other things. I’d love to be able to watch the majority of the game while still doing a few other things in the house in about 2 hours or so. That way I can fully enjoy and appreciate the product, but I don’t have to feel like I’m wasting a huge chunk of my day.

    What are y’all’s thoughts? I’m also repeating for emphasis that I would like to know if there’s been a study about implementing all pace-of-game proposals.

  30. @54 I think the Arizona Fall League saw about 10 minutes shaved off from 2013 to 2014 with its experimental rules. That’s probably about the best that can be expected.

    I think pace of play and length of games are really two distinct, but obviously related, issues. The general view that I see among the commentariat isn’t so much that games are too long, but that they are long and very little is happening to boot, i.e. lots of strikeouts, pitching changes, and very little scoring.

    So I wouldn’t necessarily expect games to be shortened all that much, especially as they’re looking at further expanding replay, and pitcher usage continues to evolve with ever greater emphasis on relievers. I doubt, in other words, they’ll ever get it back to the 2 and a half hours it was in the early 80’s.

    More importantly, I think, is that they can try to offset some of the strategic changes (more relievers, more pitches per PA, etc.) that have lengthened games by improving the rhythm to keep it interesting.

  31. Steve Cornell
    ‏@BoiseBrave
    Looks like about 42% of Braves base cards in 2015 Topps Series 1 feature players no longer on the team. #Yay #collect #thehobby

  32. #40 #41 – Braves Journal classics. Thanks for that. I miss Jon K. I could never defend the B1G like he attempted to do back then. Of course this year it would be a lot easier.

    So its come down to acquiring Jonny Gomes, huh? Yay! Ok, sarcasm aside, the idea is good except that Almonte just plain sucks.

  33. Bizarro Braves Scenario A: We’re straight up terrible in 2015.

    For reasons I’ll reiterate once I’m done with the whole exercise, I think this is the least likely of the 3 scenarios (see above @9).

    I don’t exactly know what goes wrong, but it’s something like: due to injury or bad pitching we only have 2 or 3 effective starting pitchers; and/or we lose a major position player or two to long-term injury (see: 2014 Rangers); and the bench does not improve at all; and/or Andrelton Simmons and Chris Johnson continue to be two of the very worst offensive players in the game. And Dan Uggla buys a $13 million blimp shaped like his forearm and hovers over the stadium during games.

    So we’re out and we know it and we’re sellers at the trade deadline looking to rebuild for 2017. Fortunately, Georgia gun laws are loose enough that we can bring down the blimp without much trouble once we realize no one is watching any of the games.

    The real life Braves, selling off Heyward, Upton, Gattis, La Stella, Relievers, and Kubitza, picked up one legitimate major league pitcher and 11 good prospects. It’s not unlikely that we move Minor or Kimbrel by the deadline this year, nor Jim Johnson or Grilli; let’s say the real life Braves have 14 new prospects by July 31, as well as Shelby Miller.

    The Bizarro Braves did not get Shelby Miller in the off-season, and they will not get anything resembling a Shelby Miller at the deadline. They did move Kubitza and La Stella and Kimbrel, so they’ve got 4 new prospects before the season start. At the deadline, it’s almost certain that they’ll move Heyward, Upton, and at least two of Gattis, Minor, Floyd, and Harang.

    Their deadline values are probably not as good as their off-season values. We’ll downgrade Heyward from a major leaguer and a prospect to 2 prospects; Upton from 4 prospects to 2 prospects; Gattis from 3 prospects to 2; Minor holds at 2 prospects conservatively; Floyd and Harang are worth one apiece.

    I’d say that nets us anywhere between 5 and 8 shiny new prospects to add to the 4 we’ve already had.

    Comparison at end of 2015
    Real Life Braves: +13 shiny prospects and +1 relatively inexpensive Shelby Miller and the freedom to sign a good free agent who can help us in 2017 and beyond without losing a draft pick, if we want to. (Payroll sits at ~$61-$65 million depending on which of Kimbrel or Minor are moved.)

    Bizarro Braves: +9 to +12 shiny prospects and the freedom to sign a good free agent who can help us in 2017 and beyond without losing a draft pick, if we want to. (The 2016 payroll would be sitting at something like $56-64 million depending on which of Minor or Gattis or both move.)

    So for fielding a totally non-competitive team and then rebuilding, the real life Braves are probably a year closer to competing than the Bizarro Braves, with being competitive by 2017 looking somewhat possible for the Braves and less likely, though not impossible, for the Bizarro squad.

    I repeat, I believe this is the least likely way the Bizarro Braves season would play out. What I have just described is the worst-case scenario.

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