Where Do We Go From Here? The Free Agent Market (by smitty)

In Year Two of a rebuilding project and only a few known building blocks, it is going to be hard to convince a superstar free agent to come to town. Unfortunately, that is where the Bravos find themselves this winter. In years past, the Braves have been able to convince some guys to take a few dollars less to wear the tomahawk, but we also had an all world rotation and were in the playoffs every year.

The Braves do have a top five pick that would be protected, if I understand the draft correctly. So why not be aggressive going after a marquee name?

What Do We Have:

Freddie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons will anchor first and short. Nick Markakis will occupy one of the corner outfield slots (most likely right). Hector Olivera will get a majority of the time at third. Cameron Maybin will either be traded or will start out in center (or left if Mallex Smith makes it up). Jace Peterson will get the first crack at second. Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn will have some role or be moved.

Our rotation is set to be Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, Matt Wisler, Manny Banuelos, Mike Foltynewicz and/or Mike Minor.

The bullpen will have Jason Grilli, Shae Simmons, Arodys Vizcaino and a mix/match of some other low cost guys.

I imagine a few of the guys listed above will be moved at some point this winter. I decided to not really dive into bench players because they will probably be filled by guys already listed, or low cost farm hands.

With what I have listed and consulting our good friend Ryan C’s article at Tomahawk Take it appears we will have around $30 million to spend after arbitration. (That is assuming our payroll is around $107-110 million.)

What Do We Need/What Will We Do:

Personally I would look at four areas. 1) A corner outfielder with pop 2) A starting pitcher 3) A catcher 4) bullpen arms.

I know we are loaded with young pitching, so going after a starter may seem illogical on the surface. However, pulling in an ace or a good number two or three would allow some of these guys to develop more, take pressure off of them and the bullpen, or make them trade bait for a bat.

If the Braves are serious about contending in 2017, one would figure the majority of the 2017 team would need to be in place by the end of 2016.

I went to get my haircut and just missed Coppy getting a straight shave. Here is what my barber was told.


The Braves have been pretty clear they are not in on Jason Heyward or Justin Upton. Yoenis Cespedes would be a great addition, but I have a feeling the Mets are going all in on him. Alex Gordon is probably going to ask for six years $110 million. Gerardo Parra will probably ask for half of that.

Smitty’s Barber Says: The Braves look to upgrade via trade.

Starting Pitching

David Price, Johnny Cueto and Zack Greinke will all be on the market and will probably be out of our price range. The Braves will kick the tires on these guys just to see what happens.

Smitty’s Barber Says: They Braves sign either Yovani Gallardo, Jeff Samardzija or Mike Leake


The Braves are going to either bring back AJ Pierzynski, sign Matt Wieters or make a trade for a young catcher.

Smitty’s Barber Says: The Braves sign Wieters.


With Grilli and Simmons coming off an injury and Vizcaino as the early favorite to close, the key roles will be setup men. Most of the roles will be filled by a displaced starter or a farm hand.

Smitty’s Barber Says: The Braves mostly stand pat, but do bring in Franklin Morales or Shawn Kelley.

Of course, all of this could change with a single trade or an outstanding winter ball performance.

As I mentioned above, if the Braves are serious about 2017, we will see a majority of that team on the field by 2016 season’s end. I think we will make some splashes in the free agent market, but the majority of our moves may be by trade.

114 thoughts on “Where Do We Go From Here? The Free Agent Market (by smitty)”

  1. From previous thread…


    Well, the last guy the Yanks wanted to face on Tuesday was Dallas Keuchel.

    In 3 starts vs. NYY this year, he was 3-0 with 0 runs allowed in 22 IP. He gave up 12 H, 2 BB & had 28 Ks.

    He looks like a Williamsburg hipster, but his results are more Sandy Koufax.

  2. They’re saving for Kevin Maitan. They had no more to spend this year without going into penalty-land, which would have prevented them from signing Maitan.

  3. JC’ed from previous thread, because I’m proud of it:

    “April, 2017”
    Here Begynneth the Season of the Wins of the Braves
    Whan him yclept Hector with his crekkes soote
    The droghte of runnes hath perced to the roote
    And snerred every bolle in swich webbynge
    The which the corner hotte hath shewn swich ebbynge;
    Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete wynde
    Inspired hath in every stich-and-skynne
    The tendre bende and the layte breek,
    And heete hygh to wende ful wel eek,
    And digne Umpyres maken melodye
    Of “Bolle” whan oure smyter sheweth wel eye
    (So priketh hem the Braves in hir corages);
    Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages;
    And actuants-free to seken straunge strondes
    To ferne “Atlanta”, kowthe in sondry londes;
    And specially from every shires ende
    Of Georgia to Whyte Flyghte heeth they wende,
    The bolle pleyers alderbest for to seke
    That hem hath torturen, whan that they were seeke.

  4. @blazon,

    I had to marinate on it for a while. Despite its obvious baseball ties, “Whan that April” never quite got me going–I couldn’t figure out what on Earth I wanted April to do in a baseball context. Once I changed it to a baseball player, I could build the poem around the verbs. And ending the drought (from the original) fit in too perfectly with our needing to score some damn runs.

    After the first four lines, it didn’t flow out of me exactly, but I could treat the whole thing like a fun puzzle, flipping between finding Middle English words of Chaucer’s and coining some of my own.

    What a good exercise. I’m glad you came up with it.

  5. @8

    glad you persevered…it was pretty apparent early on people were having problems with it, this one in particular…still, always fun trying something new and having to ‘baseball’ it.


    your barber, must be hard to keep up with everything he feeds you…could he be a plant? the FO might have figured the best way to throw us off the track of what was actually going on was to toss him a bone or two.

    smitty’s barber
    what clubhouse gossip does he harbor?
    he’d be the first to know
    Josh Dobbs, a baseball, can he throw?

  6. @9, We all know you’ll watch anyway. What’s at stake is whether you’ll like what you watch

  7. It would be easier to stomach the rebuilding process if we truly knew what we got for guys like Cody Martin and Garrett Fulenchek instead of just some abstract amount of international money. Who is Kevin Maitan, Cristian Pache, and Derian Cruz? They seem to be highly-regarded, but good gosh, they’re 15-16 years old. Their ETAs in MLB can’t be before their 20th birthday, which means they’re 4-5 years away. I can see how that can be disheartening to people who are frustrated with the rebuilding. Is it right thing for the organization long-term? Sure, but how long-term can you possibly be when you have seats to sell?

    However, I am extremely confident that we will have one of the best farm systems in baseball for the next few to several years, and a reasonable person would have had to be very concerned about the long-term health of the organization this time last year.

  8. I think the health of the farm system matters a lot less when there’s good players on the major league club.

    As to how good our system really is…time will tell. We have don’t have much of note that’s less than 2 years out from contributing meaningfully to the major league club. Most of the pieces in the firesale are mid-level prospects.

    There’s *massive* PR spin about how our system is much improved, but reality is that most of the arms are recovering from some sort of injury, and we have no bats above Rome. Smith and Albies are not going to save us from the power outage.

  9. Listening to the Toronto broadcast of today’s game…it’s hard not to laugh at the Outerwear commercial. The announcer repeats “outerwear” a lot. Followed by a “Visit Kissimmee” spot. Good stuff. And no Home Depot/Suntrust music for the win!

  10. Rangers v. Stroman: Advantage Rangers
    Donaldson v. Hamels: Advantage Donaldson

    Donaldson walks up to the section of “In the Air of the Night” beginning with the drum break.

  11. @16

    Completely agreed.

    I’d like our rebuild a lot more if we had the equivalents of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Kyle Schwarber down on the farm, and one can hope that Hart’s logic is sound that pitching is the universally tradeable currency. His logic was that you can’t always trade a catcher or a second baseman to one particular club to get the player you want, but you can always trade pitching.

    I do also think injuries are being taken into consideration when a player is being evaluated as a prospect. IIRC, Max Fried was the Padres’ #1 prospect before he got injured, but now he’s only 6th on our list.

  12. Clearly, the Braves are hoping that folks will go on pilgrimages.


    I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make my prologue about the farm system, aka “the tendre croppes,” or maybe it’s the tendre Coppy that Schuerholz has inspired in every holt and heeth.

  13. @20, I do think some of the 16 year olds are likely to pan out. The comps for the Maitan kid are ridiculous…Miguel Cabrera, Juan Gonzalez…are you kidding me? Sign me up. I’ll take two.

    But like you pointed out, the wait is going to be the hard part. Andruw Jones played for us at 19 or 20 I guess, which is about the earliest you’d expect any of these guys to get a call up.

  14. Smitty,

    How do you get to a 77 mill or so payroll with on the books contracts on Cot’s plus almost assured arb increases? I came out around 88 (I allowed 15 or all arbs, and Shelby and Minor will get 3 or more each, could be 10 added together).

    If they hold the line at 107 – 110, then we can only avoid another sub 500 season if they trade last year’s bounty “en masse.”

    I also don’t think (a) the team you have constructed is a 500 team or (b) that team with the same payroll limit with what is in our system now is anywhere close to playoff competitive in 17.

    So, the Johns need to go to 120, MINIMUM and really need to crank it up to 140. at 140, they can actually put a winning team together that COULD be good enough to win the World Series in 17 if the young pitchers start really coming on, Albies is good and let’s us trade Jace, etc.

  15. I think the only real “find a veteran reliever” need is for a bona fide set up lefty that commands lefties and is o.k. against righties. Somebody like Venters used to be (sob, sob, sob). Even a middle class man’s 2012 or so Venters would be a major improvement.

    Otherwise, with all of the upper minors right handed arms and returning hurt guys, we should be able to cobble the pen together.

  16. Are the Astros the team of destiny? I know they don’t play the game the right way, but so far so good…

  17. the Cardinal Fan
    was there ever so noxious a clan
    smugly content
    no love and they wonder where it all went.

    Tony La Russa
    what would you say is the use’a
    your tactical guile
    just watch your druggies go hit one a mile.

  18. Has anyone read anything about how roles and responsibilities have changed for what seems to be the new hierarchy for a major league baseball front office? I see that many general managers are being promoted to “executive vice President” and assistant general managers are becoming general managers.

    At the very least, I would like to know that Frank Wren is not above a general manager in the Red Sox front office, but it appears that way.

  19. Kershaw out and behind 3/0..7th..David Wright the big hit, Cespedes shows he’s not at the same level.

  20. The thing about the changing structure of baseball front offices seems like a topic worth discussing to me. Looking at it one way gives some credence to this idea of team executives finding ways to avoid accountability for their teams’ performances.

    The timing of Schuerholz’s elevation always seemed a bit obvious to me. The Streak had ended in a manner that left the Braves and Schuerholz looking exposed and even desperate — the Teixeira trade, etc. Schuerholz also had bailed on the Royals just as soon as times got tough, and I can’t imagine he felt like he would’ve deserved to have been tossed out on his ass after such prolonged success with the Braves.

    It seems somewhat reasonable to me for GMs to want to shield themselves from the eventual consequences of their win-now moves/whatever sort of cyclicality comes with the winner’s curse on the FA market/the sheer randomness of baseball. But we may be seeing the dark side of that lack of accountability play out with the Braves right now, as some have pointed out.

    The changing structure of front offices is also about finding artificial ways to keep teams of executives together; you’re not going to lose your staff if you promote yourself first into a type of super-GM and then promote your underlings, pay them more, give them more prestige, etc. That’s plainly what’s at play here with us and with plenty of other teams too.

    Anyhow, it’ll be interesting to see who’ll be the first “president of baseball ops” to get sacked, or if it will ever happen at all. It ain’t looking like it’ll be Theo or Andrew Friedman anytime soon. Maybe it really will be Hart.

  21. straight-out-of-hollywood-the-new-guy-outpitches-the-ace

    Sounds more impressive than it actually is, considering Kershaw’s career postseason ERA of five.

  22. @41, I think the position was created so that the president of baseball operations keeps his job when you sack the GM.

  23. I think that’s a very good question. To me, strictly an opinion, I think the answer is a whole lot more than what it takes to fire a GM. Quantifying that is going to be dependent on the presidents relationship with ownership. As you noted, it seems by design to be a way of creating a semi permanent executive class not unlike the CEO – executive board relationship that exists in industry outside of sports already.

  24. Surely not the same guy!

    Trevor Cahill
    we believed we had signed the correct waybill!
    in the post season?
    there seemed to be no evidence of rhyme or reason.

    but there was…1/2/3 sit down amazin’

  25. 99/99/100(S0)-2nd batter faced, no contact

    Noah Syndergaard
    It is apparent that he throws rather haard
    so they swing earlier
    which causes their departure with a visage surlier.

    Cespedes homers.
    Deporto homers.

    LA cooking, done soon.Too old. But Seagar looks good.

  26. I say this as a fan, but I disagree with the sentiment that the Braves are loaded with young pitching. If we mean that all the available starters they have are under 30, then yeah young is true. But they are all unproven, injured or inconsistent.

    The Mets are loaded with young pitching. The Braves have a handful of lottery tickets.

  27. Can’t take strike three there.

    @52 A lot of potential, but really no top prospects from the trades. A lot more depth though.

    Magic looks good.

  28. Yeonis Cespedes
    it is quite evident with abs as blessed as these
    power is off the scale
    intriguingly they say he’ll shortly be for sale.

    Dodgers looking a little less old, Syndergaard aging? 7th 2/1

  29. @54

    I think the Braves could make and win the Wild Card game next year, but yeah, I don’t see a playoff series win for a little while.

  30. I have no idea how he was ruled safe. They had to have discussed him not touching the base. I’d love to see the same thing happen in New York. It’d be something to watch.

  31. When you clean a catcher, there isn’t usually a debate on whether he tagged you. Zero chance they make that call in New York. Zero.

  32. Terrible playcalling and awful performance by Matt Ryan are ruining what should be an easy Falcons victory.

  33. I would say that Chase Utley didn’t so much slide as much as he “slide tackled,” except, that, he didn’t so much slide, as he “tackled.”

  34. I like the fact that we won today with Matt Ryan being the Redskins’ best player. Nice to avoid the “trap game” loss. Hoping for big things for the Falcons now that college football season is over…

  35. Greetings from San Diego…

    Who knew that the Athens squad would be off the rails by game 6, while the ATL bunch would still be skipping thru raindrops?

    I say it all the time & I don’t what this says about me, but I can watch an execution, but not the kind of knee injury that Chubb endured.

  36. Bartolo Colon
    if there was some way he could have known
    would have caught it
    Chase, unimpressed, insisting Tejada still bought it.

  37. @ 78

    the double play
    it was never intended to end this way
    a broken fibula
    the sort of thing mandated by Caligula.

    translate please.

  38. @80, It was a reference to Matthew D, the obnoxious, scrappy, and pretty dirty player who injured two Atlanta Hawks during the Eastern Conference finals against Cleveland back in June.

  39. @81
    2 game ban…but after that, yes…unfortunately by the time it’s over so will the series likely be…if the Dodgers prevail and their opponents hit Chase, now that would be something.

    and please tell those of us who didn’t watch, did Josh throw on Saturday?

    @82 thanks.

  40. I am not so keen on penalizing Utley on that slide.

    Is there a SPECIFIC prohibition on a “late slide?” Aside from that, what he did is done over and over. He WAS able to reach the base and from my vantage point did appear to touch it on the way by. The late slide meant he WOULD overslide if he didn’t hit Tejada somehow. The base alone would not have stopped that. And, he did lose contact with the base almost immediately.

    If uniformly across the game they want to adjust the rules at 2B, then I am fine with that. But the rules need to be changed and addressed first. Also, the penalty should not be based on “the effect.” If Tejada had not been hurt and if the double play had been completed, should Utley be suspended? If you agree with that, then maybe suspend him. ANY contact play at second COULD have caused this injury. ANY contact play can prevent the double play.

  41. @83

    Josh Dobbs?

    Yes, he threw a bunch. He is a guy that needs to get in a rhythm or he is terrible. He threw enough to keep Georgia honest and opened up some running lanes for himself.

    Once Tennessee was down 21 they were forced to open it up some and be aggressive. It may have been the best thing that could have happened to the Vols.

    I don’t think anyone is going to mistake Dobbs for Aaron Rodgers when it comes to throwing the ball, but when he is confident and in a rhythm he is dangerous.

  42. @ 85
    well, smitty, that is surely progress from last week or so when you said he was either afraid to throw it or looked as though he was. That inspired the poet in me – something inherently comical in that thought. Go Vols!

  43. @84

    cliff,you are surely not saying that because he slid late he had to hit Tejada to stop himself oversliding the base and that’s ok?

  44. Well it looks like Utley asked for more time to prepare an appeal and will play tonight. Mattingly has been signalling he’ll start, natch. I’m betting on a beanball and a good old fashioned rhubarb.

  45. Blazon at 88,

    If the rules do not prescribe how late somebody can begin to go down (and I do not THINK those rules go there), then he (a) has the right to slide late, (b) has the right to go into contact with someone on or at the base, (c) provided he is close enough to reach the bag when he slides.

    There is no way somebody coming into the base like Utley can assume anything other than that he will be out. That is true for anyone “breaking up the double play.” If the rules says “however, if in the judgment of the official, the runner began his slide / deceleration so late that he could not reasonably believe that he could hold the base so as to remain ‘safe,’ then the runner should be declared out.” then absolutely Utley violated the rules.

    I have seen MANY ball players do what Utley did and never seen a one get suspended. This is an attempt to say “oh, we look bad because this is violent, so we need to punish the violent one.” There were 6 ML officials on the field and one in the replay booth. If they didn’t eject Utley, then if Torre is going to suspend Utley, Torre should fire the 7 officials.

    This is (unless I am mistaken about what the rule says) an ex post facto law, legal proceeding, and punishment.

  46. IF we had a right fielder with Neck’s skills and more range, Alex Gordon would be a good “get.” Can Gordon play right field? If so, could we get him at a price we can afford for a time period with which we’d be comfortable?

  47. @90 Being “close enough to reach the bag when he slides” is no where in the rule. That is how it has traditionally been interpreted, but this episode demonstrates the fault in that interpretation because Utley quite clearly aimed to “intentionally interfere with a fielder,” which is in the rule, while making zero effort to be safe (it’s not merely that he failed to “hold the base;” rather, he never touched it at all, nor made any apparent effort to do so). If that’s not a plain violation of the rule, I don’t know what is.

  48. 1. I have not seen a “from home plate” replay, but the “from left field replay” shows Utley touching the base with his left hand.

    2. If baseball wants to ban this, it can. It probably would be a better game. But don’t change the interpretation IN A POST SEASON SERIES.

    3. Also, this is like a DA charging a suspect for behavior in the presence of 7 police officers who thought they ought to let it go. Like a majority of those officials did not see it as a problem sufficient to throw Utley out, but Torre puts him out for two POST SEASON games. And yes, if it is postseason, you can’t let little things create ejections WITHOUT WARNING. For example, if umpires pre warn about a bean ball war before the next game in that series, then call it tight. But don’t wait and let a switch flip and say “wait, we need to look at this differently.”

    4. By the way, when the catcher blocking the plate rules changed, all of the commentators said “what about at other bases.” I think MLB even said “not for now, we are satisfied.”

  49. @97

    Haha. That picture will never die.

    This is a weird one. When it’s cheating or pot or something, they’re just hurting the team. When you ballon from 170 LBs to 215 in a year, I wonder if the Will Grier we saw was unsustainable. Are we going to see the arm strength when he gets back?

  50. When do the Braves get to have a Carlos Correa again?

    Two homers today for the rookie. Royalty on the ropes. Coup in progress.

  51. @99

    My guess is no, otherwise why would he do it? But I guess we’ll see.

    Just once BTW, I would like for one of these guys (any sport, I’m not picky) to not trot out the completely BS “it’s an over-the-counter thing I got at GNC but I didn’t bother to get it approved” line. You don’t have to admit what you took, just don’t say anything about it and move on.

  52. @101

    I think there are plenty of times where athletes take that approach, but by nature of how silence works, you just don’t hear about it on the news.

  53. Lorenzo Cain is a damn star. Base hit to drive in a run for the Royals. Now the Star Boys have to play some defense. Crowns on all the bases, no one out, and the bullpen looks creaky.

  54. Royals with 4 in the eighth to tie it up! Men on the corners and STILL nobody out. Rally rally rally.

  55. AJP may be our MVP but he has other skills too.

    Tell me you didn’t learn something new about baseball, new insights from what he’s saying today.

    What a game!

  56. I’d put Utley on first, and pray for a ground ball. I’d instruct my shortstop to pin him between the eyes with an 89 mph heater from about 12 feet.

  57. Jojo Reyes
    in his address from the Cooperstown dais
    asked why am I here?
    God knows said a Brave as he wiped off a tear.

  58. Wieters — if we passed on McCann, why would we sign Wieters, who is the same age (29) that McCann was when he left. And McCann didn’t have Scott Boras as an agent. Sure, Wieters has shown flashes of greatness, and could move along a young staff, but being a NL catcher not 2 years from TJ surgery (he’s played in 101 games in 2 years) means there’s a lot to question about his health, or enough not to merit the McCann-like payday Boras will be gunning for.

    Bullpen – Don’t forget about Chris Withrow coming back. From the comments made by the FO about him after the trade that sent him here, I’d think he could very well see time as the closer should Vizcaino inevitably struggle and he gets to be 100% healthy. His ceiling is higher than Vizcaino’s, if you ask me. I see ATL using some of the money saved from not bringing Minor back to getting 2 reliable vet arms, one of the which might be pricey, like a Tony Sipp. Can’t see them paying decently for Joakim Soria or the like, especially when we have a few power guys coming back from injury that could be a closer (Grilli, Shae Simmons).

    Cespedes – when you combine his pricetag with the idea that ATL would lose its 2nd rd pick (1st rd is protected) – I don’t see them even considering it, unless NYM completely bows out on an offer, which likely won’t happen. If this FO is about acting “opportunistically”, I can see a possible deal from someone and maybe an aggressive bid on someone like Greinke, who could make sense on a 5-year deal, and has stated before that he would be interested playing for ATL, does not play solely for money (being a competitor), and is from the area (Orlando). Somehow a don’t see a return to LAD, LAA in the books or much excitement from NYY, BOS for him. PHI could afford him, but they’re rebuilding. CHC could be possible for him, though they might be set on Price/Cueto. When you consider that an “ace” won’t be available in the free agent class of 2017. ATL has wanted an ace and they could get it – at a decent price in comparison to the market (of Price/Cueto who are younger) – and possibly deal out of their pitching depth for OF/C help.

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