What To Do About Third Base?

If Opening Day were tomorrow, it seems Johan Camargo would be the starting third baseman. The Braves’ writers have both praised his potential ability to handle a full-time spot and his versatility. If I had to guess, I would think they would want to upgrade third base and use Camargo in a utility role. The best potential options:

Free Agents
Todd Frazier – He would provide a level of consistency at the position as he’s averaged a 3.4 fWAR these past 6 seasons. He’s 31, and he’s coming off a .213/.344/.428 season where he maintained his average defense and produced 3 fWAR. He’s rightly pursuing a multi-year deal, and he should probably get it, but if he slides into a 2-year commitment or even a pillow contract, the Braves might be able to afford him.

Eduardo Nunez – A 2+ fWAR player these last two years, he’d be priceless the type you wouldn’t overpay for, keep the commitment short, and would fill the position adequately. He rode a strong BABIP to a .313/.341/.460 line last year along with 24 stolen bases. He’s played for the Yankees, Twins, and Giants, and if he’s willing to come to the NL East, he could be used.

Neil Walker – Another consistent, safe option who may decide to settle for a shorter commitment. He’s only played second base consistently for his career, but as the market continues to move slowly, players like him may be open to a short-term position change to maximize their earnings. Another player with a consistently above average career (2.9 fWAR the past 4 years), he contributed a .265/.362/.439 line last year.

Eugenio Suarez – Coming off a 4.1 fWAR year, the rebuilding Reds might be looking to move him once the free agent market crystalizes. He’s under club control and would be arbitration eligible after this year, so there’s some long-term value to him for the Braves. I doubt, though, the Braves value would him as a top third baseman, so he might be a difficult player to value.

Josh Donaldson – Certainly worth listing considering the need and the Braves’ ability to offer what is necessary to get him, but he’ll be owed close to $20M next year and the Braves almost certainly don’t have it in the budget. Along with that, he’s only under contract for 2018. But, hey, Alex Anthapolous has made plenty of big trades, so it might not be fair to put anything past him.

The difference between Johan Camargo and who they could acquire to play third base full-time may not be great, but the difference between Johan Camargo and the bench player he would replace is a big difference. One would have to assume third base will work itself out in the next couple weeks.

30 thoughts on “What To Do About Third Base?”

  1. Apologies for triple header at end of previous thread. I had not been drinking, site was behaving erratically with new posts.

    Meanwhile i must repost my new limerick about an old friend…

    A pitcher awaiting his arb
    has appeared in full legal garb
    his wig though is blondish
    and he’s rather too fondish
    of sulking, a likely rhubarb.

  2. Re: the Folty Situation (headed to Arb hearing; Braves at $2.2M and Folty at $2.3M) I wouldn’t mind the Braves offering him a multi-year contract (like 2 / $5.5M or something) in order to get some cost certainty going forward. I suppose they could try to buy out all of Folty’s team control like the Rays did with Chris Archer, but… his bust potential (at least as a starting pitcher) is still pretty high. I dunno.

  3. Folty would almost certainly be worth a 2-yr/$5.5M deal. At worst, it’s tradeable or a good value in the pen. And if he turns a corner this year, there’s some significant surplus value at least for a little while.

  4. They seem to be high on Culbertson in the Camargo role, which makes me believe they are not planning to upgrade 3rd base.

    Frazier makes me nervous; I don’t think his career high .344 OBP is sustainable. More selective, but worse results doesn’t bode well. I fear another Uggla coming on.

  5. What would you be willing to give Frazier, something like 2 or 3 at 12,500,000 per? Ordinarily I’d say that’s too much but that’s probably because I’ve been conditioned that the Braves are cheap.

    Also, the oldest living MLB player made his MLB debut in 1941… He is 99. Bobby Doerr recently died and was the last living player that debuted in the 1930s.

    I think a move to the pen would be great for Folty. I don’t think we have that luxury…

  6. Brad Hand just got extended for 3 years and $19.75M. Our pitching prospects continue to increase in value as potential relievers.

    I would think Frazier signs for more than we’re even able to pay. Even using ambitious math based on the payroll numbers from last year and what the writers have speculated, I don’t think we’re getting anyone with a double digit AAV.

  7. Nunez is interesting…the .333 BABIP is .25 above his career, but doesn’t scream crazy regression. Reminds me of Prado with better wheels, but a bit worse plate discipline. The positional flexibility is nice as well in the sense you could put him in left as needed while we wait for Acuna. You’d also be able to move him around to cover for an injury or someone’s game going to hell.

    I wonder if 2 x 7.5 million with an option for the third year would be enough.

  8. Nuñez is solid as long as he doesn’t get hurt, and he’s had a lot of nagging injuries the past couple of years.

  9. Haven’t posted in forever, but I’ve been lurking.

    Alex, Thanks for everything.
    Rob, Thanks going forward.
    This off season has been glacial. We may have pitchers and catchers report with all the potential free agents still uncommitted.

  10. The free agents should converge upon one city (Montreal? Vegas? Jacksonville?) and form their own team.

  11. Old King Cole
    now a happy young soul
    ’twas a crappy old swap for he
    he called up his wife
    who said gossip is rife
    they got four would have gladly took three.

  12. I’ll respond with What NOT To Do About 3rd Base:

    Do not sign or acquire any player over 30 for more than a 1-year deal.
    Do not trade away anything of value unless you are bringing Manny Machado with an extension back in return.

  13. You must really like Austin Riley…

    AA had an interview with MLB Network Radio this morning, and had some interesting things to say about 3B (amongst many other things), so I’m going to send a post up in the morning.

  14. The smartest money for who was going to be our best third baseman by even 2020 would have been Kevin Maitan. I doubt it would have been Riley or Ruiz, and it’s probably not Juan Carlos Encarnacion at this juncture. With Maitan gone, I just don’t see how you can hitch your wagon to the internal options. I would be more willing to avoid trading for Yelich because of Cristian Pache vs. not signing someone at a market competitive deal because of Riley.

    With that said, and I think this shows the volatility of prospects, we’re probably about another 200-300 PAs at AA for Riley (giving him a total of 400-500) from saying he’s a more advanced prospect than he is now. That also highlights how hard it is for the Braves in the 2017-2018 offseason to make a long-term decision about 3B.

  15. This blog is a real treasure. It is wonderful that Mac’s spirit and vision live on. Thanks to Alex for keeping it going–and thriving–under very difficult circumstances. And thanks to Rob for agreeing to take the reins and ensuring the future.

    Unfortunately for the past few years our Braves haven’t fielded teams worthy of this blog. Perhaps that will begin to change in 2018. Pitchers and catchers report in less than a month. I know this team is still a long way from where we want them to be, but at least this spring we’ll be spared those reports of Matt Kemp reporting in the best shape of his life.

  16. @11–Joe Pos sums up the HOF case for Andruw really well. He’d have my vote, but that’s because I’m convinced he really was the best defensive center fielder of all time. He did fall off a cliff after age 30, but ten years of all time excellence ought to be enough.

    I realize that we’ll never really know who the greatest defensive center fielder is, but all advanced fielding stats agree Andruw was far and away the best of his own time. My eyeballs agree. Willie Mays and Paul Blair were great (I saw both of them), and my grandfather insisted Tris Speaker was better than either of them, but I can’t believe anyone played this crucial defensive position better than Andruw.

  17. Has there ever been a modern MLB player that went as long as Cristian Pache has gone without hitting a HR in the minors that ever turned out to be good? Plus, he is 6-2 and 185. That, IMO makes it even LESS likely. If he was 5-8 and 145 I could see.

    I doubt it.

  18. @19

    He’s saving it all up, Chief. Doesn’t want to waste it now when it means nothing. Told a friend of mine.

    Bones Senior.

  19. I have spoken with several scouts about the curious lack of extra base hits by Pache. They all point out that he pulls his left (bottom) elbow and hand down in the middle of his swing making his bat head actually follow a descending plane through the hitting zone. They also were unanimous in saying that this was an easily fixable flaw that (probably) wouldn’t affect his hit tool (60 grade!) any. If they are right — and reports are that Pache spent his time at instructionals exclusively in the indoor cage — then we could very well see a different player come spring.

    My own observation of Pache is that he has the best batspeed of any Braves product to come through Rome that I have seen, and that includes Mr Acuna.

  20. Re: 3rd Base

    Given than Moran should now be the guy sooner rather than later in Pittsburgh, you’ve got to think Freese should be readily available as a trade candidate as well.

  21. @22


    Can you think of another player who before and after his time with one particular team,the Cardinals in this instance, had pretty average numbers at the plate, nothing you would get excited about but who then appeared in the World Series with the Cards and essentially won it for them with prodigious power hitting, often at crucial moments when the Cards were at the point of losing?

    And then, triumphant, a household name for a week or two, seemed to slip back into anonymity?

  22. Pache isn’t even a prospect. Listen, we have a good mix of glove and bat in Inciarte. I wish he had more pop, but we could (and have) done worse.

    You don’t fix someone’s swing at age 20+. It is what it is by that point. Wishcast elsewhere.

  23. @23 – Bucky Dent is as probably as close as I can come, but the Red Sox trumpeting Bucky “Fucking” Dent for a quarter century precluded the subsequent slip to anonymity that I feel would’ve been more likely to occur if it were left solely to the Yankees devices.

    Still, if you’re going to be limited to 15 minutes of fame in a lifetime, one could do worse than Freese’s script.

    He’s also cheap, decent defensively, could back up Freddie at first, and crushes lefties.

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