Braves Offseason Outlook, Part 1 – Harper, Machado, Pollock, Realmuto, Pollock, and Donaldson

You’ve already heard at length how much the team exceeded expectations this year. They improved their win total by a whopping 18 games to go from 72-90 to 90-72. They needed several rookies and young players to hit all at once, and in some ways, that’s exactly what happened. From the 2017 roster, more players than I can list contributed seasons the 2017 roster didn’t experience. But it didn’t take but 4 games into the playoffs to see that this team is still a long ways off from accomplishing the goal that necessitated The Great Rebuild, to build a roster that can compete with teams like the Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, Red Sox, Brewers, Cubs, Indians, etc. The Braves realistically need to add another 10 wins to their roster between now and Opening Day.

That’s the bad news. The good news is the Braves have lots of resources and lots of routes to take to do it. From the second half 2018 roster, the only expiring contracts are Nick Markakis, Anibal Sanchez, and Brad Brach. It’s good and bad in some ways; we will lose very few players from the roster, but it also means several positions leave an incumbent player that they would need to oust to improve that position. While I know there’s the temptation to leave the core of a successful team in place after a strong season, should the Braves not land Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, some pruning of the cost-controlled players may be necessary.

But let’s talk about what the Braves have to work with before they traded an active roster player. Should the payroll stay constant, the Braves could have as much as $50M to spend on free agents and extensions. After years of dead money tied up in Dan Uggla, Melvin Upton, Chris Johnson, Matt Kemp, and a series of salary swaps, the Braves currently have no dead money on their books. And the Braves have significantly more monetary value in the stash of prospects they have that could factor into trades. Without getting too detailed, one could take a 60-70% likelihood of a player reaching their peak amongst the high minors prospects that don’t currently appear to have a defined spot on the team: Max Fried, Kolby Allard, Luiz Gohara, Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright, Patrick Weigel, Austin Riley, and even Cristian Pache. For the sake of simplicity, say that each player has an average peak of 18 WAR for the years of control the team could have. Then take 50% of that total, and that leaves you with 63 WAR. Adjusting for arbitration raises, you could make an argument that each WAR has a monetary value of $3-4M. Once again, for the sake of simplicity, there’s at least $180-200M in surplus value in the players that the Braves could easily choose to trade to build the roster further.
The Braves may also try to deal off Julio Teheran. With Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, Kevin Gausman, Mike Soroka, and Touki Toussaint having the talent and cost-control to command spots in the rotation, there’s the possibility the Braves may feel that the $11.1M in 2019 and $12M in 2020 owed to Teheran might be better spent elsewhere. And while Teheran has been frustratingly inconsistent from year-to-year and has never reached the top of the rotation status he appeared to project in his early 20’s, he will be tradeable as, at worst, a salary dump and may even have some surplus value. Without spending too much time on this topic, Sean Newcomb is another name from the 2018 rotation that the Braves may look at cashing in on.

So the Braves have a lot to work with, and as was mentioned, there are still holes in the roster to fill. They need at least two middle of the order threats, at least one shutdown bullpen piece, and at least one top of the rotation starter. Their bench is also rather anemic, though that can be easily filled in free agency should they so choose. So where do they get all of that?

Middle of the Order Threats

I stop short of saying that there are specific positions where the Braves need to upgrade. An easy answer is right field, which will most likely be vacated by Nick Markakis, and considering how seemingly easy it is to find middle of the order power in the corner spots, this would seem like a logical spot. And there’s a particular fella Bryce Harper who is high on many, many teams’ lists to provide some big offensive firepower. It would really seem like the Braves are a perfect fit for Harper, but that fit is largely based on the fact that he’s a terrific player and we have lots of money to spend. But there are a lot of teams in need of a terrific player, and there are many teams with lots of money to spend. In fact, betting site Bovada didn’t even list the Braves in the top 8 of their odds to land him:

So if the Braves are unsuccessful adding Harper, then the route to upgrading the roster significantly in one move becomes increasingly less clear. And the same would go for not acquiring Manny Machado. Who might the Braves go after?

JT Realmuto

Really, regardless of whether the Braves land one of the big FAs, Realmuto will undoubtedly be on their radar. He ranks, by far, as the most valuable catcher in baseball, outpacing Yasmani Grandal in fWAR 4.8 to 3.6. While his .277/.340/.484 is not exactly the middle of the order threat you would hope for, he would be a big improvement over Kurt Suzki and the PAs he would take from Tyler Flowers. He would also most likely make his presence felt with how much an upgrade his throwing arm is over both catchers and his framing abilities over Suzuki. His years of control has reduced from 3 to 2 since the last time he was talked about in earnest, but a 3-for-1 for him with at least one top 100 prospect would be the cost for him.

Yasmani Grandal

Think similar offense to Realmuto with less defense, and that’s Grandal. Grandal is a free agent, and should the Braves strike out on the big guys, a 3YR, $54-60M deal for Grandal would help the roster.

Nick Castellanos

Until he’s traded somewhere, he’ll probably be attractive to Atlanta. He lacks Bryce Harper’s ceiling, but he finished this year with an OPS just 35 points lower than Bryce’s. He’s also been doing his hitting in a home park that favors pitchers, so as he enters his age-27 season and at a more neutral park, he’ll probably be a guy you see even better offense from. He’s down to one more year of team control, so I wouldn’t be willing to give up nearly as much for him as I would have last offseason.

AJ Pollock

Pollock hasn’t played more than 120 games since 2015, so he’s pretty low on my list. He would give you similar defense to what Harper would, but his injury history makes him less attractive. He owns a career .805 OPS, and he could seemingly have an excellent second half to his career that would match the .865 OPS that he showed in 2015. I don’t see teams, though, trying to grab him up as a first option this offseason.

Michael Brantley

He’s another interesting option with injury concerns. He had a strong bounce-back season this year, hitting .309/.364/.468 in 631 PAs, but he wouldn’t solve the lack of home run power the Braves currently struggle with (17 HRs in those 631 PAs).

Josh Donaldson

You didn’t think we’d get to the end of this without mentioning him, did you? It’s been discussed frequently his connection to our GM and his solution to the lack of right-handed power in our lineup. He’d also provide some Dansby Swanson insurance by putting Johan Camargo in a super utility role ready to take over SS if the FO didn’t like Dansby’s development. You could even ask Camargo to learn some corner outfield in the offseason, and this acquisition could strengthen the team in more ways than one by upgrading the bench all over the field.

Bottom line is that Bryce Harper or Manny Machado would be every team’s dream for making the big move to improve the roster. But the Braves will probably make one big trade and one “big” free agent acquisition, so regardless of what happens with those two, some of these players may also find their way to Atlanta.

Next we’ll talk about what they might do on the pitching side.

110 thoughts on “Braves Offseason Outlook, Part 1 – Harper, Machado, Pollock, Realmuto, Pollock, and Donaldson”

  1. Thanks Rob. Good analysis. I still don’t believe we will land either of the big two and I don’t think the Marlins will trade Realmuto to us.

    I agree we should trade Julio but I think we should keep Newk. He is very close to where Forty was at the end of last year and I want to give him one more year to prove himself.

    This offseason will be the true first offseason for AA to show us what he is able. It will be interesting. Based on what I see from the trading deadline, I am optimistic. In AA I trust.

  2. The thing about Folty and Newk is that they throw a lot of pitches to get people out. Like, 100 pitches in <6 IP.

    I kinda hope they sell these high pitch/PA pitchers.

  3. Excellent rundown Rob. Analysis like this are what makes Braves Journal almost as much fun during the off season as the regular season. I’m really undecided on Dansby. He seems to be a guy who will develop slowly but in 2 years he could be a top 10-15 shortstop. I’m not sure if we want to wait that long.

  4. I love manager contracts. What’s he making, $800K per? So if they have a bad year, all they have to eat is $800K to get rid of him.

  5. Boy, just imagine getting a mega-deal (in the context of managing) and then getting fired right away. That is the life, my friends. Ozzie Guillen is a goddamned genius. How can I get paid not to work?

  6. Adam R

    Yes-ure-ami Grandal
    would be unlikely to be my pal
    based on what we observed the other day
    but somehow that matters not, you say?

    he was terrible – 4 times over!! And is he 40 yet?

    And i was disappointed to see Realmuto’s plate numbers. Based on what he’s bound to cost, forget him. I have a solution.

    Commit well in advance to a 5 man bench…retain both Flosukis for another year, one done already…Install Contreras Jr as our PH supremo…make it very clear to him he’s primarily there to polish the catching trade at the Major League level from his two elders and betters…and swing a bat, he will have a unique accelerated opportunity to hit the majors running. That bat will end up being a mile ahead of the dregs we had to offer this year, you know it. Three catchers too, as required.

    Free thinking, we need more of it. Cheers!

  7. Like most, I’d love for Weiss, Wash, EYJ, and Seitzer to return. I do think Hernandez is missing the boat with something on the command side. Maybe he’s swinging the pendulum to the other side with the emphasis on power pitching?

  8. @11 Maybe that’s it, but I would prefer to think that this is an organizational thing that has roots starting well before arriving on the major league roster. If throwing hard is what got a guy to the majors, you would expect him to continue to throw hard. Although, I imagine if Folty and Newk took a little off, their command would probably improve (at what costs?).

    I think the Braves valued (past tense) high K rates with the philosophy that walk rates could be improved, and at worst a walk is a little better than surrendering a single.

    I can’t definitively say whether that would be a wrong conclusion considering many baseball teams are going in that direction. I just prefer efficient pitchers who can pitch to contact and get the job done. I would widen the strike zone to make it happen, if I were commissioner.

    But that’s just dumb ol’ me. I’d also ban the shift.

  9. @15 That makes me happy if only because I feel it signals a shift in organizational pitching preferences.

  10. I can’t reconcile DOB’s arithmetic and Peanut saying payroll will go up:

  11. Braves managerial evaluation:

    “Do we want Joe Girardi? No? Well, might as well extend Snit.”

  12. It’s not fair to draw a connection here, but even Gausman’s K/BB dropped after the trade. Of course, his second half K/BB hasn’t necessarily done any differently in the past, but I think they’re aiming to develop Gausman if possible.

  13. @19

    I agree. DOB made it sound like it would go up like $20-30 million. And even then it would only go to like $130 million tops.

    Others have been saying north of $50.

    DOB also said it in his usual combative style, so that makes me want to believe him less.

  14. I will say DOB mentioned that opening day payroll was $122 and we have been assuming $140 (end of year was north of $135 I think). That would be most of the discrepancy.

    Of course AA just said payroll will increase and anyone speculating how much they have to spend is wrong b/c even he doesn’t know the final number yet.

  15. When you name a guy manager and he then proceeds to 1) build a massive internal “family” working environment, 2) expertly navigate bringing literal teenagers into the Major League squad, 3) actively and vocally adopt and improve on management’s more analytic friendly approach on a month to month basis, and 4) wins your division and takes you to the playoffs for the first time in five years…

    I think you sort of have to give him a little more rope, right? If you were to let Snitker go after what he’s done and how he’s built a cohesive winning environment in a locker room that was a bomb site when Coppalella-gate went down, the players would rebel in real time. (And you wouldn’t sign a single free agent name worth having.)

  16. Snit did absolutely everything you could possibly ask for. Sometimes an overachieving stopgap will do just well enough to cause a team to retain him too long — often, it’s because they’re a redass like Terry Collins or Larry Bowa, and by the time you get around to firing them, they’ve alienated the entire clubhouse and potentially screwed up multiple prospects.

    But Snitker has brought his young people along and won a division title to boot. And if he gets fired in a couple years because the team was expected to outperform its 2018 win total but didn’t, everyone will understand and no one will feel like he was betrayed. He’s made me into a believer, for one. I’m eager to give him a little more rope and see if Ronald Acuna can learn how to hit a grand slam in the World Series.

  17. I think the players in the clubhouse are really behind Snitker and want him to stay.

    Overall, I thought he managed ok during the playoff series. I was worried that he would manage it traditionally and leave his starters in too long, but he didn’t really do that and was willing to bring the hook. There were a couple of pinch hit decisions that I found questionable at the time but it turned out they were inconsequential.

    Ultimately, the team needs more power in the lineup and better control/command from the pitching staff. We weren’t as good as the Dodgers and we were going to lose to them no matter who the manager was.

  18. He just needs better players. I still find myself disagreeing with his in-game moves all the time, but he definitely minimizes the really dumb stuff that Fredi used to do. I’ve come to accept that avoiding the really dumb stuff is about all you can ask for. He seems to be a good leader and relates well to kids. Good on him for getting a new contract.

  19. I still don’t believe our manager, or any manager for that matter, is in the dugout making decisions in a silo on the fly. Maybe it was a collective fuster-cluck having Folty hit for himself only to replace him in the next half-inning, but it was a collective one if anything. Somebody in that dugout had to have known the next step and should have spoken up, yes?

    Maybe that’s why we’re shopping for a new pitching coach…

  20. If I’m the GM I would have a red phone to call the dugout and override things when #snithappens. Letting Folty hit there is definitely a collective fail. But this is the same braintrust that sat down before the series started and decided that carrying a third catcher and Flaherty made total sense. The only correct fix for this stuff is to allow direct fan interaction during these planning meetings.

  21. @31 I’m with you for the most part. There is no way the playoff roster is being set without any executive oversight. Over a hundred million dollars is going into this roster with millions more to be made in the playoffs — I’m sure they discussed it, and if someone up above didn’t like the decision, then provide better options for the bench.

    I don’t believe #snithappens all on its own. There’s bound to be a process and expected workflow around these decisions and how to properly use the available data. In the end, a little red phone for the GM or some data geek assistant isn’t a bad thing.

    But as far as fan assistance, never trust the loudest voices in that room. :)

  22. @32, the wisdom of the crowd would probably manage in-game better than most managers. At this point I’ll let Snit have one more year without my direct input, let’s see how it goes, lol.

    Plus, if anyone has proven that they need help from the outside during games, it’s Kirby “Smart”.

  23. Also, it’s not really Snitker’s fault that he had no quality on the bench besides Duda and the backup catcher.

  24. He comes across as kind of smarmy sometimes and you can’t get away from him, therefore everyone hates him.

    Honestly, I think he’s improved over the years and is the best announcer Fox Sports has by about 25 miles, so the level of vitriol is a little over the top for my taste. If you’d rather have that cardboard cutout they had doing the Braves-Dodgers series with Smoltz over Buck, I don’t know what to tell you.

    I honestly think a bunch of people act like they hate him because it’s a thing, at this point.

  25. I’m with Nick. Joe proves that nepotism probably has a small positive correlation with talent, as does EJ Jr, and Skip for that matter. Let’s see, who does that leave?

    Grandal is leaving money on the table tonight…

  26. I want to believe the Braves will spend more than $130M on the payroll simply based on principle, because the Braves have already spent that much just two years ago and when you state that payroll will increase it should mean exactly more than you’ve recently spent.

    However, some very level-headed people I know are expecting approx. $130M (prior to the announcement, though) with some room for deadline deals. I, OTOH, am interested to see a bump in response to increased revenues and decreased stadium costs. We can’t lag behind in spending forever…

  27. Another very good game. It’s educational to watch teams for a few hours who are better than you are and try to define the areas where they would be superior. Milwaukee are going to be hard to beat. If it hadn’t been for Turner’s last minute 2 run homer in the ninth in the previous game the Dodgers would be facing elimination.

    Jhoulys Chacin is amazing to watch compared to what we once knew. Hader is managed to a T, came on in the 8th at 4/0, got the last two outs and then was taken out for the ninth. All to save him for the morrow. Counsell is ruthless and a big risk taker.

  28. @35
    I hated his dad, so there’s a start.

    I felt he was unprepared for the first game of the NLCS. He butchered a bunch of names.

  29. The biggest problem I have with Joe Buck (and almost all other TV announcers) is their need to fill the silence with their voice. They will talk about the stupidest (and often unrelated to the game) topics apparently just because they can not stand the silence. I get it if you are a radio announcer; fans have nothing to watch. But for TV viewers sometimes it is nice to just watch the action unfold without some announcer yammering on about some superstition player X has which developed when he was in middle school. I know some of you say that’s what mute is for but I don’t want total silence; I want the useful information announcers could provide just every once in a while stop talking long enough to at least take a breath of air.

  30. According to MLBTR review of AA interview by DOB, AA essentially says we’re dreaming if we think we’ll get either Harper or Machado. Has no intention of giving out large long contracts that will leave us hamstrung in the future. Sounds to me like Duvall might be your new Braves starting RF.

  31. Either they think Pache is REALLY close, or they’re trying to keep the market from overheating.

    That said, it’s rare that you can buy a player as good and as young as Bryce Harper or Manny Machado for nothing but money. Harper’s coming off a down year that probably cost him about $100 million. If he can be had for less than $250 million, we should hock everything that isn’t nailed down to go grab him.

  32. From the MLBTR article: “Certainly, the Braves GM strongly indicated that fans hoping to land top free agents Bryce Harper or Manny Machado will be disappointed. ‘There’s the obvious big names up at the top, but I don’t know for our club, with what we have, that the value’s going to be there in the free-agent market,’ Anthopoulos said. He suggested that the touchstone of value will govern — even if that means waiting for the middle of the 2019 season or beyond for certain desired acquisitions.”

    That’s unfortunate. Maybe he is trying to preemptively cool the hot stove, but if that’s the real philosophy, then f these guys. The fans have a taste of what it could be, and they don’t care about taking the next steps. Maybe AA will surprise me as he did with the late season moves, but I’m not happy that the first message is to tell the fans that we shouldn’t expect anything big. Maybe I should find a new hobby and stop giving my money to those jerks down Cobb Parkway.

  33. Yeah, I get tired of being told to temper my expectations while half the league outspends the Braves, which is largely due to a criminal TV deal favor (fraud is what that really was).

    In hindsight, I haven’t been that impressed with the deadline deals, since, you know, we kinda let a lot of quality players be dealt to our competitors for not-much. We mostly did just as AA had said, which is we sought players with favorable team control and spent from our deep list of prospects. While Gausman was a nice addition for the stretch, it’s not like we took a gamble on the postseason…

    I’ve no doubt he will make some nice moves this offseason, but it always seems to me that there’s a devil lurking in the shadows with this team’s expenses. I’ll be interested to see if this team spends over $120 million on payroll by opening day.

    By the way, if Duvall becomes the starting RF, then my league in MLB The Show 18 will have predicted correctly, and… Machado looks really nice hitting behind Acuna.

    PS. Please, for the love of sanity, won’t this team forget about Realmuto?? Ever since McCann, I have felt it’s never a good idea to buy high on a catcher.

  34. This is a crummy franchise until its not. And it still is. Anyone with eyes could see this team wasn’t going to spend any money.

  35. @45

    What once was derision in these pages (ububba int al…come on back, you are missed!) is now pure lust. But $3/400 million which was routine for the first part of the year has slipped for most to a level which, reluctantly maybe, reflects a poor offensive year. Or, that’s all we can ‘afford’.

    250M then that likely is and Boras will find deeper pockets. Freddie’s friendship is interesting, it’s our only chance it seems. I’m not sure he’s ‘that’ good, honestly. The analyiticos(tm) for once, seem happy to ignore a year’s numbers and a lot of clutch k’s. He is no Ender in the field.

    8 years at 30ish these days though, ok. Round and round the mulberry bush till i seem to be agreeing with Alex! 100 million for Freddie’s companionship, cheap at the price, Boras be quiet. It’s our only chance.

    And Machado. Tear yourself away from the SEC a moment and watch this guy over a full nine innings. He’s come to life in the post season. Once in every while he shocks you like not running out a double play he’s hit into. Hollywood looks and flashy accoutrements to match. Atlanta? Please! He’ll stay where he is.

  36. @48…c’mon Chief!

    Chief Nocahoma
    from his tepee there’s a tangible, defeatist aroma
    small piles of money, lowly performance numbers
    dominate his dreams, his wannabe slumbers.

  37. I would think this would be the bigger story, AA saying there’s $60M to fill those needs. Do you want Bryce Harper specifically or do you want what Harper signifies: an elite team? $60M added onto what we got will buy you a real nice team with or without Harper.

  38. Given the stat line that he put up this year, if the Braves aren’t going to go after Harper they should just bring back Markakis on a 1 year deal.

    .297 14 and 93 RBI with a .366 OBP is better than what they’re going to get from a non-Harper or Machado signing.

  39. I’m not unsympathetic to AA’s position. If you key on the word “value” then there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t go after anyone in the game as long as that player represented “value”. I interpret that to mean that, at whatever 1 WAR is valued at ($8M? $9M? $7M?), if you can pay to get a player who will outproduce, in WAR value, what you paid then you have made a value-oriented deal.

    This is why a successful player grown on the farm has benefit beyond his production, even at an elite level, because he is also cheap. No FA player will ever be a better value than a home-grown talent…… none…… ever. Front offices coming around to this conclusion are what is making the hot stove cold. Some teams will pay par value in free agency to get particular players because they can or because winning is more important than profit.

    I think AA will pursue Harper and Machado and will pay as much as he deems would be a value-oriented amount. Plus it wouldn’t hurt to drive up the price for another team.

    Honestly, he may go for Donaldson if he can get him cheaper than expected. Realmuto could be a real value deal, because he will easily outperform his salary and we would only have to trade unrealized value for him. And we may be able to trade equal contracts e.g. include Teheran for Dietrich or Prado or something. Exactly the kind of deal, AA would love.

  40. @51

    Bold response. One that takes us into uncharted territory with rhythmic flair.

    @54

    So unpopular and yet not entirely unlikely.

  41. What gives? No one yet has commented on my proposal the other day to put Contreras on the bench, full time, day one as…

    Number one pinch hitter
    third catcher under tuition
    there was a third which i have temporarily forgotten.

    surely the benefits are obvious? Here’s one – bye bye Realmuto from the overpriced floor.

  42. I am in the camp of not understanding why they wouldn’t attempt to spend the money.

    If you are going to wait until mid season to spend it, that is a pretty big gamble. Sounds like the typical BS line we keep getting.

  43. For me, trading for Realmuto and Castellanos and signing Donaldson is the money move vs. having to go the length of term required to acquire Harper. Is it less sexy? Absolutely, but that really transforms the lineup for less overall yearly payroll commitment (and length of term) than throwing the sink at Harper.

  44. @54 Markakis on a 1-year deal seems unlikely. Markakis on more than a 1-year deal seems undesirable.

    Take your pick.

    I’d rather upgrade where possible, and unless we’re signing Machado I kind of like Camargo for 3B.

    I would not, however, mind dumping money into the starting rotation for top shelf starters.

  45. @61 What is it likely to take to trade for Realmuto? I get the impression the Marlins want a lop-sided deal for him…

  46. He’s only got 2 more years left of control. It’s not going to be nearly the deal that the Marlins would have gotten last year. Fortunately, he’s gotten cheaper, and just about every single tradeable asset we had at this point last year got more valuable.

    By the way, if you look at every player younger than 27 or so and our top 30 prospects, you can make the case that everyone but Gohara, Dansby and Ender has gotten more valuable. Even guys like Fried and Allard who didn’t excel at the big leagues because of Fried’s blisters and Allard’s ineffectiveness still pitched in the major leagues and propelled their value further. Riley, Pache, Wright, Waters, Touki, Wilson even Weigel now throwing off a mound vs. down for TJ 12 months ago moved forward.

    Did Wisler and Sims? They probably had as much trade value at the deadline as they did 12 months ago, so they at least didn’t really lose any.

  47. It’ll be interesting to see what’ll come of the Marlins’ efforts to extend Realmuto.

    An extension has to be to improve his trade value, right? It’s just hard to see how he’s any use to them any which way, given the state of their club and his age.

  48. @64 Allard’s value plummeted. Seriously? Everyone and their brother seem to believe in the blogosphere and prospectosphere that his game isn’t likely to translate and that he has light years to go.

  49. @54 I can’t see how signing Markakis would make any sense, even as a 1 year contract. If AA wants to go the route of making a limited commitment to a solid veteran, McCutchen would be a better choice.

  50. I know Jake Lamb has had some injuries and has been a rather streaky hitter when healthy, but I would feel better about acquiring a player like him than I would be going after Donaldson. Let’s see how serious Arizona is about its rebuild….

  51. So AA is telling me to lower expectations? How low? Like we’re going to be a worse team next year? That low? I hate Atlanta sports.

  52. You probably thought he was rated higher than he was to enter the season then. Allard had a FV of 50 at the beginning of the season. At age 20, I don’t think Allard really did all that much to hurt that. At the time, he shared a 50 rating with Ian Anderson, Riley, Touki, Fried, and Wentz. Below him, 45’s were Cumberland, Wilson, Contreras, Jackson, Minter, Waters, Davidson, and Sanchez.

    So first off, I definitely forgot that Jackson’s value has plummeted. I can’t imagine he’ll be a 45 next year. Davidson was 21, and he probably stays a 45 next year. I don’t know why Fangraphs saw 45 wth Sanchez, but he’s had this gap between tools and performance for a long time. At some point he needs to come off lists period. Other than that, everybody has definitely moved forward. Allard was still a 20-year old struggling with a dip in velocity but had a strong year at AAA. And even with the down velo, he didn’t see a big dip in strikeouts or an increase in walks. He’s still probably a 50. I wouldn’t trade him right now vs. someone who saw some helium like Wilson, but he’s still plenty valuable regardless of what he did in 8 major league IP.

  53. @71 If you see the comments to all the articles, there’s a lot of Bryce Harper photoshoppped into a Braves uniform pics being posted. I’d probably tell you to lower your expectations, too… FWIW.

  54. @75 While I don’t think Nick Markakis is even being remotely considered by the FO to man RF full-time next year, that would cause Braves fans to burn their jerseys.

    By the way, I’d like to include a little note about game 3. That was by far the most exciting baseball game I’ve ever been to, though I have to acknowledge I’ve never been to a World Series game. For what can be said about Atlanta sports fans, that was not the case that night. It felt like a college football atmosphere. The fans were into it from the first pitch until the last. I’m younger than some, and even I was exhausted. The stadium may not have physically shook, but it sure felt like it did as Buehler threw 4 wide to Newk and then served up the grand slam to Acuna.

    I don’t think I’d included anything about my experience on here, and wanted to make sure the Atlanta fans got plenty of credit, at least from me.

  55. An original thought
    one into which all souls have not yet bought
    prophecy before their time
    the continuum of logic set aside with a simple rhyme.

  56. So here’s the best excerpt from the MLBTradeRumors piece… read of it what you will:

    ‘Even in terms of perceived needs, there’s room for debate. As Anthopoulos noted, in reference to pending free agents Nick Markakis and Kurt Suzuki, “everyone’s under control, except for those two spots.” There’s a world, then, in which the organization largely relies upon existing options, including its intriguing slate of rising talent, while perhaps weighing reunions with those two veterans or otherwise plugging those gaps with outside additions.

    But Anthopoulos certainly did not sound like he was preparing only to take a straightforward approach to filling those holes. “We’re going to look to upgrade a lot of areas,” he said. “We can improve in the rotation, the bullpen, offensively — in so many areas.”

    Indeed, that comment makes it seem as if just about every part of the roster is potentially in play for change. In seeking improvement, though, the club will need also to balance the pulls of relative certainty versus upside, as well as present versus future value.”‘

    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/anthopoulos-discusses-braves-offseason.html

    I think he plans to make roster changes rather than sticking with the same for next year.

  57. Outside of Acuna, Freddie, and maybe Ozzie, absolutely no roster spot should be “untouchable.”

  58. @79 I would contend that the still-24-year-old Johan Comargo had a remarkable season and should be on whatever future roster for 2019. A GM should be hard-pressed to part ways with such a versatile and borderline all-star caliber player.

  59. Matt Kemp, who heroically came back from being lazy, was awarded the Comeback Player of the Year. Jonny Venters did not. Whatever.

  60. Most exciting inning I ever attended:

    Wednesday, September 15, 1993
    Attendance: 48,825
    Venue: Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium

    Bottom of the 9th, Braves Batting, Behind 2-6, Reds’ Johnny Ruffin facing 7-8-9
    b9 2-6

    Damon Berryhill Double to LF (Fly Ball)
    Chipper Jones pinch hits for Pete Smith (P)
    Bill Pecota pinch runs for Damon Berryhill (C)
    Chipper Jones Strikeout Swinging
    Ryan Klesko pinch hits for Ramon Caraballo Ryan Klesko Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep RF); Pecota Scores

    Jeff Reardon replaces Johnny Ruffin
    b9 4-6

    Otis Nixon Double to RF (Fly Ball to Deep CF-RF)
    Jeff Blauser Single to CF (Line Drive); Nixon to 3B

    Rob Dibble replaces Jeff Reardon
    b9 4-6

    Ron Gant Home Run (Line Drive to Deep LF Line); Nixon Scores; Blauser Scores

    5 runs, 5 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.
    Reds 6, Braves 7

  61. I think Camargo is a very valuable player who has established himself as the starting 3B going forward. I wouldn’t part with him without getting something very important and useful in return. But if you could improve the team significantly in other areas (RF, starting pitching, C) at the cost of putting Charlie Culberson at 3B until Austin Riley is ready, you have to look at it.

    Acuna and Freddie are the only guys I can say absolutely would require too high a price, for me to sell, than any other GM would give.

  62. So like, what was the point of seriously hamstringing ourselves last offseason with the Matt Kemp deal if we’re not going to spend big this offseason? And what was the point of repeatedly saying that there’s nobody (no one player, at least) we won’t be able to sign this offseason (AA repeatedly said this) if we’re now saying, “Well, no…we can’t be in for the top tier. Why would you even think that we would be? That’s ridiculous to think that! You really need to have more realistic expectations, Braves fans.”

    This had better be a smoke screen, because if he thinks that Braves fans will accept the team showing up largely unchanged in April, he’s sorely mistaken (at least I hope he is).

  63. @87 Did you read what I posted @78? My takeaway seems to be different than some of what I’m hearing here. Maybe the organization doesn’t want to sign someone to a $30+ million/year deal for 10 years? Maybe the scope of changes will be more than at two positions and will include pitching acquisitions in addition to new starters in the lineup and on the bench?

  64. I promise to wait and see what happens before I freak out too much. I don’t think AA gains much by talking about how much we are gonna spend, so maybe he should just STFU.

  65. So like, what was the point of seriously hamstringing ourselves last offseason with the Matt Kemp deal if we’re not going to spend big this offseason? And what was the point of repeatedly saying that there’s nobody (no one player, at least) we won’t be able to sign this offseason (AA repeatedly said this) if we’re now saying, “Well, no…we can’t be in for the top tier. Why would you even think that we would be? That’s ridiculous to think that! You really need to have more realistic expectations, Braves fans.”

    Well, I hate to bring facts or anything resembling them into today’s episode of Braves fan melting down like toddlers over an interview with the GM that the vast majority of them quite obviously did not even read, but, well; Anthopoulous didn’t actually say that?

    I mean, *literally* he didn’t say the bit you have in quotation marks – that’s a really bad use of scare quotes around a made up paraphrase, because we’re actually talking about real statements and quotes. But even if you hem and haw out of the misuse of quotes, your paraphrase is itself still light years removed from the spirit and gist of what AA actually said.

  66. Rob, thanks for the brilliant analysis. I think it’s clear that AA doesn’t intend to make a big splash in free agency, so trades are the most likely route. in your analysis though, you list 8 guys, so the available WAR (after the adjustments) is just above 70 WAR. This is a huge purse that must be employed wisely for this team to compete in the next 3-5 years.

  67. IMO…
    1) Dansby > Camargo as a shortstop.
    2) Camargo has more value as a shortstop to a needy team, than he does as a 3B for the Braves, especially with Donaldson and Riley as viable alternatives. Therefore:
    3) Use Camargo to help us get Realmuto or an ace starter. I’m worried the nonchalant Camargo we watched in October may be the real Camargo.

  68. So far, the discussion here has been third-hand at best. It might be closer to fourth-hand. At the very most, it seems folks are seeing red and going worst-case-scenario over some very limited excerpts of an interview that ran in The Athletic (written by Dave O’Brien, formerly of the AJC Braves beat.)

    Those quotes are themselves taken from a synopsis/click-bait rehash of The Athletic’s material at MLBTradeRumors.

    I understand that not all – very few, I suspect – of us have ponied up the annual subscription fee to read The Athletic directly. Luckily for you lot, some of us – me; I’m talking about me, because I’m awesome like that – have.

    I am reticent to mass quote DOB’s work there. The Athletic is a much higher quality of sports journalism precisely BECAUSE it’s pay-walled and subscription only. But that said, here are some larger, relevant quotes from that article. I will do my best to keep this short-ish, and within the realm of “fair use.”

    “I know there’s been a lot of debate what the (payroll) number’s going to be, how much we’re going to have available,” Anthopoulos said during the news conference Monday. “I don’t think anybody in this room knows, because I don’t know. We do not have a payroll number set for next season yet.

    “When everyone’s trying to reverse-engineer it and do the math, there’s a lot of layers to it. One, there’s a salary-arbitration component. We may have to cut the cord (non-tender) certain guys. But we may make trades. We may decide to hold back some money for July, like I did this past year, like I did (when he was GM) in Toronto; I held back about $7 million at that time. It will go up. We will have a good amount of money to work with. As you guys can understand, for the world to know exactly what we have to work with is going to make it a very difficult environment to negotiate trades and free-agent contracts. So, there’s just no upside for us to divulge that stuff.

    “The only other thing I would say is, I know there’s been a lot of expectation that because we freed up those Matt Kemp dollars in 2019, that we would just re-allocate that exact salary to one player. That could happen, but we’re still going to evaluate every deal — whether it’s trade or free agent — on the merits of that deal alone. So, we’re not going to just walk into the store because we have money in our pockets and just buy. If we don’t find the right deal for someone that we like, there’s still other opportunities to shop, whether it could be next year in-season, or they could be (next) offseason.

    “You start signing guys to big, long deals — if you feel good about the deal, you do it now. (But) I wouldn’t force a deal right now that will limit you in years to come.”

    Those are four paragraphs, directly from the piece. The full article is over 50 paragraphs long, though the latter half of it deals with Snitker interviews and quotes as well.

    The point here is, well…

    STOP LIGHTING THINGS ON FIRE! IT’S TOTALLY NOT THAT BAD!!

    Seriously. Dude’s just saying “we have money to spend, there are a lot of options, and right now I’m probably thinking we’ll trade for improvements rather than go all in on the huge dollar free agents, but I’m not locked into that either.”

    Well, he didn’t actually say *that* either, but it’s a better paraphrase than what we’ve had so far.

    EDIT: A URL link to the actual Athletic piece, if you have a subsciption.

  69. The viable paths to offseason improvement for this team are so many and the eventuality of offseason improvement is so likely that I feel zero stress or need to debate any of it.

    As a fan, I’m just sitting back and waiting for AA to impress me. Maybe he’ll do some crazy gunslinger-y moves.

  70. Agreed, Adam. Because this is the internet, and we live in a Twitter dominated ‘discussion’ cycle, there’s this base idea that we must pre-debate every possible scenario to the 9th degree. And by doing so, we wind ourselves up into these balls of impotent rage, whereby we suddenly take the failure to DO EXACTLY WHAT I SAID, immediately, like, last week, as proof that management is never going to do anything at all and they’re just going to take all of the money they should be spending and go let John Malone set it on fire instead.

    I try to stay high level until something actually happens. When he signs someone, or trades for someone, we can dig into the weeds of that transaction. There’s little value in tweaking the blood pressure with what-ifs.

  71. All I’m hearing from AA through various articles and quotes is that his imagination expands beyond the bounds of just one or two open spots on the roster. He’s actively open to exploring possible upgrades at many positions including starting and relief pitching and not just via trade or strictly through free agency but both. He doesn’t sound like he’s ready to stand pat with this roster as constructed.

    I like it.

  72. Saw today is Harper’s 26th birthday. Crazy to think he’s still that young after being around so long.

  73. Yeah. Anything we say now is just for fun and pure guess. Basically AA has no intention to tell anyone which direction he is taking, and it adds no value if he says he is interested in the top 2 FA right now.

    I don’t think DOB’s article adds much to what we already know. Other organizations are also reading and AA isn’t going to publically say anything definite to the media. It seems like he runs a tight ship like JS.

  74. @83 / 86: what a great time that was. i remember that game, that inning quite well. what a great pennant race.
    also, it felt great at the time getting a look at young chipper and klesko, knowing they were in the pipeline.
    I still can’t believe we lost to the Phillies in the NLCS that year *
    Also, can’t believe this is 25 years ago now…

    * if that one goes fair, at 3:04:50 …

  75. @90 @95 @ 96 and others. I miss real baseball already and I’m not all that interested in the remaining four teams. So kvetching is the best way to keep it alive and what’s most important is wanting to be better for next season. I see what makes sense to do and talk about it. If AA can pull a rabbit out of a hat and find a couple of 4-5 WAR players to add in some horribly clever kind of way, I’m all for it.

    Improving this team is a real challenge. On the offensive side, we have above average players all around so bringing in other above average players won’t help much. On the pitching side, we have a huge amount of potential that is close to being realized not to mention a very decent if not above average existing core. The only way to move the needle is to either develop or add star quality players. Star quality players either take time (and a huge amount of luck or skill at drafting) or money. That’s an immutable fact.

    I’m all for letting AA’s genius play out and I’m confident he’ll pull something off that will be a tangible improvement. Until then, I’ll either kvetch and complain or I’ll just be bored.

  76. It’s funny how this perfectly reasonable statement…

    I see what makes sense to do and talk about it.

    …becomes this…

    Star quality players either take time (and a huge amount of luck or skill at drafting) or money.

    This statement leaves a lot out of the picture. You could certainly trade for a star player. You could even sign or trade for a player that’s not a star and make them one because your scouts saw something their current team didn’t, e.g. Gerrit Cole or Charlie Morton.

    Anyhow, it then becomes this…

    I just want Harper though.

    …which THEN becomes this…

    This is a crummy franchise until its not. And it still is. Anyone with eyes could see this team wasn’t going to spend any money.

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  77. Since the day AOL slashed the Braves’ budget, the Braves have been hampered to compete. It seems only natural for any of us to trigger whenever there’s ambiguity around the team’s finances. What [they] did to our team even on the day they sold it has left such visible and lasting consequences that you would have thought they hated this team with a deep and unhealthy passion. Trust of corporate ownership is going to be exceedingly low until they go out and sign the best player in MLB and stick a purple bow on him.

  78. Also, I happen to think that Bryce Harper could potentially offset his contract with the increase in revenue from his signing.

  79. Since the day AOL slashed the Braves’ budget, the Braves have been hampered to compete. It seems only natural for any of us to trigger whenever there’s ambiguity around the team’s finances.

    I know we will never be able to have the “every team’s finances are ambiguous for strategic reasons” conversation enough times for it to sink in.

    I blame Sam. I was about to avoid getting sucked into this particular waste of time, and here I am…

    What [they] did to our team even on the day they sold it has left such visible and lasting consequences that you would have thought they hated this team with a deep and unhealthy passion.

    Take a moment to listen to yourself.

    Trust of corporate ownership is going to be exceedingly low until they go out and sign the best player in MLB and stick a purple bow on him.

    LOL, well, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say the Braves are going to be competitive — just like many other teams in the past, corporate-owned or not, that haven’t necessarily had the highest payroll in all the land.

    And they’ll be competitive whether they find a way to somehow sign Mike Trout* or not.

    *I know you mean Bryce Harper in this case, but I can’t follow you off of every single cliff you choose to leap from.

  80. It’s a valid point about how difficult it is to make an already good team better. “I just want Harper” because he concentrates WAR (and risk, I get it) and it’s a position of need.

    Plus the hype-factor would be through the roof and our revenues would surely increase – at least for one year, lol.

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