Winter Meeting Notes

The Freeman post was getting long in the tooth.

Washington traded Tanner Roark to the Reds for a prospect. He was arguably their 4th starter. You’d have to think Washington is trying to upgrade a spot in the rotation.

Bowman says it was a pre-planned meeting. I don’t think anyone truly knows if the budget is negotiable with Liberty itself even though the separation between Liberty and the Braves is well-documented. But if that’s the case, then why is a Braves employee as far down the rung as even the Senior VP of Baseball Ops role that he seems to be carrying meeting with Liberty? Might he have already planned to entertain trade offers and negotiate free agents to then consult with Liberty about payroll?

Reds are interested in Ender

Ender’s now been speculated to be included in trade talks with the Indians and Reds now. Dansby and Folty have been talked about, though Bowman has only spoken about Folty being an unlikely trade piece. He did not do so for Ender or Dansby.

Craig Mish has been banging the drum for “Realmuto to the Braves” for months unwaveringly. He’s convinced Atlanta is the most likely landing spot for Realmuto. He’s the person I’m most confident in when I read trade piece rumors for Realmuto.

I agree, Stephen. I’m pretty Realmuto’ed out until the trade goes down.

82 thoughts on “Winter Meeting Notes”

  1. Was not aware that Ryan Flaherty seems to speak good Spanish (at least he does on social media). I would bet that if you’re not very good at playing baseball anymore, Spanish-speaking skills might keep you playing baseball in the major leagues a little longer. I wonder how many guys nearing the end of their career will learn Spanish to have that one little leg up over similar players. You can’t make yourself hit or field better, but you can do something like that to increase your worth.

  2. DOB is always talking about the Braves “keeping in touch” with Markakis and is constantly talking him up. He clearly has a mancrush on him for some reason.

  3. I doubt speaking Spanish would help you hang on as a player, but I’m sure it would give you a major advantage in convincing your team to give you a soft retirement by offering you an immediate job with the organization as an instructor / coach.

  4. Also, I personally read the Nationals trade as being more of an indication that the Nats lost faith in Roark. They’ve been yanking him back and forth between the rotation and bullpen for a while. I think he’s very useful depth for them and not sure why they jettisoned him like this, but they’ve been treating him as the odd man out for a while.

  5. long in the tooth?
    some posters, forsooth
    but hardly the topic
    we progress with what’s changing, not the myopic.

  6. Not going to make more of the Liberty Media meetings than it probably is, but I honestly hope they didn’t list AA as a mandatory attendee while being aware that the winter meetings would be underway. Even knowing that the winter meetings are generally just a starting point to the offseason, it’s still of importance, and one would not expect the corporate side to be so visible on the baseball side.

  7. @5 So why not just keep him a swing man? Is it his roster spot or the salary they wanted to clear? Regardless, whenever you can make a Tanner R. for Tanner R. trade, you’re not going to not make that trade.

    Since Flaherty was seen by some as a player/coach — clear not a player — I wonder if that skill helped him stay on for at least the month of September.

    blazon, definitely trying to find the right balance. The pursuit is ongoing!

  8. On reflection, AA’s interview on 2 days ago, generally milquetoast, did let out one interesting fact about a dialog that took place towards the end of this season.

    We were in real talks with Suzuki, offered him a 2 year deal, could not agree on dollars. Hmmm, who would have guessed that?

    Rob at #8…you’re a good man.

  9. AA in Denver
    with many bullet points to tender
    remember dear Nagle
    do not, at any time, attempt to finagle.

  10. If I had to hazard a guess, it would be that AA is going out there to ask for more money or for approval to make a move that would put us slightly over our previously agreed-upon budget for the year. I don’t have any evidence to support that, it’s just my guess.

    If I’m right, that would be just another thing to indicate that people who suggest that Liberty Media has almost nothing to do with the size of the operating budget of the Braves (other than providing it to the club) are completely full of it.

    Yes, I’m sure that they’re not allowed to meddle in baseball-only decisions that have nothing to do with budget, which I would guess includes day-to-day moves (minors call-ups, 40-man roster maneuvering, etc.) and signings/trades that clearly fall within the budget (Josh Donaldson last month, for instance), but if you think they have absolutely no control over the ongoing size of the budget and that they can’t at least somewhat expand or contract it if they so choose, I just don’t know what to tell you.

  11. If I’m right, that would be just another thing to indicate that people who suggest that Liberty Media has almost nothing to do with the size of the operating budget of the Braves (other than providing it to the club) are completely full of it.

    I stop short of saying “completely full of it”. I think there’s a genuine hope — and some indications from the beat writers — that Liberty isn’t screwing over the Braves. With that said, if this is the case, a porn company is going to put us in the top half of payroll, close to top-10. I mean, I just can’t be mad at Liberty that we’re not top-5. I’m not mad that we don’t spend like LA, LAA, NYY, NYM, and CHC. I can be convinced that SFG, WSH, STL, and HOU are better baseball markets. Then there’s about a list of a half dozen teams where I stand to wonder if we should be spending better than those guys. That’s where I want to see where we end up in as we’re trying to win post-STP.

  12. @12

    For me, it’s less a matter of we’re top 10, we’re top five, whatever, than it is of spending what we need to. If AA’s got a budget that he knows he generally has to stick to, but he goes out there because he wants to expand it a bit for a specific deal and they say no, that’s a problem. (And yes, I know that’s all speculation, before Sam or somebody else hits me with that.) Whether or not we’re spending more or less than Washington or St. Louis or whoever in a given year really doesn’t concern me that much.

  13. I agree with Nick. If there’s a hypothetical situation where, let’s say, Bryce Harper is trying to become a Brave but Liberty Media won’t flex to allow a budget increase for it, that would be maddening because such a move will also help to increase revenue. I feel that in this case, we’re more likely to run up against a problem gaining approval on a very long term contract than on a short term expense, but the issue remains the same: a corporate owner ought not to restrict the team’s ability to expand or, in this case, restore its market.

    Regarding the market of other higher spending teams, I already know the Braves have one of the better markets. It hasn’t taken much for MLB and ESPN to plaster the Braves onto the front page every day and chance they can. I think that’s proof enough that the market is hungry for some Braves again.

  14. The TV contract was part and parcel of the spinoff to Liberty. Liberty was very keen to make the overall deal to limit their tax liability and objected to the terms of the TV contract, but lost out in the negotiation, presumably settling for some other thing. In any case, they get a number never explicitly mentioned, but in the vicinity of $25 MM a year for the broadcasts, while the Dodgers get $150 MM. Needless to say, the Dodgers do not have a TV market anywhere near 6 times the size of the Braves market, especially since they split LA with the Angels.

  15. Yeah, but thankfully the Braves have since been able to renegotiate part of that TV contract. There are still more unknown details around so-called “accelerators” and contractual provisions that are said to affect about 50 games. The more recent articles around the Braves’ TV rights has a lot more optimism around it leading me to believe that the team is in line for budget increases as we move closer to 2027.

    I believe we will be hearing more in the coming years about a Braves regional sports network. When they do finally get to control their TV deal, it may be a doozy.

  16. On the TV deal and the sale from Time Warner to LM:

    Major League Baseball promised it would look over the sale and only approve it if the new owner would field a competitive team (remember?). So, MLB knew that the rights under the TV agreement were originally negotiated between two companies owned by the same parent and had the potential to be non market. Likewise, LM is plenty sophisticated in market valuations and even as it goes to sports franchises (Malone was once a part owner of the Rockies).

    So, MLB SHOULD have caused some portion of the cash equal to the substandard value of the TV contract to be set aside. MLB SHOULD be making sure that component is gradually inserted into the Braves operation.

    Do I think MLB forced a set aside based on this? No. If it did then Liberty Media is lying when they say the TV contract constrains them and MLB shouldn’t allow them to play that PR game.

    The real issue here is that MLB’s promises to protect the value of the Braves are partly hollow.

    Also, with streaming and weird stuff, nobody knows if rights deals will keep going up, but one in the pas year or so (Tampa Bay?) seemed to still be pulling value per viewer on a big pay model.

  17. I know the deal sounds criminal. Since we don’t get to know the scum bag who made the deal from TW’s side, we at least know that Fox has been the beneficiary of our misery — I think they deserve our ire. They knew it was a terrible deal that they were agreeing to and happily consumed it. Well screw them.

  18. @22 Donny,

    No, we do not know Fox has been the beneficiary. They bought SportSouth from Time Warner after the Time Warner division “Braves” had signed the contract with Time Warner division “Sport South.” So, the price Fox paid would have reflected the costs and potential operating revenues of SportSouth.

    The most likely thing is that Time Warner benefited most from this because they got normal price on Braves despite sub normal revenue from the TV deal and MLB didn’t force an adjustment to the deal (shifting more assets into Braves to represent lost revenue).

    It is also possible that Liberty Media got an adjustment but acts like “what adjustment.”

    Maybe a shareholder of Liberty (or particularly BATRA, hmm) ought to get to the bottom of this.

  19. I wish some team, not named the Braves, would go ahead and trade for Realmuto, so Atlanta would stop being connected to him. I get that the dude has a ton of talent, but Miami’s asking price is insane! They reportedly wanted Acuna last year, and now it’s “come down” to Albies? Seriously? Get out of here with that! Lol.

    If the Braves get a Closer (Kimbrel @ 4yrs is my hope, but Britton or someone else is more realistic), and a COF with 1 or 2 years of control, such as Reddick (in a platoon with Duvall) or Castellanos, I think they’ll be solid.

  20. @8

    Wasn’t Tanner Roark’s projected Arb salary in the 10 million dollar range this season? That’s expensive for a swing man who lost some velo last season, on a team above the luxury tax line.

    It’d be similar to asking would you want the Braves to keep Tehran as a swing man, if it were at the expense of being able to afford an upgrade at COF or another spot?

  21. I don’t think Fox or TW or anyone trying to make money deserves our ire. If we start getting mad at organizations or people who try to get every penny they can, shouldn’t we be upset with the players first and foremost?

  22. @25 That’s a big number. Good point. I don’t know, though, if they’re going to end up with 5 SPs better than Roark. After Scherzer, Stras, and Corbin they have Joe Ross, right?

    Fun fact: B-Ref liked Roark to a 3.0 bWAR. Second on their staff. Second on our staff? Anibal with a 3.0 bWAR. Both players won’t be back with their respective teams.

  23. @28 Yes, it’s Joe Ross and then Erick Fedde rounding out the Nats rotation, as it stands. That’s not the strongest back half; but they’re looking at a lot of veteran starters, Anibal included, I heard. I imagine they’ll sign someone, and let the 3 guys duke it out for the 2 spots in ST.

    That is an interesting fact. I’d imagine if you made the pundits guess who’d end up with each other’s lines before the season started, they’d all have them flipped. Sanchez meant a lot to the Braves last year, though. I hope he does well, wherever he goes. The guy is a NL pitcher if there ever was one, though.

  24. I don’t care what he’s asking for. He’s been a moderately reliable reliever for three of the last four years. He’s not worth the contract or the years. It’s a nostalgia move.

  25. If you took Kimbrels last four years and mixed them into Arodys Vizcaino and Luke Jackson’s 2018 you’d have a hard time distinguishing all but one. (Kimbrel 2017)

  26. It didn’t fluctuate like that when he was with the Braves. I’m not sure if he’s quite as good as once was.

    I don’t expect he’ll reunite with the Braves. I don’t think we’re shopping for relievers right now. I expect it will be February before we hear much on that front.

  27. Well, I’ll recant on my opinion that anything’s really changed about him. He’s been playing in the AL East, and understandably his walk rate climbed. I’d be nibbling too.

  28. @31 I’m going to have to disagree with you, to an extent. When you compare Kimbrel side-by-side, to some of the game’s greatest Closers, he’s statistically better than Rivera, Hoffman, or anyone else through this point in their careers. Did he have a bit of a down year, by his standards, last year? Absolutely. His baby daughter also had serious health issues prior to the season, which understandably caused him to get off to a slow start.

    Now if you want to debate rather of not 15-20 million dollars a year is too much for **any** RP, you can make an argument there. If you want to say going long term on any RP is ill-advised, given their volatility, you’d probably be right. The issue is, that’s the market though; and Kimbrel is one of the premier, if not **the** premier talent in the game, as a closer. Stats back that up.

    If the Braves can get him @ 4 years, and say 72 million, I hope they jump. He gets to say he became the highest paid RP in the game, and they don’t have to go into his aged 36 & 37 seasons, when they may need money for Acuna. If he’s firm on the 5th or 6th year, pass.

  29. I really don’t see the Braves, where they’re currently at, spending anywhere close to $18 million on a reliever. They’d be better off giving $30 million to a COF if that’s the case.

  30. Hello, happy Saturday, I’m here to remind you that Realmuto and just a middling outfielder gives us one of the best lineups in the NL:

    Mick Narkakis

    May it be so.

  31. On McAuley’s show, Nick Green was referencing some quote from someone that I can’t find in print that Atlanta and Chuck Hernandez were not on the same page. The speculation is Hernandez wasn’t into analytics as much as the Braves are now. Hence why he’s going to be a bullpen coach for New York. And by hiring Philly’s pitching coach, it would seem that they’re wanting someone with a better grasp of advanced stats. Great for us.

    I say that to say that I don’t think Atlanta will value a top-of-market closer, someone they’ll pay $18M to get the last 3 outs of the game. I think they will be much more keen on getting some relievers that are more situational, and someone like Minter will be cromulent to get the last 3 outs but isn’t the guy that we would necessarily bring in with runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out and hitters 3-4-5 coming up with the game on the line. I think they’re just going to look at the big moments of the game differently than Guy 1 pitches the 7th, Guy 2 pitches the 8th, the Closer(TM) pitches the 9th.

  32. I hope you’re right, Rob, that they will resist signing a closer for huge bucks and that they will be more creative and strategic about reliever usage.

    Speaking of closing, I still think there is a chance that Minter will turn out to be quite good in the role. He needs to command that change up; if so, he could be dominant.

  33. @38 You may very well be right. To me though, they’re missing out on a chance to take a homerun swing, if they don’t. They built an entire rebuild on starting pitching, but those guys are young. Young pitchers don’t go deep into games. So instead of trading a haul for a guy like Kluber, why not spend the money on a dominant closer, and shorten the game?

    I’d convert Fried to a reliever, and go:

    6th inning: Fried
    7th & 8th inning: Viz or Minter, depending on opposing line up
    9th inning: Kimbrel

  34. @39 Didn’t AA and Josh Donaldson say the plan is for Donaldson to bat 2nd this season though? I believe I recall hearing that.

    I really don’t want to see Realmuto on the team unless the price comes down significantly, however. Not a fan of seeing Riley, and one or two of our elite pitching prospects 18 times a year, in a Miami uniform, for the next 6-10 years, when Realmuto bolts after 2 for a mega deal. If they’re going to ship out that big prospect package (and I hope they don’t), I want it to be for Haniger, since RF is vacant.

  35. I don’t think we really know what the market actually is for Realmuto. We read a lot of posturing by Jeter and Co., but that’s clearly BS, so who’s to say what it will take to get him.

  36. @43 Assuming they only trade 2, maybe 3 pitchers from their stash, and at least one is not in 2019 plans at all, then you still have a ton of young SPs to put in the bullpen. I won’t play the listing game, but they could easily find someone who might be just as good as Kimbrel in a one-inning role. Man, Gohara in one-inning spurts might be even more lethal than Kimbrel. Personally, I’m good with our bullpen as currently constructed vs. $18M per year with Kimbrel.

    With that said, Familia signed for $10M per, and Joe Kelly signed for $8M per. It’d be hard for me to see Kimbrel getting $18M annually.

  37. @46 @39 I would hate to see Riley included in the deal for Realmuto. I am convinced that every team making a trade that included a top 3B prospect that actually became a decent major leaguer regretted that decision/trade. I would much rather see a combination of Pache or Waters and Jackson (and Flowers) and however many pitchers it takes than lose Riley.

    That being said, the Braves seem to somehow now be the favorites for Realmuto. I think we should still pick up Dietrich and make a Dietrich/Duvall platoon our LF and Acuna in RF. Your lineup is spot on and then looks like this


    And I’d prefer Inciarte bat 9th instead of 8th. The bench would be strong with McCann, Camargo, Culby, and Duvall/Dietrich.

    That would still leave some money, maybe $20M if Teheran is traded to go after a big SP and a RP. We could trade Teheran for Porcello straight up. Or Teheran and a prospect for Alex Wood. A move like that would leave about $8M to sign a really good reliever – Britton, Herrera, Brach, David Phelps – whoever would take a one or two year deal.

  38. @50

    Well remembered.

    I was there at the old Riverfront, what a moment. My new neighbor friend, avid Red, sitting next to me, went apoplectic with pure rage, he couldn’t accept we were entitled to hit his beloved Rob like that. The hit itself was a bit of a monster.

    Don’t see so much of him any more.

  39. @51. Wow, you were there watching it live? Must be awesome!

    Considering the Reds were the defending champ at the time, that was a pretty special moment.

    I remember I was watching the game on TBS as usual at home. The Reds destroyed Leibrandt pretty bad at the start…

  40. Mark Bowman:

    Source: The Braves have not had any discussions regarding J.T. Realmuto within the past five days and they do not plan to have any further talks with the Marlins regarding the All-Star catcher.

  41. @48 I’d trade Pache, no problem. I in no way, shape, or form, want to trade Waters, however. I’d deal Riley before Waters. Waters has the highest floor of any OF in the Braves system, and given the lack of depth starting to show in the low minors, positionally, it’s imperative they keep guys that are safe bets to reach their potential.

    @53 I caught that, too. It made my night. :)

  42. @53 I see it as the Marlins’ attempt to get better offers. The fact that they say the Braves are ahead is precisely showing that the Braves are not interested.

    Honestly I don’t want Realmuto. I don’t want to waste our prospect capital on a catcher. I am ok to trade prospects for an ace who can pitch over 200 innings or a power hitting outfielder who can play 140-150 games…not for a catcher.

    Just move on from Realmuto. It’s not going to happen and I don’t want it to happen. Let’s move on.

  43. Both things can be true. The Braves current offer one the table could still be the “leading offer,” while they could have not had any conversations in the last five days while the Marlins desperately try to up the offer from where the Braves left off.

  44. Sam Beckett
    now that he’s had time to check it
    says we’re covered both ways
    unlikely then he’ll be ours in a hundred f days.

  45. @58 Exactly. That’s the way I took it. The way Bowman interpreted it was over-thinking it, I believe. The Braves will not re-engage until the Marlins call them not the other way around.

    The guy talking up the Braves, Craig Mish, seems to be more plugged in on the Marlins than Bowman or anyone else on the Braves.

  46. Bowman and DOB are in perpetual states of trying to dial back fan expectations, as all beat writers are. There’s only one Bryce and only one Machado, but every team’s fans want both. And that’s no different every year when there’s a top FA or top trade target available. So I think Bowman is saying, “Hey, there’s nothing new here. And they may not be anything new.”

    I think we’ve just put out what is fairly close to our highest and best offer(s), and the ball is in Miami’s court. Craig Mish, the internet’s JTR trade expert, thinks that it definitely gets done before the end of December, if not this week.

    I also think it’s possible Atlanta has made a bunch of offers, maybe even about a half dozen. Mish says the Braves have talked about other players from the Marlins. There could be trade offers with a combination of, at minimum, JTR, Prado, JT Riddle (maybe?), some of Miami’s bullpen pieces, Teheran, Anderson, Allard, Riley, Pache, etc. etc. etc. And they could have a ton of offers out there, other teams could have a ton of offers out there, and the Marlins are going to take a period of time to look at them. That’s how I can explain to myself where there seems to be uniquely just so many updates over a long period of time about one player. But it would really seem like, at least according to Mish and reading the tea leaves from the beat writers, that it could be coming to a head.

    I know I wish it was done one way or the other.

  47. Jason Heyward is 29 years old. The Cubs are looking to clear payroll. If the Cubs paid the differences each year to allow the Braves to have Heyward at $15M per year for the last 5 years of his deal, would you want him back? Basically I’m asking if you would “sign” Heyward at 5YR, $75M.

    Heyward is actually on the downslope of the AAVs of his deal. He was making $28M~ per year in his first three years. Now he’s at $20M, $21M, $21M, $22M, $22M, so it’s not insane to think the Cubs might be willing to eat about 25% of that.

  48. I don’t think Heyward will be a Cub much longer. If they ate 25% of his contract that would be tempting, but I’m not sure if that would do it. When his defense goes through expected decline around 33 or 34 and his bat drops off some, 15 million will be an albatross of a contract for what could be a negative WAR player. My guess is they’ll either do a bad contract for bad contract swap or just give him his outright release at some point.

  49. I would stay far away from Heyward, unless you think playing in SunTrust will restore him to a 4+ WAR player. He got his money with Chicago and promptly faded from being a 6 WAR OF’er — how does one explain the timing of that?

  50. So the Mets just signed Ramos and are definitely out on Realmuto. The Braves may be the last ones “in” soon. MIA is screwing the pooch on Realmuto just like they did on their other trades. I hope the Braves eventually get him for less than the Marlins are asking – something reasonable as opposed to outrageous.

    By signing Flowers and McCann so early at such reasonable rates, the Braves have essentially solved the catching problem adequately while not eliminating the possibility of getting Realmuto. If Grandal signs soon then another suitor will be out. The Braves can continue their pursuit casually without having to act desperate. Very smart in my opinion – especially if AA knows exactly what his top offer will be and doesn’t exceed it. Best negotiation tactic in the world is a willingness to walk away.

  51. Yeah, I think the Braves have handled the Marlins well. Supposedly, no one is offering more than the Braves and walking away is the only thing to do. I wonder if our offer decreases after a while? I mean, with fewer teams “in” that would only seem fair.

  52. Well, I think the simple answer to the man’s question is, “probably by the end of the offseason”. I think the article where you’re insulted about cheap ownership should at least wait until the end of the offseason. He’s got the Braves not spending more than the $117M already committed, but the Phils signing Machado and Harper, which would put them around $190M. If that happens, by all means be outraged. But he’s doing a lot of assuming a little too early in the offseason.

  53. I just like how AA is handling things and I like how he refuses to overpay like the Phillies. I am sure AA will spend every single dollar available to him and in AA I trust.

  54. This speaks the truth:

    I think the modern media environment and post-moneyball awareness of front office operations has made lots of us fans fall into the trap of buying the company line and concerning ourselves with “payroll limitations” and contract value as if they were noble distractions from the quality of the team on the field.

    We shouldn’t let this team off the hook for being frugal.

  55. LOL – lots of good stories tonight…. I like this confirming what we have already concluded.

    @71 Rob, I’m with you on this. AA has not been shy to spend money and I really do like the idea that he is trying to buy or trade for “value”, real value, as opposed to just spending money. I endorse that idea 100%. If he ultimately concluded he could get Harper as a “value” purchase then I bet he would do it in a heartbeat.

  56. @75 It’s quite hard not to, honestly. But at the time the idea of having the Upton brothers together were indeed quite intriguing. However, we definitely overpaid just like how the Phillies overpaid McCutchen. Maybe the Phillies can afford it but we can’t.

  57. @75 Sounded to me like he approved of the Melvin contract when he described it as a moderate deal for a player entering his prime.

  58. Yeah, I feel the Mets finally had enough of the Marlins’ obnoxious vacillating, and moved on. I think the Marlins are going to end up taking something less than what they want from the Braves, or will stubbornly hold onto Realmuto for another year and watch his trade return value dwindle with each passing month of the 2019 regular season.

  59. @62

    No. Please, just no. I wouldn’t want to see Heyward in an Atlanta uniform again if the Cubs paid 90% of the contract. He posted almost an identical line to Gerardo Parra last year, and the Rockies didn’t feel he was worth a deal a good bit less than the 15 million you’d be paying Heyward, so they cut him.

  60. @74 The crux of the argument as I understand it is that when the team is only one or two pieces away from what they feel is a championship caliber team, THEN they will open the purse to get that player. Until then, we’re strictly looking for value.

    That sounds like a good thing to tell fans. I’m not so sure about it, but as long as I see the Braves spending a reasonable amount on players (even if it’s just on 1-year deals) it’s better than concluding that we’re trying to win on a small budget and a bunch of discount pieces.

    That same blogger also wrote a good piece giving credit to Frank Wren. I never left the Wren bandwagon, and I knew I was being fed a bowl of re-heated horse crap when they decided to rebuild. We lost a lot of value and gave ownership a good excuse to not spend.

  61. @79, Whoa, whoa, whoa. I kept a neutral position there. For the record, I would not want Heyward back unless there was some reason to believe his offense could rebound.

    I probably should say when I’m not giving an opinion but just looking to see what other people think.

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