Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos Excites Us at Chopfest

While it was a wintry 30-something for Chopfest held at newly donned Truist Park this weekend, there were some deliciously steamy words uttered by Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos in a question and answer session for some select fans:

-Thoppy

Dissection

Big and impactful. Ok… Matt Joyce just signed a 1-year deal with the Miami Marlins, and while we as Braves fans can wring our hands over a productive player in 2019 going to a team in the NL East, Matt Joyce isn’t what McGuirk had in mind when making that statement. With the payroll already pushing 150 million, it sounds like McGuirk is giving Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos free range to add what he needs to make a World Series contender. Gosh…that feels like a long way from where this team stood financially 2 short years ago.

Analyzation

Push us over the top. Alright, McGuirk. With stars aligned at 1B in Freddie Freeman, 2nd base in Ozzie Albies, (presumably) RF in Ronald Acuna Jr., and SPs in Max Fried and Mike Soroka with many more good players complimentary pieces throughout the projected 26-man, “push us over the top” seems to fit in that first tier. A star. A 4-5 win player. Ok. Now let’s get digging.

The Thoppy Philosophy

In the same sitdown with fans, Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos essentially spelled out his philosophy on acquiring/signing players when he discussed last year’s signing of Josh Donaldson. Coming off of a great 2018, Anthopoulos admitted he had very little desire to block Johan Camargo of playing time at 3B, but when he contacted Donaldson’s agent and found that he was willing to take a 1-year deal, his plan altered. With that in mind, outside of the players listed in the first paragraph and their positions listed, whether it be starting pitching, relief pitching, or position player, if the right deal comes along, Anthopoulos could pounce and figure it out later.

Looking at the free agent market, it is barren of game-changing talent. Some might point to Nicholas Castellanos, but the track record just isn’t there to put him in that tier. That takes us to trades.

Trade Targets

In this exercise, I take it upon myself to stretch the words of McGuirk to mean that Anthopoulos has free range, whether it be to spend money or to trade top assets to put the team over the top.

Infield

Matt Chapman– The cream of the crop and likely completely unavailable. Would literally cost 4 top-10 prospects and likely has the highest trade value of anyone on this list.

Nolan Arenado– Grabbing Arenado would be putting the money where the mouth is and would be an awesome get for the Braves, but it’ll come with a huge cost, no matter the money owed or whether or not he’d waive the opt-out.

Marcus Semien– Only 1-year of control left. Would Beane take a straight deal for Dansby Swanson? Would the Braves? It’s an interesting thought.

Francisco Lindor– 2 years of control and a big name that’s been said to be unavailable. I can’t foresee the Indians staying alive in their division and if that’s true, they’ve got some really attractive trade pieces. Could Lindor be a trade deadline target?

Kris Bryant– In the upcoming weeks, we will likely find out the inevitable and that is that Bryant lost his grievance. I still think this is the most realistic choice and love the idea of him being able to play corners in the infield and the outfield for 2 years at an elite offensive rate.

Eduardo Escobar– The Diamondbacks are holding out hope that they can compete again this year so I don’t think we’ll see Escobar moved before spring training, but if Austin Riley or Johan Camargo don’t take 3B by the horns, I’d expect his named flirted with in July.

Justin Turner-There’s been whispers that the Dodgers would trade Turner if they acquired Arenado, and I’d be 100% ok for that trade to be to the Braves.

Jose Ramirez– Had a down 2019, but he’s really good, only 27, and had back to back elite years with the Indians in ’17 and ’18.

Outfield

Mookie Betts– This is one you don’t hope for because of the “Price” tag, but if McGuirk was being truthful, would he allow Anthopoulos to grab Mookie and Price in exchange for Ender Inciarte, Mike Foltynewicz, Shane Greene, Adam Duvall, and 2 top-10 prospects? I highly doubt it, but it would definitely be an over the top move.

Jorge Soler– Soler’s defense has been questioned…a lot. It’s likely no worse than Ozuna’s, but his bat is strong and he needs out of K.C. While it doesn’t make a ton of sense to acquire another OFer, one could justify grabbing Soler, trading Adam Duvall, and using Nick Markakis or Ender Inciarte as a PH/defensive sub.

Trey Mancini– I can’t imagine he’s going anywhere as he’s literally the only reason to go see the Orioles (think Dale Murphy, 1987).

Mark Canha– Breakout candidate in 2019 and just the kind of guy that Billy Beane would sell high on. This would be scary…and not in a good way, IMO.

Starting Pitcher

Charlie Morton– The Rays are really good at building trade value and then selling a player to restock with upper minors talent to quickly replace them with, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Morton wearing a different uniform before 2021.

Shane Bieber– Homegrown stud out of the Indians organization. Likely unavailable, but worth listing.

Mike Clevinger– See Bieber, but with 2 years less control. Likely unavailable, but not as unavailable as the Bieb.

Marco Gonzalez– Has gotten great results despite not having great stuff. Relies on location and limiting hard contact.

Kyle Hendricks– See Marco.

German Marquez– really good away from Coors and has a great contract.

Joe Musgrove– Good at limiting baserunners and broke through in 2019.

Matthew Boyd– One of the best sliders in the game and working on his FB at Driveline as we speak.

Relief Pitcher

Ken Giles– He hits himself, but he’s an elite reliever if healthy.

Kirby Yates– He doesn’t have the velo of Craig Kimbrel, but he’s putting up video game stats like prime Craig Kimbrel.

Liam Hendriks– Best reliever in the game in 2019 and found a 2nd gear with his fastball.

Brad Hand– Not on the same level as Yates or Hendricks, but would likely be the best reliever in the Braves bullpen.

Most Realistic Targets

  • Infield- Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado: If McGuirk is truly serious about grabbing over the top talent, these 2 are it and seem like they’ve got one foot out the door.
  • Outfield- Jorge Soler: I feel like the OF won’t be added to, rather subtracted from. Still, if someone like Ender Inciarte or Adam Duvall is part of the return Soler can hit bombs like no one else.
  • Starting Pitcher- Charlie Morton: This feels more like a trade deadline move should the Rays not be where they want to be at that time, but Morton wanted to come back to Atlanta and the Braves would be smart to bring him home.
  • Relief Pitcher- Ken Giles: It was rumored the Braves were after him at last year’s deadline before the elbow scare and I wouldn’t doubt it if AA were looking to make the bullpen the best in the game, whether it be now or at the deadline.

Thanks for reading! Who’s your pick to put this team over the top?

If you enjoyed this piece on Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos and the moves he could make to put the team over the top, check out this piece on the full 2020 Atlanta Braves Payroll Update.

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Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

48 thoughts on “Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos Excites Us at Chopfest”

  1. With respect to Kobe Bryant’s family, especially his daughter, I’d rather keep comments from last thread in the last thread.

  2. Will only disagree regarding Ozuna and Soler’s defense.

    Soler- ~2500 OF innings: -30 DRS
    Ozuna ~8000 OF innings: 250 DRS

    UZR numbers are similar. Ozuna may be average to slightly below average, but Soler is a defensive liability who is already playing mostly DH.

  3. Tweet from Tyler Kepner, couldn’t agree more what a great quote:

    “To me there are two things in this world, there’s life and there’s baseball, and one helps you get through the other.” — Jerry Seinfeld, who said this tonight at the @NYBBWAA dinner. I kinda think it’s the most profound thing I’ve ever heard.

  4. @cam
    IMO, Statcast is the most advanced metric (aka, has the most $ to be the most advanced metric) and it shows much different results for Soler. Still below average but not by much.

  5. Ramirez is interesting just because the Indians have come out and said they’re not keeping Lindor, so it seems like it’s getting near teardown o’clock in the Mistake By the Lake. But they won’t sell Jose for pennies on the dollar.

  6. @5
    I agree that Ramirez is interesting, and while I’d be willing to bet that Indians hold on to their guys at least until ASB, if they’re out of contention by then, look out.

  7. Hell yes. Why in the world would the Reds deal him? It’s like Scott Kingery in Philly — I can’t understand why the teams want to jerk these kids around so much when they’re clearly better than multiple other options at multiple other positions. Just put him in one place and let him get his feet under him.

    Cincinnati’s behavior has been utterly bizarre over the last couple of years and I’d be very very happy to take advantage of that by taking one of their best young players off their hands, like we did when Dave Stewart ruled the roost in Phoenix. But they’ll presumably have to demand a king’s ransom just to save face from screwing up with a cost-controlled guy who they were expecting to be a franchise cornerstone.

  8. I am really glad we have Ozuna for 1 year rather than Castellanos for 4. Do you think Jesse Winker is available now? Surely they won´t play both of them in the same outfield.

  9. I definitely agree with those saying that they’re trying to trade Senzel for Lindor. That would make a ton of sense. I think it’d be hard to get him. As for the proposed-elsewhere trade of Anderson for Senzel, I think Anderson is going to be a stud in the same timeframe that Senzel starts playing like it as well, and Anderson would have more control, so I’d rather hold onto Anderson. Plus, I’d rather be searching for a Senzel than an Anderson.

  10. Alex, thanks for linking that article on the CTE doctor. When I have some time to think critically, I’m really looking forward to reading it.

    Are you thinking that some of the sentiments surrounding CTE are potentially over-inflated? I couldn’t help but think that the CTE discussion was unduly minimized in the Aaron Hernandez documentary. Perhaps those are orange-and-blue-covered glasses on, but Hernandez struck me as a bad person with a bad upbringing that was woefully enabled who also had a brain that wasn’t acting straight. And his brain not acting straight may have given him delusions, paranoia, and aggression that pushed him over the edge to start blasting fools.

  11. As someone who loves outfield defense and took pride in being a good defensive outfielder when I attempted to play baseball unconvincingly, going from Ender, Acuna in RF, and Markakis/Duvall in LF to Ozuna, Acuna in CF, and Soler will make me vomit.

  12. If Statcast is truly the stat to pay attention to now (and word is it’s the one most MLB teams utilize), Soler is much better than perceived and Ozuna, who UZR/150 & DRS valued well in 2019, is much, much worse. Honestly, I’d believe that after seeing a lot of Ozuna’s defensive miscues this past year.

  13. Ramirez would be awesome, I just don’t see the Indians trading him for at least the next year or two unless they go full tear down. He’s very cheap for the next 4 years and they still have a strong team but likely won’t win that division in the foreseeable future. But maybe if they sneak into the WC they can go far in the playoffs with that rotation.

  14. @13, I don’t think the article is suggesting that CTE is overblown. It’s suggesting that Omalu, who has risen to fame on raising public awareness of CTE, has been overhyping it because he’s basically made a personal business model out of it. There are a lot of other brain scientists and medical professionals who study CTE and they all seem to think he’s been saying things that go way unsupportably beyond the medical consensus, and he allegedly keeps on claiming to have “discovered” CTE, which isn’t true.

    (Disclosure: I interviewed Omalu almost a decade ago for a piece I wrote on the then-new concussion DL. He has long been a very prominent figure in sports brain injury. But this article suggests that the amount of money he’s been able to make — $900,000 last year, seemingly all of it via his $10,000-an-appearance specialty as a courtroom expert witness — has presented a moral hazard.)

  15. That’s essentially Braden Shewmake and Freddie Tarnok for 2 years of a reasonably priced Marte. I realize we would have had to trade Ender if we had done this but the upgrade seems nice

  16. I would have also liked Marte, but he’s been my guy for the outfield since the beginning of the offseason. With that said, Ozuna is really good too, and it says AA might be trying to do the same thing the Dodgers and Astros have done where they have a couple-few multi-positional guys (Camargo and Riley) and lots of OFs to plug-and-play and make it all work.

  17. Anyone interested in catching the home opener this year? Would love to meet some of the people I talk to nearly everyday.

  18. I just don’t get free time before April 15th or I’d love to give it a shot. Usually get to a couple games in June.

  19. @27 We are planning on going to the Saturday game on our way home to Michigan from Florida but I don’t think I can pull off Friday since we still have the condo in Siesta Key and it will be like pulling teeth to get my wife to leave a day early

  20. This thread might be up all day or could change at lunch. Feel free to comment without the threat of being JC’d.

  21. The Braves have a lineup built to destroy LHPs. Unfortunately, there are only 3 projected LH SPs in the other 4 NL East teams. #SadFace

  22. Am I having a Rob Copenhaver moment, or is Joey Wentz the best prospect we’ve traded since AA has taken over? I can’t think of anyone else besides Allard.

  23. As for Opening Day, I would love to, but I’m going to London that week. But I would love to do a Braves Journal mid-season(ish) day or something like that. That’d be a lot of fun. The Twitter people do their thing, and it’d be fun to do a Braves Journal one with some of the guys on the periphery of Braves Journal like the podcasters and guest contributors. That’d be great.

    I know Chief’s reading, so if you wanna come out buddy, the first round’s on me.

  24. @37, you may be right, though that’s probably partly because the Coppy-era penalties partly froze out our ability to add new talent into the system, so our existing prospects were immediately worth comparatively more to us than they were to any other team.

  25. @37 Rob, darn close if not correct. The prospect traded who was once the highest rated might be Lucas Sims. But of prospects we would deem “highly prized”, I think Wentz and Allard are at the top.

  26. @AAR
    Qith Patreon, that’s something we are doing for sure as benefits for a patron at $10/month comes with a free Braves Journal game experience. Just have to pick a date. As Snowshine is a patron (hat tip to you, my boy!), we will have to wait until mid-season.

    Let’s continue to brainstorm dateand I’ll get the tickets for all of us, but for the Patrons, it’s free!!!

  27. When Allard was traded, he was outside of the top-10 on most lists.
    Wentz was right around there too. AA has most definitely done a great job holding on to trade chips but I think 2020 is the time to trade a few, whether it be before or mid-season.

  28. @42, Ryan — totally agreed. So here’s a suggestion for a poll: of the Braves’ current top 5 prospects, how many of them would you be willing for the Braves to trade away this year? And if the answer is not “all five,” who do you view as untouchable and why?

  29. @ 43 and 44,

    I see it is up, but I don’t know how to answer. It depends on what you get.

    I think a lot of vultures are trying to sit around the carcass of the Braves 40 man and pick up some meat that isn’t quite rotten. Like, as many teams as need catching, why hasn’t somebody offered a decent trade for one of our 3 essentially ML ready catchers. Also, with the excess pitching, where are the offers?

    Specific to Top 5, that is Pache, Anderson, Waters, Wright, and then sensibilities vary. With Ozuna, Markakis, and Duvall gone in a year, I think you have to hold Pache and Waters and figure you have a 90% chance to end up with at least 1 credible 2 WAR outfielder at the beginning of 2021.

    And then, what can you get when trading our top 5 guys and how bad are they needed. Sure, THEORETICALLY, a true number 1 starter would be big. But do you see one of those? A really good 3B makes this year’s team better. A really good catcher makes us better, but where do you find that?

  30. I chose 2 — either Waters OR Pache and either Anderson OR Wilson OR Wright. We need to keep 2 of the 3 pitchers to get a decent shot at one panning out as a #3 or better.

  31. I also chose 2…and I’m closer to 1 than to 3.

    Would love to have a crystal ball that shows me the best player Waters + Wilson can get.

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