If you’ve listened to the 3 Flags Flying Podcast, follow me on Twitter, or read here at Braves Journal, you’ll know that there are 2 things that I want to happen before the Braves kick off 2020:
- An Ender Inciarte Trade
- Acquire/Sign a Left-handed bat
In this shortened season, I’ve given up on the first as depth will be vital and the Braves have a lot of it. However, the 2nd bullet is a big need for this club considering the strength of the right-handed pitchers the Braves will be facing this season. Just to name a few:
- Gerrit Cole
- Max Scherzer
- Stephen Strasburg
- Anibal Sanchez
- Jacob deGrom
- Marcus Stroman
- Zack Wheeler
- Aaron Nola
- Jake Arrieta
- Nathan Eovaldi
Today’s piece, “Braves Needs for 2020, Left-handed Bat”, will focus on internal options for the team, free agents, and trade candidates to fill the need.
Braves Needs for 2020, Left-handed Bat: Internal Options
- Yonder Alonso– Alonso last carried an OPS over .800 in 2017, and that is the only time in his career he’s accomplished the feat. At 33 years old, the chances of him hitting enough to be considered the Braves DH against RHP is very low.
- Yangervis Solarte– Solarte had some really good years with San Diego which led to them selling high on him to the Blue Jays when Josh Donaldson injured himself in 2018. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for Solarte and he hasn’t seen much success since. He’s a switch hitter whose splits are favorable from the left side, but he’s also 33 and the chances of him being an impact player are also low.
Braves Needs for 2020, Left-handed Bat: Free Agents
- Scooter Gennett– Well, 2019 was an absolute bust for Gennett, but before that, Gennett put up back to back years of solid power from the LH side. His splits are extreme, but he’s a good stick against RHP…at least he was up until last year.
- Ben Zobrist– While I don’t know if Zobrist will play, even in a down year, Zobrist managed to get on base at a 36% clip. He’s 39 years old and his best years are behind him, but he can still hit. His splits are quite fascinating as he’s actually a power bat when hitting LH, with less average and OBP than RH.
Braves Needs for 2020, Left-handed Bat: Trade Targets
- Dwight Smith, Jr.- Not a sexy option but has good hard contact rates and would cost very little.
- Daniel Vogelbach– Has high barrel rates and hits RHP hard. Would cost more than Smith, Jr., but not much more.
- Jesse Winker– Mashes RHP and could be had as Reds have an OF surplus.
- Gregory Polanco– Not worth what he’s being paid, but is a buy low after shoulder surgery limited his playing time.
- Josh Bell– the cream of the crop here and is an elite hitter with top ranks in barrels, exit velo, and hard hit balls. Under control through 2022.
- Brandon Belt– Don’t like this one, but I guess needed to be listed. Everything’s in decline.
- Ryan McMahon– A candidate I could get behind. His barrel rates, hard hit %, and exit velo is elite yet numbers are pedestrian. Could be ready for a big breakout.
- Kyle Tucker– Until he becomes a regular with the Astros, he’ll be heavy on my target list. A big time stick.
- Josh Reddick– Seems on the path to being Nick Markakis, and there’s worse paths than that. Doesn’t excite me.
My Personal Picks
If Braves were to stay internal with a left-hand bat, I would just roll with what’s already there and leave both Alonso and Solarte in the player pool.
For the free agents, Scooter Gennett would be my pick. While I like what Zobrist brings to the table, the age and lack of power shown last year makes me think that he could be done.
The last list is fun, and while I’d love to land Josh Bell or Kyle Tucker, my pick would be Ryan McMahon. While I don’t know the Rockies price tag on McMahon, I’d assume they’d be ok sending him this way for a few pitching prospects. He comes with control and that’s always good. He’s also not limited to a first base/DH role, and that has value.
Thanks for reading “Braves Needs for 2020, Left-handed Bat”. Check out our entire catalog of 2019-20 Offseason Analysis here.