In an interview with Jeff Schultz via The Athletic, Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos dropped a nice surprise on fans as he said that the team has financially benefitted from being back open at full capacity and ownership has given him the green light to add to the team’s payroll should a real need arise. Luckily for Anthopoulos, there are plenty of needs and the Braves could be adding in all facets of the team. Hopefully the Braves will be recouping some of Marcell Ozuna’s 2021 salary (and beyond) and there could be more than we realize.
Today’s piece will focus on players from American League teams that come with lofty financials that Anthopoulos could find of some interest. Like our last piece, we’re going to be looking at players on teams that would seemingly be ok selling their expiring contracts and/or more expensive players. Those teams are:
- Baltimore Orioles
- Kansas City Royals
- Detroit Tigers
- Minnesota Twins
- Seattle Mariners
- Los Angeles Angels
Since today’s focus will be on players that are making bank, there will be a few teams above that lack any players making back AND performing, but I’ll at least try to make something work.
The Orioles have 1 large contract in the form of Chris Davis. The Braves don’t want Chris Davis. No one wants Chris Davis. However, the Braves might want a few of their other players, namely someone with some control. Trey Mancini is not a perfect fit. He’s essentially Marcell Ozuna in the outfield, but he could become the Braves DH in 2022. Taking the rest of Davis’s $ in 2021, sending back Ender Inciarte and Touki Toussaint, and taking on $8MM in 2022 seems pretty close to an even swap.
Kansas City Royals
You’re not going to want to hear this, Braves fans. Close your ears. Danny Duffy seems like the exact kind of pickup the Braves would make for 2021. Duffy is owed $15.5MM in 2021 and will be a free agent in 2022. He’s carrying a 1.74 ERA and a very healthy stat-line to support his ERA. He’ll not be cheap, even for a rental. However, what if the Braves took on more $ to help out on the cost. A player that’s been attractive in the past but is seriously struggling in 2021 is Jorge Soler. He’ll also be a free agent in 2022. Roughly between the 2, the Braves would be taking on $11MM in salary. In a deal for Duffy and Soler, the Braves could send someone like Kyle Muller and a lottery ticket or 2.
There’s one player on the Tigers whose making real money…about $85MM over the course of the next 3.5 years. Braves aren’t going to be going that deep in the hole to grab talent. However, the Tigers do have some expiring contracts that are attractive, namely Jonathan Schoop. Sorry, we already have a 2-bagger. From there, no one is particularly interesting. One name to keep an eye on would be Michael Fulmer should Detroit choose to sell him with an extra year of control. This doesn’t fit into the narrative above, so I’ll just say to be on the lookout for Fulmer.
I discussed him in my last trade post, and I’ll come back to him again. Josh Donaldson. He’s currently day-to-day with a calf issue. This is a recurring problem for Donaldson and while it’d be risky of the Braves to try and grab him back, it could also be fruitful for both Josh and the Braves considering the likelihood that there’ll be a DH in the NL next year. If the Braves feel like there’s a real chance they’ll recoup most of the money owed to Marcell Ozuna, Donaldson could be a real spark on a team that really needs it. A package built around Drew Waters could work.
It seems like the name Kyle Seager has been on the tips of Braves fans tongues for the last few years. He’s a solid 3B with good power that’s having a down year, most of which seems to be from a poor BABIP (Freddie Freeman says hi). While the Mariners can’t expect anything in return, the Braves could send a few fliers if the M’s can send cash. The one caveat would be next year’s option for Seager, which becomes a player option if he’s traded. Seager would definitely have to waive that or Seattle would just wait until November to do it themselves. This would obviously mean that Austin Riley would have to become a LFer for a bit, but that would be just fine, in my opinion.
Los Angeles Angels
There’s a whole lot to talk about here….
Dylan Bundy is owed ~$9MM. Ender Inciarte is owed ~$9MM. Dylan Bundy will not be an Angel in 2022. Ender Inciarte will not be a Braves in 2022. Dylan Bundy has some value as he was good last year. Ender Inciarte lost his long ago. Braves send Jacob Webb to the Angels to offset the lack of Ender’s value.
Alex Cobb is another target for Anthopoulos as he’s carrying a lackluster ERA with a great K/BB rate. There’s a lot to like here, aka Kevin Gausman 2018. Braves could send someone like Touki Toussaint or Jasseel De La Cruz back to the Angels, but that feels a bit like an overpay (which it might take).
Justin Upton…oh boy. Upton has an .800 OPS. He can still crush baseballs. His Statcast data is strong. He’s a bad fielder. He’s owed a lot of $. He’s under team control for 2022…for $28MM. The Angels would have to be willing to eat a very large chunk of $ for the Braves to bite, starting with Ender Inciarte’s 2021 contract and maybe $10MM in 2022. Gosh, this is tempting. Grabbing both Alex Cobb and Justin Upton and cash, then including Ender Inciarte and a few lesser pitching prospects sure does seem like a good time.
Thanks for reading! Here’s tonight’s lineup. Hope we can repeat yesterday.