End the Narrative, Add to the Legacy: My Braves Wish List

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This is fan-fiction based on needs for the Braves and interest in the past of certain players. If that’s not your bag, no worries.

Braves fans… don’t believe it for a second. Alex Anthopoulos will reach a deal with Freddie Freeman. This piece isn’t about Freddie Freeman, but it is about a narrative that has bothered me for quite some time and that is this: The Braves are cheap.

It’s simply not true. We’ve been told since Liberty Media took over that they are a very hands-off company. That concept seems hard for some. What it means is the Braves are treated as a separate entity, are not influenced by the amount of $ Liberty Media makes or loses. Rather, the Braves and its payroll is only influenced by what the team makes. The evidence was there in 2021.

Coming off of 2020, when there were no fans in the stands, the 2021 payroll money was gobbled up quickly and we saw the Braves shopping at Goodwill for relievers that, for the most part, failed miserably. Fast forward to the trade deadline when the Braves picked up 5 players in Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario, and Richard Rodriguez. How did they grab 5 players 3 of which that were essentially salary dumps? Simple answer… there was money to spend. Why? Because the team had the best attendance in baseball and the Battery was rocking.

Now this isn’t a theory…it’s a stated fact from Terry McGuirk himself and if the Braves don’t open the wallet in 2022, a year in which 3rd and 4th quarter financial gains went through the roof, then your anger as a fan needs to be channeled away from LM and flowed toward McGuirk and others. I’m keeping the faith until proven otherwise.

So this year…a year after the World Series victory in which we are going to get a top-3 baseball player back in Ronald Acuna Jr.in the early parts of the season. No excuses, the Braves should build THAT TEAM right out the gate. For this exercise, I’m going to operate on a $200MM payroll that does NOT include Marcell Ozuna‘s salary. Let’s get to it.

A Look at the Roster, As Is

In the Where Do We Go From Here piece earlier this offseason, I estimated that the Braves will have $125MM committed to about 15 players. For now, I’m just going to make the assumption Marcell Ozuna is sidelined all year, so the number become $109MM for 14 players. Those players:

  1. Charlie Morton
  2. Ronald Acuña Jr (IL)
  3. Ozzie Albies
  4. Will Smith
  5. Travis d’Arnaud
  6. Manny Piña
  7. Dansby Swanson
  8. Max Fried
  9. Adam Duvall
  10. Austin Riley
  11. Luke Jackson
  12. A.J. Minter
  13. Tyler Matzek
  14. Mike Soroka (IL)

From there, one can assume that the Braves will have at least 5 pre-arb guys that will stay on the roster, bumping the total above to $112MM. On top of that, last year’s buyouts are added to the next year’s payroll and those total $5.75MM total, bringing the total payroll to $117.75MM before additions. Let’s now look at the places the Braves could look to improve:

  1. First Baseman
  2. Starting Pitcher
  3. Relief Pitcher (2)
  4. Outfielder (2)
  5. Utility Player (2)

Using MLBTRADERUMORS and giving myself $70MM to spend, I’m going to do my best to fill this team out as a winner. Let’s get to it.

Deal #1, Freddie Freeman, 6/$160MM with club option

Freddie is going to be a Brave and this deal makes him one through 2027. The club option comes in at $25MM with a $10MM buyout.

$45MM to spend.

Deal #2, Seiya Suzuki, 5/$55MM

Suzuki is an OBP and power machine. He’s going to take Atlanta by storm. Cue the “Seiyu Later” puns. If this is the contract, the Braves will have to pay a $10MM posting fee and I’ll tack that onto the first year of salary.

$24MM to spend

Deal #3, Eddie Rosario, 2/15 MM

Rosario was an absolute great fit with the Braves last year and would be a good get on a 2 year contract. That short porch in RF will be mutually beneficial.

$16.5MM to spend.

Deal #4, Joe Kelly, 1/$6MM

If the Braves are going to become the most hated team in the league, let’s make it official by hiring a bonified a-hole in Joe Kelly. The Braves need a RH bullpen arm and he fits.

$10.5MM to spend

Deal #5, Jesse Chavez, 1/$2.5MM

He performed well last year and was a good fit with the guys according to Will Smith. Let’s get him back and give him a raise.

$8MM to spend

Deal #6, Ehire Adrianza, 1/$2MM

The Braves need an all positions player when the DH comes to stay and Ehire is THAT guy.

$6MM to spend

Deal #7, Asdrubal Cabrera, 1/$1.75MM

I love this guy as a switch hitting player that can give Riley or Freeman a day to DH every now and again. He’s also a well liked player and serves as a good bridge been the Latin and American players.

$4.25 MM to spend

Deal #8, Trade for Bryan Reynolds

Braves were REALLY in on him at the deadline last year and they were willing to give up a package that include Cristian Pache and 4 other prospects. I think this gets revisited and if the Braves grab him, it will be for a massive package that includes 4 or 5 guys from this list: Pache, Drew Waters, Tucker Davidson, Huascar Ynoa, William Contreras, Freddy Tarnok, William Woods, Brooks Wilson, and more beyond the 40-man roster. Flags fly forever, baby.

With this roster, the Braves have 5 OFers that could be switched around based on matchup.

Final 26-Man Roster in the Exercise

  1. Bryan Reynolds
  2. Ronald Acuna Jr./li>
  3. Freddie Freeman
  4. Austin Riley
  5. Seiya Suzuki
  6. Ozzie Albies
  7. Eddie Rosario
  8. Travis D’Arnaud
  9. Dansby Swanson

Bench: Manny Piña, Ehire Adrianza, Asdrubal Cabrera, Adam Duvall

Starting Pitchers: Charlie Morton, Max Fried, Ian Anderson, Huascar Ynoa, Tucker Davidson

Relief Pitchers: Tyler Matzek, A.J. Minter, Will Smith, Joe Kelly, Jesse Chavez, Luke Jackson, Spencer Strider, Dylan Lee (lots of combos here, but these are my first 9)

Final Thoughts: Look…I know there are a million combinations and this list won’t happen in its entirety (or maybe none at all), but there are a few things we do know:

  1. Braves DID go after Bryan Reynolds at the trade deadline.
  2. Braves are considered “serious” about Seiya Suzuki
  3. Braves and Jesse Chavez have mutual interest
  4. Eddie Rosario is beloved by the Braves fanbase
  5. Ehire Adrianza was a really good fit.
  6. The Braves need another good RH reliever and Joe Kelly is that.
  7. Freddie wants to stay and wants more $. This gives him more $.
  8. I just like Asdrubal Cabrera. There…I said it.

Author: Ryan Cothran

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

44 thoughts on “End the Narrative, Add to the Legacy: My Braves Wish List”

  1. Hmm. Interesting

    Instant thoughts

    1) No Soler then?

    2) That starting rotation looks one arm light not already within the club given the wait for Soroka and insurance for Morton just in case?

  2. Don’t hate the moves at all, aside from not adding another innings eater guy. I just have zero confidence Soroka comes back at all (hope I am way off) so adding a decent vet to rotation would be ideal I think.

  3. If we sign Suzuki and know Ronald is coming back I would rather trade for a starting pitcher than Reynolds …….and I love Reynolds. Sign Duvall too. I think Ynoa ends up as a reliever.

  4. You cannot possibly, in any such list, exclude Soler.

    Out onto the road, remember?

    Looking a gift horse in the mouth would be the appropriate comment.

  5. This take on Suzuki is stolen without shame from a gent named Enscheff on ChopCountry.com:

    MLBTR compares him to Tsutsugo with a better hit tool, or to a younger Avisail Garcia with upside for more. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2021/…-rankings.html

    FG (namely Eric Longenhagen, the prospect expert) claims he has some trouble with velocity in, and since the average FA in Japan is about 4 mph slower than MLB, that may be exploited.

    ZiPs has him projected at .281/.350/.469 and 2.2 fWAR.

    https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2022-top-50-free-agents/

    I personally don’t see the point in giving a player like that 4-5 years when very similar players are available for lesser deals. However, if they see room for upside, then maybe it’s a good idea. I no longer try to project players without MLB statcast data.

  6. The one thing that really jumps out at me is Rosario. Is that viewed as a reasonable expectation for him? Because that seems quite modest.

  7. @blazon

    I want Soler too, but I’m afraid Ozuna’s situation will remain fuzzy and ya just can’t have both.

  8. Funny. The Braves have had numerous opportunities to pick up Asdrubel but never have. No idea why but I don’t think this year will be any different.

    As to Reynolds, it’s a good pipe dream but I can’t imagine that the Pirates would trade him even for a massive package. We’ve been pining for the massive trade for a few years now and AA has never bit on one. I think after all his experience now, he has left his days of massive trades behind him. AA has been so good at building this team a piece at a time and/or at the deadline.

  9. The Suzuki story just got more interesting as the Braves just acquired his former teammate and good friend, RHP Jay Jackson.

  10. Good post, Ryan C. I wouldn’t be upset at that team composition.
    I want Soler somehow, especially if there is a DH. I wish payroll could make it happen.
    I hadn’t heard about Suzuki having fastball issues; maybe it’s like Riley’s issues with 95+mph. Still slightly concerning.

  11. @12 – I’m not sure what the Braves are looking for in Jay Jackson. He is certainly not a bullpen workhorse. He’s logged 56 major league innings for 3 different teams over 3 years – 2015, 2019 and 2021. He’ll be 34 next year. Anyone have any clue why he is preferable to Lopez, or Edwards, or a plethora of other mediocre bullpen arms? Why couldn’t they have just waited for the wiaver wire?

  12. Kind of a nothing move for Jackson.

    I would prefer Soler over Rosario, but money wise Rosario should be cheaper. I’m sure teams will offer Soler a multi-year deal. MLB traderumors suggest 3/36. I suspect he’ll get more that $12 AAV in whatever deal he signs.

  13. Considering what happened to Kawakami, I would be surprised if any Japanese player signed with Atlanta.

  14. @ 16 – First of all, that was 12 years ago. Secondly, it wasn’t a great fit, but it wasn’t all on Atlanta. Thirdly, Kawakami went back to Japan and didn’t exactly tear it up. Finally, I don’t know if a whole lot of the front office decision makers are still in Atlanta from back then. I don’t really see the Kawakami situation keeping us from signing Suzuki.

  15. I definitely don’t think we are excluded from signing Japanese players. The extra 4 hours of flying vs. playing on the west coast is a more damning thing for us than anything with Kawakami.

  16. When the Braves served Chinese food at the press conference introducing Kawakami to Atlanta, it wasn’t hard to see that the cultural divide was going to be an issue. Then Wren sent him to Mississippi. That didn’t go over so well back home.

  17. What was the story with Kawakami? He was good in 09 and then stunk in 10. I seem to remember them sending him down and never giving him a chance again? Also recall DOB mentioning his sports car(s). Did Wren and Bobby just hate him?

  18. Far as I’ve seen, he’s a corner guy with a great arm. Don’t think he’s seen as a CF.

  19. Suzuki seems very much like an Adam Duvall type fielder and if Braves ran an Acuña, Suzuki, Duvall OF, any of those 3 could play CF (although I’d rather Acuña not) and be fine or better than fine.

  20. @22 I don’t remember all the details, but yeah, he bought a Maseratti as soon as he signed the contract. I don’t see why that is a big deal, I’m sure most players splurge when signing big deals. Heck, our cuban disaster, Oliveras, bought a pimped out car that cost over a million as well.

    Kawakami being sent straight to AA Mississippi when he started struggling instead of gwinnett seemed to be an indicator of something between KK and management.
    I believe I remember him not getting a regular rotation slot, or being used for long relief at irregular intervals, then spot starts with too much or too little days off.

    He never quite reached his highs again when he went back to japan, so maybe he just lost it after the first year.

  21. Well, if it’s a crime to sign a big contract and buy a Maserati then they’d have to lock me up. Because if I signed a huge deal, the first thing I’m doing is heading to the Aston Martin dealership.

    Kawakami may have been a diva, the Braves may have been unprepared to deal with the language barrier, and, more importanty, they may have been completely incompetent with how to help a struggling Japanese pitcher who is transitioning from a completely different style of baseball and also a completely different baseball itself. I don’t think any of those things apply to Suzuki.

    I’m definitely pro-Suzuki. You’re right, everyone, that AA’s type is definitely a three true outcomes hitter.

  22. Since Kawakami was sent to Mississippi, 24 of the 30 major league teams have added at least one Japanese player to their roster. The Mets, Yanks, and Red Sox have each had five or six.

  23. Wander Franco, 12/$223MM from… the Rays.

    The Braves hose Acuna and want to pretend they can’t afford Freeman.

  24. @28 This is just a complete shot in the dark, but I would bet that the bulk of those 6 teams that haven’t signed a Japanese player are on the east coast and are not considered big markets. I would think that the list would include some of Toronto, Pittsburg, Philly, Baltimore, etc.

    I look forward to being 100% wrong again.

  25. The Braves hose Acuna and want to pretend they can’t afford Freeman.

    Well put. And Albies too. He was the real steal.

  26. Kawakami was 7 and 12 with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP in 2009. He had a .260 BA against in 156 innings in 2009.

    Drew Smyly was 11 and 4 with a 4.48 ERA, a 1.37 WHIP, and a .269 BA against in 126 innings this year.

    Wow, if Kawakami only knew how to win like Smyly he could have had a solid career with Atlanta! In all seriousness, Kawakami’s 2010 was brutal. A 5.15 ERA to go along with a 1.49 WHIP won’t cut it very long on any team except the Pirates.

  27. @30 Phillies, Cardinals, Tigers, Rockies, and Nationals.

    Toronto has had four players. Baltimore one. Pittsburgh two.

    Rob, although I think the east coast theory makes good sense on the surface, but I don’t see that pattern. But I do see that four of these five teams are run poorly. Do they just lack the bandwidth to compete in that market? The Cardinals have their shit together so they don’t fit.

  28. The Rockies and Orioles have terrible owners. The Phillies have been badly run, though it’s a little harder to blame the owner, as far as I’ve seen. (The Pirates owner has been horrifically cheap, but mismanagement has arguably been an even bigger problem, for the entire Bonifay and Littlefield eras and the second half of the Huntington era. Like the Phillies, they let some incompetent people stay in the job for way too long.) The Tigers are rebounding after having to pay the piper for some drunken sailor overspending, so I don’t think they’ve been awfully run.

  29. As to Suzuki, I have no idea how his stats in Japan will transfer to MLB. But if he really can be an OBP machine, I’m all for it. I love Ozzie and I really like Dansby, but their on base skills are weak. And Duvall’s OBP is really subpar. The lineup is strong, but I’d love to see more folks with more patience at the plate.

  30. Then I just don’t see any pattern. They just haven’t been interested enough to pursue these players.

  31. @35: me too, T.

    Ozzie is my favorite player; but dang, make them throw strikes, take a walk, swing at hittable pitches. If he ever becomes more selective, Ozzie Albies, already something special, is going to be something really, really special.

    What a great player to be so flawed.

  32. Was messing around on Excel and made the linked-to chart displaying a scatterplot of Braves teams (since 1990) by runs scored per game and runs allowed per game. Nothing too crazy, but was interesting to see how the 2021 Braves slotted pretty closely with the late-streak clubs (2004, 2005), and just how dominant the Braves still were in the late-90s.

    View post on imgur.com

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