During the 2018 MLB Offseason, we will be doing an in depth look at each team’s situations for the offseason and offer some insights to what we believe would make sense.
We start off with the NL East, which looks to have one of the more fascinating winters upcoming. With the Phillies, Braves, and Mets all possibly having large spending budgets, the Nationals facing a franchise-altering decision, and the Marlins being… well… the Marlins, it has all the makings of absolute chaos that hasn’t been seen since OJ decided to fire up the ol’ Bronco.
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Departing Free Agents
Top FA Targets:
- Bryce Harper, RF
I have been predicting for 2+ years now that the Braves sign Bryce Harper and I can’t go back on it now. They have money to spend, a window to compete, and need a RF that can boost their offense… Harper checks all those boxes. His bro-mance with Freddie Freeman could prove beneficial as Freeman nears the end of his respective contract, his bat would instantly make Atlanta fans forget about hating him, and his youth would make him about as good of any long-term, big money deal in MLB history. The cherry on top is it will make the Nationals cringe every day as he resumes his potential Hall of Fame career on their divisional rival’s team. Braves GM Anthopoulos loves to make big splashes and it doesn’t get much bigger than this cannon-ball.
- Craig Kimbrel, RP
The Braves need a closer and their old friend is available, fresh off winning a ring.
- Martin Maldonado, C
A defensive-minded catcher (postseason notwithstanding) would be great for a team developing young pitching. If he can steal some strikes and gun down some baserunners, it could help those walk-happy kids avoid some damage.
- David Robertson, RP
A reliable RP that avoids putting runners on base and has some closing experience would fit the Braves needs perfectly. With his age, a 2-3 year deal wouldn’t handcuff the Braves financially if he begins to regress.
- Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B/SS
The Braves got excellent production from Charlie Culberson in 2018, but they can’t expect that to repeat next year. The bench would benefit from an experienced, versatile INF that can actually hit… no offense to Ryan Flaherty, but they need an upgrade. Teams never know what can happen in a long season but depth never hurts.
Top 3 Trade Possibilities:
- OF Cristian Pache, LHP Kolby Allard, and LHP Ricardo Sanchez to San Francisco for LHP Madison Bumgarner
The Giants have to trade MadBum and won’t find much better offers than the ace-needy Braves can offer. MadBum is a country boy and could find himself with an extension in Atlanta. The Giants would be doing well to grab an excellent defensive player (Pache) to cover their enormous outfield, a LHP prospect (Allard) born in California, and a LHP prospect (Sanchez) that could be a solid bullpen piece if starting doesn’t pan out for him.
- LHP Luis Gohara, LHP Kyle Muller, and C William Contreras to the Marlins for C JT Realmuto and INF Martin Prado
It’s no secret the Braves want Realmuto and it’s no secret Jeter is trying to trim payroll to maximize his bonus. The Braves can take advantage of that and give up lower quality prospects in return for taking on Prado’s $15M 2019 salary. Prado is a clubhouse leader that would mesh well with the youth movement and he is still a fan favorite in Atlanta.
- Julio Teheran to San Diego for Hunter Renfroe, Austin Hedges, and Kirby Yates
With Julio Teheran clearly not having a role in the postseason and so many young arms on hand, it’s time to take advantage of a pitching needy team with surplus players you can buy low on. In come the Padres with Hunter Renfroe in a logjam to fill Markakis position, Austin Hedges hits arbitration for the 1st time, and RP Kirby Yates with 2 years of team control left. If you pair Renfroe with a LH bat in RF, say Carlos Gonzalez for example, you have a solid platoon to help an inconsistent offense. Additionally, they add a reliable RP, a good defensive catcher, and boost the bench in the process. For the Padres, they receive a reliable arm that should fit in well in Petco Park at a very reasonable price.
- Braves trade SP Julio Teheran, SP Kevin Gausman, and a Low-A player to the Diamondbacks for SP Zack Greinke and $20M ($10M/yr for 2020 and 2021)
With Teheran and Gausman projected to make about $20.5M in 2019, the Braves could clear 2 spaces in their rotation and add Greinke at a net cost of about $14M in 2019. The Diamondbacks are losing SP Patrick Corbin and may be entering a make-or-break year before Goldschmidt hits free agency himself. Teheran is controlled thru 2020 season and could prove useful trade bait if they are unable to compete in 2019.