2019 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Matt Joyce

Back at the end of the regular season, I wrote a little about Matt Joyce‘s year. You can find it here:

Joyce played a much larger role than anyone envisioned due to injuries and ineffectiveness of the other options, appearing in 129 regular season games (starting 39) and all 5 NLDS games (starting 3). During the regular season, he slashed .295/.408/.450 over 238 PA, beating his career averages in AVG and OBP by over 50 points and with a slight increase in SLG. Unfortunately he was part of the middle-of-the-order problem in the NLDS, going 1 for 10 (a single) with one walk.

Overall, he was far more useful than anyone except maybe his own family would have predicted, and he didn’t cost much ($1.25M). However, he’s a 35-year old free agent in 2020, and you have to expect his offensive performance will regress towards his career norms (which are nothing special), and he’s never been a great defender. I’d guess that Duvall will take his spot and we won’t see Joyce back on a major league deal with the Braves next year. So Matt, thanks for 2019 and best of luck in 2020.

Author: Kirk H.

Kirk H. is a long-time reader of and occasional contributor to Braves Journal who after all these years is still in possession of most of his faculties. Don't follow him on Twitter (or elsewhere, as that would be kind of creepy).

46 thoughts on “2019 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Matt Joyce”

  1. I went through Steamer and looked at some projections and can throw this out.

    WAR groups

    Donaldson 4.7
    Flowers 1.5 (adjusted down from 2.3 based on playing time)
    Castro 1.7 (at playing time from last year)
    Total 7.9

    Moustakas 2.8
    Grandal 4.0 (adjusted down from 4.8 based on playing time, now way he plays 140 games)
    Flowers 1.2 (adjusted down based on playing time)
    Total 8.0

    When you add back the pick and slot value for JD, then it actually is a better plan to do the latter option. I think one of these 2 plans ought to be the (non pitching part of the) plan.

  2. @2

    So in terms of dollars would JD+Castro > Grandal/Moose? Or less? I’m thinking it would be a bit lower to resign Josh and ink Castro to a 2 year deal than to acquire the Brewers.

    Then you have to subtract the comp pick we wouldn’t be getting from losing Donaldson. But, I’ve been saying since August to give Donaldson All The Money, so why stop now?

    All. Of. It.

  3. @ 3,

    Applying Kiley’s estimates

    Group 1

    JD 24 3 years
    Castro 6 2 years

    total 30

    Group 2

    Moose 16 2 years
    Grandal 17 4 years

    total 33

    So, pretty even on dollars and pretty even on WAR.

    If Flowers gets hurt, you are much better off if you got Grandal. We could bring up somebody or find somebody to cover a 1 / 4th usage as backup catcher a lot easier than finding an above average bat for a catcher who hits from the left side with a good defensive profile.

    I think Kiley is low on JD’s numbers. That may be the single player he is most low on. I think he is more like 3 for 27 or 3 for 25 with a vesting option for 20 (decline-able by player) if he is at 1500 PA’s in the first 3 years.

  4. @2, @3, @4, @5 We do not want to replace. We want to improve. I believe we need 1-2 ADDITIONAL 4+ WAR players. Swapping JD for Grandal just gets us back to even. We need to sign both. Then add a 4 WAR pitcher by trade (i.e. a Jon Gray type).

    All the talk about a Lindor trade is very interesting too. If we were to go with one of the above two plans then trade for Lindor and Jon Gray, that would work too.

    It is not good enough to be as good as last year. We did not win the WS last year. We have to be better.

  5. @2 Having sat through those terrible rebuild years, I have zero interest in comp picks. I want Donaldson back, and I don’t care about the price. Priority 1 needs to be winning.

    Moose is solid, but he’s not the player Donaldson is.

  6. @6 I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, Roger. I’d choose another pitcher over Gray, but philosophically speaking I’m onboard with what you’re saying.

    I’m also intrigued by the idea of a Lindor trade, if it could be done without dealing Ian Anderson.

  7. @6 – Louder for the people in the back, Roger! Completely agree the team needs to replace the talent leaving AND add some more to boot.

    Fact remains that the 2019 Braves were a lot closer in talent to the Cardinals than to the Astros or Nationals.

  8. Wonder if this means they’re putting Newk in the rotation. Can never have enough lefties in the pen though.

    Smith, Melancon, Greene, Newk, O’Day, Jackson. Dang.

  9. Braves lose a pick. So those worried the Braves will prioritize picks over signings, at least for now, can sigh.

  10. @10 You have a point. The real issue is that the Nats talent was concentrated and maximized for a short series. Over the long haul of a season, they had holes they could not hide. Top to bottom the Nats were not as good as either the Dodgers or the Braves. When they can throw Scherzer and Strasburg at you twice each in a short series, they are much more formidable. A lot of the Braves wins came against the Fedde’s and Ross’ of the world. Any win against Max/Stras was likely built on banging the bullpen.

    As I mentioned in a prior post, the Nats had 6 4+ WAR players according to B-Ref. The Braves had 5. Three of the Nats’ 4 WAR players were pitchers and Corbin was mostly moved to the pen for the playoffs. We need to bring in a #1/#2 type pitcher along with keeping Donaldson. If we can add a guy like Grandal or Lindor, too, our lineup will be as deep as the Dodgers. If either Max or Folty step up to the next level, we can compete with the Nats’ rotation. Then we’ll be ready to compete for a championship.

  11. I’m a little leery about getting yet another reliever that doesn’t have elite stuff (below average reliever velocity, curveball spin rate quite bad), but he racks up the K’s: 13.2/9 last year was a career high.

  12. I guess I should delete my last post, huh….

    My reaction is also WOW.

    Smith was worth only 2 WAR according to B-Ref so this signing is barely par for the money. That does not sound like the traditional “value” proposition.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m going to love having Smith around, but it just seems totally out of character based on recent years. I wonder if that means AA has an idea how to jettison Melancon’s salary.

    What I hope it does NOT mean is that they intend to cash in on the Donaldson pick.

  13. Braves got about $37M this year tied up in the back 3 of their bullpen. Yikes.

    And surprise to no one, Donaldson rejects the QO.

    The offseason has started.

  14. I wouldn’t worry about the WAR calculation for Smith; the guy really racked up some WPA.

  15. I’m not crazy about going 3/39 for a closer. Makes me wonder if the Braves think they cant re-sign JD.

  16. I mean, if the Braves think Newk has it figured out, doesnt he actually have better stuff than mad bum moving forward at a much lower cost? I think I’d rather have Smith then madbum

  17. Braves went more years with Smith than competing offers. Smith was prepared to accept the QO if the deal wasn’t long enough.

    Go figure.

  18. @27 That makes sense based upon the Kimbrel fiasco last year. I figured Smith and Odorizzi would be the ones leftover until June and Odorizzi accepted the QO. I should have added Abreu (someone else pointed him out as an acceptance candidate) and, of course, he accepted his QO, too.

    I am shocked like Rob said that the Braves are sinking so much money into the bullpen. I have to believe that AA has a plan to dump Melancon’s salary. Either that or they do not sign one of Grandal or Donaldson.

    This may be pointing to the Grandal/Moustakas plan.

  19. 30 — I don’t think anyone knows who the closer will be. Everyone said Shane Greene was going to close last season after he was traded for.

  20. It’s always exciting to get a good player, such as Smith. I do wonder the path ahead though. Is payroll dramatically increasing? Are they building an elite bullpen at the expense of other areas? Is Melancon about to be moving?

    The only way I dislike this move is if they’re spending Donaldson money because they’re raising the white flag.

    My hope, as some have suggested, is Smith was more affordable than a starter, so Newk shifts back to the rotation with this move.

    Give me Donaldson, Grandal and Smith, and I’ll be a happy fan.

  21. I don’t think they would non-tender Greene after just trading Wentz et al for him. It’d really be something to be 3 months removed from trading Allard and Wentz and having nothing to show for it.

  22. Seems like a wise move to me:

  23. @36 I had that same thought but I wanted Julio’s money to go to Grandal.

    I have to be thinking now that Donaldson’s money will go to Moustakas and Grandal.

  24. Love this move! I’m guessing Chris Martin won’t be back, but at least we have a good bullpen for an entire season. It’ll be interesting to see if they throw some more $ at QO free agents now that the pick is gone.

  25. I mean, if they are actually going to open the wallets and get Donaldson and Grandal along with The Fresh Prince, that would be amazing.

  26. Love that move. The Braves will be going for it next season. They will sign JD.
    All the money (that’s left after signing Smith)!

  27. The depth of our bullpen is truly insane now. Get the starters through 5 with a lead and hand over the the arguably now best bullpen in the MLB.

  28. On his podcast, DOB was really pumping up the idea of the Braves going all in and trading for Lindor. He thinks some kind of package of Pache/Waters, Swanson, Wright, and someone not named Ian Anderson should get it done. He’s got two arb years left and DOB thinks the Braves would have a good shot at extending him, with the selling points being Atlanta’s proximity to his native Puerto Rico and that he’d play the next 7-8 years with Acuna and Albies.

  29. I’ve got more faith in Swanson than coop does (who doesn’t?), but I love the idea of trading for and extending Lindor. Would the Indians do that?

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