When Alex Anthopoulos took over as GM for the Braves on November 13, 2017, he treaded very lightly in terms of signings and trades due to the logistical mess left by John Coppolella. In fact, the only moves he made before the new calendar year weren’t about moving the team forward in production, rather they were financially motivated (Jim Johnson trade/Matt Kemp trade). However, when it did come to the time to sign players, many of the free agent signings, including the buy-lows, worked out quite well. Today’s piece, “Braves MLB Free Agent Signings Under Alex Anthopoulos”, will focus on the signings that occurred in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and the value (or lack thereof) they brought to the team.
Braves MLB Free Agent Signings Under Alex Anthopoulos
- March 16, 2018: Signed Anibal Sanchez as a free agent.
- March 25, 2018: Signed Peter Bourjos as a free agent.
- March 26, 2018: Signed Ryan Flaherty as a free agent.
- April 18, 2018: Signed Jose Bautista as a free agent.
- June 17, 2018: Signed Luke Jackson as a free agent.
- July 16, 2018: Signed Lane Adams as a free agent.
- November 26, 2018: Signed Josh Donaldson as a free agent.
- November 26, 2018: Signed Brian McCann as a free agent.
- January 22, 2019: Signed Nick Markakis as a free agent.
- March 21, 2019: Signed Josh Tomlin as a free agent.
- June 7, 2019: Signed Dallas Keuchel as a free agent.
- August 16, 2019: Signed Adeiny Hechavarria as a free agent.
- August 24, 2019: Signed Francisco Cervelli as a free agent.
Braves MLB Free Agent Signings Under Alex Anthopoulos: Breakdown of Each Signing
Sanchez was signed to a 1MM bounceback deal and bounceback he definitely did. With a newfound cutter, Sanchez pitched 166 innings of 3.63 ERA baseball and collected 2.5 fWAR, worth 22.5MM.
Bourjos signed a 1MM deal to be a 4th outfielder/bench off the bat but didn’t last very long as his plate production was atrocious. He collected -0.1 fWAR, worth -0.7 MM.
Flaherty was signed to a .75MM deal to be a utility infielder/bench bat. He had a miraculous run for the first 18 games of the 2018 season (the team went 11-7) that led to getting him more at-bats than he deserved for the rest of the year, which seems to be a recurring problem amongst Braves managers (Bobby Cox and Keith Lockhart, Fredi Gonzalez and Jose Constanza/Emilio Bonifacio, and Brian Snitker and Ryan Flaherty). He ended up with a -0.4 fWAR, worth -3.1 MM.
Well…I guess Anthopoulos did try to take Flaherty’s (Johan Camargo‘s) job away by signing Bautista to a .55 MM contract. While he never seemed to fit in the clubhouse, it could’ve been a force fit had he produced. Unfortunately, he was predictably bad at 3B after playing it very little in the last decade and his bat was non-existent. He ended up collecting a -0.3 fWAR, worth -2.2 MM before the Braves cut ties with him.
Remember when Luke was awful and was released and was then re-signed like a day later? Re-signed on June 16th, Luke had really impressive numbers for the rest of 2018 with a 3.49 ERA in 28.1 innings, worth 0.5 fWAR for the rest of 2018 and 1.3 fWAR in 2019.
One of my personal favorites and an undervalued Brave, Lane’s 2nd go-around with the Braves was quite a successful short stint as he collected .3 fWAR in only 29 PAs, largely due to exceptional baserunning and an .865 OPS.
We all know the story, Donaldson was signed to a “prove it” 23MM deal and was everything the Braves needed to repeat as division title winners. He collected 4.9 fWAR, worth 39.4 MM.
To retire as a Brave, Brian McCann signed a 1 year/2 million dollar deal. While he was nothing flashy, he carried a league average bat and framing excellence, making that 2MM deal worth 8.9 MM.
After his 4/44 MM deal expired, Markakis re-signed with the Braves for 4MM, which actually turned into 6MM after some re-working by Anthopoulos to work Markakis’s 2020 salary into the budget. Markakis carried a 0.4 fWAR and was worth 2.9 MM in 2019.
After a trip to Driveline to revamp his career, the Braves signed Tomlin to a 1 year 1.25 MM deal. While the Fangraphs value doesn’t show it, he was worth far more than that as he mopped up many innings and had a stellar 0.9 BB/9. He ended with 0.2 fWAR, valued at 1.4 MM.
Signed for 13MM 2 months into the season, Keuchel didn’t put up the numbers the Braves wanted, but gave them 112.2 league average innings. He ended with a 0.8 fWAR worth 6.3 MM
Signed for the stretch as a glove guy, Adeiny’s bat came alive in a Braves uniform as he carried a 1.039 OPS over 70 plate appearances while collecting a 1.2 fWAR.
Just like Hechavarria, Cervelli’s bat looked dead until he put on a Braves uniform where he posted a 1.066 OPS in 37 PAs while collecting 0.5 fWAR.
Just like our series on the rebuild (you can find all 7 pieces here), you can’t judge Anthopoulos’s moves based on 1 transaction as not all of them are going to work out. However, if you take the full package to gauge success or lack thereof, it tells the real story. Here’s the breakdown:
- Anthopoulos spent ~50 MM on Free Agents for the 2018 and 2019 seasons
- The Free Agents collected 13.1 fWAR, a value of 104.6 MM, which comes to 54.6 MM in surplus value.
When the 2020 season starts, we will see pro-rated salaries for Travis d’Arnaud, Chris Martin, Will Smith, Darren O’Day, Cole Hamels, Marcell Ozuna, Adeiny Hechavarria, and likely a few others (Felix Hernandez, etc.). While the sample has worked out overall, Anthopoulos’s real test in Free Agent spending comes in his commitments in 2020 and beyond and we as Braves fans can pray to the baseball gods that they continue working out like they have in the past.
Thanks for reading “Braves MLB Free Agent Signings Under Alex Anthopoulos”. If you enjoyed this piece, check out our coverage of 2019-20’s offseason here.