Courtesy of @SlmSolo via Twiter

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

Braves MLB Free Agent Signings Under Alex Anthopoulos: Breakdown of Each Signing

Anibal Sanchez

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.

Peter Bourjos

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.

Ryan Flaherty

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.

Jose Bautista

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.

Luke Jackson

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.

Lane adams

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.

Josh Donaldson

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.

Brian McCann

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.

Nick Markakis

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.

Josh Tomlin

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.

Dallas Keuchel

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

Adeiny Hechavarria

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.

Francisco Cervelli

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.

Final Tally

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.