Braves Needs for 2020, Left-handed Bat

If you’ve listened to the 3 Flags Flying Podcast, follow me on Twitter, or read here at Braves Journal, you’ll know that there are 2 things that I want to happen before the Braves kick off 2020:

In this shortened season, I’ve given up on the first as depth will be vital and the Braves have a lot of it. However, the 2nd bullet is a big need for this club considering the strength of the right-handed pitchers the Braves will be facing this season. Just to name a few:

Today’s piece, “Braves Needs for 2020, Left-handed Bat”, will focus on internal options for the team, free agents, and trade candidates to fill the need.

Braves Needs for 2020, Left-handed Bat: Internal Options

  • Yonder Alonso– Alonso last carried an OPS over .800 in 2017, and that is the only time in his career he’s accomplished the feat. At 33 years old, the chances of him hitting enough to be considered the Braves DH against RHP is very low.
  • Yangervis Solarte– Solarte had some really good years with San Diego which led to them selling high on him to the Blue Jays when Josh Donaldson injured himself in 2018. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for Solarte and he hasn’t seen much success since. He’s a switch hitter whose splits are favorable from the left side, but he’s also 33 and the chances of him being an impact player are also low.

Braves Needs for 2020, Left-handed Bat: Free Agents

  • Scooter Gennett– Well, 2019 was an absolute bust for Gennett, but before that, Gennett put up back to back years of solid power from the LH side. His splits are extreme, but he’s a good stick against RHP…at least he was up until last year.
  • Ben Zobrist– While I don’t know if Zobrist will play, even in a down year, Zobrist managed to get on base at a 36% clip. He’s 39 years old and his best years are behind him, but he can still hit. His splits are quite fascinating as he’s actually a power bat when hitting LH, with less average and OBP than RH.

Braves Needs for 2020, Left-handed Bat: Trade Targets

  • Dwight Smith, Jr.- Not a sexy option but has good hard contact rates and would cost very little.
  • Daniel Vogelbach– Has high barrel rates and hits RHP hard. Would cost more than Smith, Jr., but not much more.
  • Jesse Winker– Mashes RHP and could be had as Reds have an OF surplus.
  • Gregory Polanco– Not worth what he’s being paid, but is a buy low after shoulder surgery limited his playing time.
  • Josh Bell– the cream of the crop here and is an elite hitter with top ranks in barrels, exit velo, and hard hit balls. Under control through 2022.
  • Brandon Belt– Don’t like this one, but I guess needed to be listed. Everything’s in decline.
  • Ryan McMahon– A candidate I could get behind. His barrel rates, hard hit %, and exit velo is elite yet numbers are pedestrian. Could be ready for a big breakout.
  • Kyle Tucker– Until he becomes a regular with the Astros, he’ll be heavy on my target list. A big time stick.
  • Josh Reddick– Seems on the path to being Nick Markakis, and there’s worse paths than that. Doesn’t excite me.

My Personal Picks

If Braves were to stay internal with a left-hand bat, I would just roll with what’s already there and leave both Alonso and Solarte in the player pool.

For the free agents, Scooter Gennett would be my pick. While I like what Zobrist brings to the table, the age and lack of power shown last year makes me think that he could be done.

The last list is fun, and while I’d love to land Josh Bell or Kyle Tucker, my pick would be Ryan McMahon. While I don’t know the Rockies price tag on McMahon, I’d assume they’d be ok sending him this way for a few pitching prospects. He comes with control and that’s always good. He’s also not limited to a first base/DH role, and that has value.

Thanks for reading “Braves Needs for 2020, Left-handed Bat”. Check out our entire catalog of 2019-20 Offseason Analysis here.

Author: Ryan Cothran

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

63 thoughts on “Braves Needs for 2020, Left-handed Bat”

  1. I asked the experts on Twitter to help me out on teams I might’ve missed. Ben Chase definitely should be filed in the expert category:

  2. I always liked Zobrist, but I feel like he is also very similar to Markakis from the left side at his age. I wouldn’t mind taking a flyer on Gennett but if we could grab Josh Bell or McMahon it would certainly move the needle a lot more.

  3. So is the idea that one of these guys would spell Freddie at first while Freddie moved to DH? Or would we just keep Freddie in the field (along with Ozuna and our other iffier defensive options) and play one of these guys at DH?

    I worry that Winker would cost a starter’s price even though we couldn’t offer him a starting player’s worth of reps. I’d be fine with Vogelbach, who seems tailor-made for a reasonably long career as a platoon hitter.

    No way the Stros move Tucker. They’ve held on to him for too long and had too many opportunities to move him for blue-chip returns.

  4. It’s hard for me to reconcile a need to add a left handed bat simultaneously with a desire to get rid of Ender Inciarte.

  5. Since we can’t post pics here, this is what I revert to.

  6. Have a great holiday weekend. Unless I find some unexpected time, this thread will be up a while. If anyone has something they’d like to write, send me an email.

  7. One of my happiest days each year is the day that pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Today players report to “summer camp.” Although I’m as pleased as anyone that baseball is returning, this is nothing like the same excitement and expectation.

  8. As a fan accustomed to watching great teams lose in the first round, I find excitement trepidatious.

  9. I just hope it doesn’t spread further, now that the test has revealed someone was positive.

  10. Players who have been tweeted about by Bowman as having been throwing/taking BP/working out:


    So I’m assuming they all tested negative.

  11. I’d say 31 positive tests across the league is pretty damn impressive at this juncture given that the players have been spread all over for almost four months.

  12. 31 out of 2100 (I’m assuming they tested all 60 and 10 coaches and others per team) is 1.4%. Currently, the country is testing positive at about 0.8%. So a little higher than the national figure, a little lower if you leave out NY.

  13. @18–true nationally, but the positive rate in some states is much higher than 1.4%.
    And it’s still the case, I think, that most people who are tested only do so because of indication of exposure to someone else who was positive. For the players, everyone is tested.

  14. Wowie:

  15. Given Freddie’s penchant for playing through wrist and elbow injuries that he has no business playing through, I feel like the extent of his symptoms are far worse than the team is letting on if they’re saying he won’t be back for “a while.”

  16. @20 – The game will be on MLB today at 3:00 pm. No word yet if they will show 5 hours of Andy Griffith in the middle of it or not though.

  17. Felix reported and was working out. Interesting. Perhaps he got a taste of the protocols, looked at his bank accounts, and said buh-bye.

  18. @28

    Bingo. I’m waiting for the person who’s in his last year of arbitration looking for big money in the offseason to opt out. Until then, this is rich athletes taking their money and running.

    Which I would totally be doing.

  19. Looks like Newcomb is the leader for the 5th rotation spot.

  20. There wasn’t much fruit on the tree for King Felix. Totally get it. Wonder if he’ll be back next year. He still needs to have the year that he needed to have this year somewhere. Might as will be here again.

    I’ve been on the Sean Newcomb train since November. That tweet feels pretty good.

    Who currently sits as the player who has opted out that his team will miss the most?

  21. No one is saying it, but if I were a pitcher, I’d be as concerned about blowing out an elbow for 1/3 pay as I would be about covid.

  22. I’ve been on the players’ side of it all, but the 114-game proposal was utterly asinine. The players should have been pushing hard on medicals instead of just playing tug-of-war over the number of games and deferring the conversation on medical testing. The 114-game offer was transparently just anchoring high, it was not a credible offer and it really didn’t improve their position.

    However @30 the one thing you have to remember is that 3 weeks ago, it looked like things were getting better. I think that, of the players who have opted out, they have been affected by the massive jump in cases that has happened just in the last couple of weeks.

  23. Hey crew. I’m out of town and this place has no WiFi…at least for now. I could use some help in the writing department, if possible. Shoot me an email if you’ve got an idea.

  24. The Nationals canceling camp today because MLB has yet to return the latest batch of test results, would seem to be a problem.

  25. I recommend not reading the comments under the beat writers on Twitter about Markakis opting out.

  26. I’m waiting for the player who hasn’t already made $100M to opt out. The majority of these guys are walking away from salaries that are peanuts compared to their career earnings. Even the $32M prorated that David Price walked away from is a fairly small percentage of his $200M in career earnings. And he has another $64M owed to him after this season. And he could conceivably play past then.

  27. Joe Ross of the Nationals opted out a few days ago. Fringe player who was in competition for a roster and rotation spot.

  28. Forgot about Joe Ross. I wonder if he thought he wouldn’t crack the roster. He was pretty abysmal last year. He might be a guy towards the end of his career, like the others.

  29. If legitimate players who are in the prime of their careers, making big money, have not already made big money, and have significant individual and team goals start opting out, I’ll get worried.

  30. If Nick Markakis opting out makes you think the season is not going to happen, then you’re probably tipping your hand that you thought the season wasn’t going to happen regardless of what Nick Markakis decided to do.

    I mean, it sucks that some fan favorites won’t play, don’t get me wrong. But until the core of the league starts dropping out, I don’t think this season is going anywhere.

    Seriously, all this over Nick Markakis?

  31. @48

    I get what you’re saying, in that if you were 100 percent (or you know, I guess as low as 90 percent probably) sure this season was gonna happen and then Nick Markakis opting out gave you pause, that’s kind of weird.

    But this did not happen in a vacuum. Things are not trending in a positive direction for the season here. You’ve got teams shutting down workouts because they can’t get tests back, you’ve got a trickle of ever more players opting out and you’ve got the most high-profile player in the league (among other less high profile ones) saying he’s not sure that he’s gonna be in for the season.

    Meanwhile, I don’t think the number of players who have tested positive for the virus is debilitating for the season in and of itself, but in our case, you’ve got our best player and team leader seemingly suffering from at least a moderate case of the virus at present. If more high profile players start coming down with it, that could push more folks to opt out even if the overall percentage numbers aren’t going up. Like, are you super positive that Freeman won’t opt out after this ordeal? Especially if he misses a good chunk of August with his recovery and then having to get up to speed? Because I’m not.

    And we’ve still got three weeks until any games start, with numbers still going up across the country.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say this season is hanging by a thread, but it’s definitely starting to fray.

  32. @48

    It could as easily be said that the threshold of legitimate concern outlined @46 is so high that it sets the stage for an expression of outrage should the season be canceled without meeting it.

  33. If Mike Trout opts out, I could see that unleashing a huge wave of other players also deciding to opt out. And if that wave is big enough, they’ll almost have to cancel the season.

    I honestly think he’s the linchpin of this entire Major League Baseball season.

  34. I will certainly be extremely disappointed if the threshold @46 is not hit and they cancel the season. If they cancel the season because the Nick Markakis’ and Joe Ross’ of the league opt out, then I’ll proactively say that I’ll be outraged.

    I don’t think the owners give a darn about Nick Markakis, nor should they. The guy’s made $120M in his career. Go and live quietly. The owners have a threshold that as long as the game’s most popular, influential, and best players play, I think they’ll continue on.

    Today was definitely a bad news day, for sure, but…. it’s Nick Markakis. Who cares? Also, his risk assessment profile is markedly different than the rest of the league’s. That’s all I’m saying.

    I think you’d have to have a significant number of players at the level of, say, Mike Foltynewicz opt out. Ender Inciarte. Dansby Swanson. Mark Melancon. And a lot of them. The ghosts of Felix Hernandez and Nick Markakis, IMO, aren’t going to steer the rudder in whether there will be a season.

  35. @52: And I suspect Trout knows it, too. He must be under enormous pressure, knowing his importance to the game, but also worrying about the health of his expectant wife.

    @37: I agree with everything Dolittle says in that clip. I loathe the Nats, but man, I’d love to have him on my team.

    Whatever the players decide to do, I’m opting out as a fan. I just can’t enjoy the game under these circumstances. I fervently hope next spring will be different.

  36. Mark, I have a lot of respect for you not watching. Takes discipline and values. Fortunately you’ll only miss a short season.

  37. I wonder how many of these guys are opting out because they know they won’t be ready for the season and don’t want to look stupid? Kakes already noted that a disruption of his routine was a factor.

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