It’s January 13th. The Mets have placed a bet in Vegas on themselves, the Nationals have added talent, the Padres are trying to best to dethrone the Dodgers, and the Dodgers are still the Dodgers. No doubt about it, the National League is a frickin’ gauntlet and the Braves are still a top team in the league. Yes, the Braves have already made 2 big moves in the signing of Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly, but we know there’s unfinished business. The Braves need at least 1 more big bat and then some complementary additions. It’d be much easier to find that big bat should Rob Manfred just go ahead and ANNOUNCE THE UNIVERSAL DH ALREADY, but he’s a buffoon pretending to be important and we all have to suffer in his buffoonery.
Until further notice, the “big bat” will have to come via a 3B or a LFer. Luckily there are a lot of players that are either free agents or trade candidates that play these positions, but how many are truly that “big bat” and how much would they cost in free agency or via trade. Let’s take a look.
The Top 50 Bats
If you haven’t looked at Fangraphs top offensive players from 2020 yet, as a Braves fan, you definitely should. Donning the top 2 spots in offensive production are Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna. When discussing “big bat”, I’m looking at the Top 50. For now, I’m assuming there’s no DH so only 3B and OF candidates will be considered. I’m also making a fairly large assumption that teams not in the top half of the league will make their players available at the right cost.
1-10: Freddie Freeman, Marcell Ozuna, Juan Soto, Jose Ramirez, Trea Turner, D.J. LeMahieu, Jose Abreu, Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Mike Yastrzemski
Available via Free Agency or Trade: Ozuna, Ramirez, LeMahieu, Yastrzemski
11-20: Fernando Tatis Jr. Ronald Acuna Jr. Dominic Smith, Michael Conforto, Brandon Lowe, Wil Myers, Nelson Cruz, Anthony Rendon, Luke Voit, Bryce Harper
Available via Free Agency or Trade: Lowe
21-30: Paul Goldschmidt, George Springer, Brandon Nimmo, Corey Seager, Teoscar Hernandez, Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Xander Bogaerts, Kyle Tucker
Available via Free Agency or Trade: Springer, Bogaerts
31-40: Mark Canha, Jeimer Candelario, Dansby Swanson, Trevor Story, Kyle Lewis, Cavan Biggio, Ian Happ, Aaron Hicks, Robbie Grossman, Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Available via Free Agency or Trade: Canha, Happ, Candelario, Story
41-50: J.T. Realmuto, Alex Verdugo, Willy Adames, Kole Calhoun, Chris Taylor, Donovan Solano, Kyle Seager, Brian Anderson, A.J. Pollock, Jackie Bradley Jr.
Available via Free Agency or Trade: Realmuto, Adames, Calhoun, Solano, Seager, Anderson, Bradley Jr.
Trade Candidates (with years of control)
Ramirez (3), Yastrzemzki (5), Lowe (6), Bogaerts (6), Canha (1), Happ (3), Candelario (3), Story (1), Adames (4), Calhoun (2), Solano (1), Seager (2), Anderson (3).
MLB Trade Simulator Value for Trade Candidates
Ramirez($72.8MM), Yastrzemski ($58.7MM), Bogaerts ($21.8MM), Canha ($15.1MM), Happ ($28.9MM), Candelario ($19.5MM), Story ($33.7MM), Adames ($38.1MM), Calhoun ($1.4MM), Solano ($0.3MM), Seager ($-9.1MM), Anderson ($32.6MM)
Free Agents and their MLBTR Salary Predictions
Ozuna (4/$72MM), LeMahieu (4/$68MM), Springer (5/$125MM), Realmuto (5/$125MM), Bradley Jr. (2/$16MM).
MLB Trade Simulator Values for Braves Players
To get a sense of who the Braves could trade for and what they could offer, let’s take a look at values for players that could be available via trade. I’ll stop at $5MM.
- Cristian Pache: $69.4MM (no, I don’t think he’s available, but we need to at least list him)
- Drew Waters: $40.9MM
- William Contreras: $20.6MM
- Austin Riley: $19.5MM
- Shea Langeliers: $16.6MM
- Kyle Muller: $12.5MM
- Braden Shewmake: $12.3MM
- Tucker Davidson: $8.3MM
- Michael Harris: $7.6MM
- Kyle Wright: $7.2MM
- Alex Jackson: $7MM
- Bryse Wilson: $6.7MM
- Jared Shuster: $5.3MM
- Jasseel De La Cruz: $5.2MM
Thoughts: As I see it, Drew Waters or Cristian Pache is surplus. It’s highly likely that the Braves stick one of the 2 in CF and the other is trade bait. I think both have talent, but won’t hit enough for a corner OF spot. My money on the person Braves would trade is Waters. I also have a whole lot of faith in Michael Harris so that makes parting with Waters much easier.
Obviously the Braves have surplus in pitching and have 3 studs in Mike Soroka, Max Fried, and Ian Anderson who’ll be in the rotation together for a while. From there though, it’s a collection of talented, but unproven pitchers in Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright, Tucker Davidson, Kyle Muller, Jasseel De La Cruz, Jared Shuster, and others. However, notice the pitcher that holds most weight on this list is Kyle Muller, who hasn’t made his MLB debut, which verifies the thought that trading players before reaching the majors might be risky, but it might be the right play before exposing their flaws to the best players in the world. My guess is the Braves would be willing to listen on Muller, Davidson, and Wilson as well as others that didn’t make this list such as Sean Newcomb and Touki Toussaint.
What Deals Would You Make?
As you can see, there’s only 2 trade candidate that would cost Drew Waters or Cristian Pache and that is Jose Ramirez and Mike Yastrzemski . If you wanted to stretch this exercise to someone like Matt Chapman, he’d also cost one of the Braves top prospects and then some. As you can see, if a team is willing to deal, the Braves don’t have to sell the farm to grab a good player. Yes, we would all love Jose Ramirez, but someone like Jeimer Candelario might be the better fit should Braves go big for a left fielder.
Using this information, let’s build some deals, shall we?
Yastremski is 30. I’m not buying the late breakout esp. at that price. Pass.
I’m coming around on “go ahead and get Ozuna, damn it.” Right now, we are still stuck with Ender and he could be a late game defensive caddy. he will produce as much value that way as any other. Either we swap him for a bad contract or cut him, or get 2 or 3 million worth of use out of him to offset the pay. You are gambling that you can survive one year of his defense and that the universal DH will be in the next CBA. If it isn’t, then you can figure out where to go from there.
I was about to say that Yaz is a hard no for me — he has nearly 3000 PA in the minor leagues with an OPS of .263/.341/.441. I basically didn’t believe in him at all, till I read Dan Szymborski’s piece “Mike Yastrzemski’s Breakout Is (Mostly) Real”.
Obviously, I would’ve felt the exact same way about Jose Bautista; I trust Alex Anthopoulos and his team’s ability to weigh the recency bias better than my lyin’ eyes. Still and all, I’m with @1. Unless he’s cheap, he’s a no for me, and he won’t be cheap enough.
I don’t know how Kyle Wright’s trade value can be so low. He’s a big game pitcher. He pitched in a playoff game. Ahhhhh, ok, fine, I’ll stop.
Yaz might have had an outlier short season in his age-29 season after not being elite for the first 28 years of his life, but he might be a cure for our corner outfield issues.
I’d love Trevor Story, but I’m not sure what to make of Dansby. Did he turn the corner last year, or do you throw it out? Hard to tell.
Agreed, Alex. Springer is the prize for us. Sadly, he’s also the prize for the Mets, who would probably rather spend money than prospects, it seems.
@2 I think we’ll do something with the outfield through trade or free agency, so I don’t think we’re stuck with Ender as a starter. I’d love him as a backup OF. Not my money.
I’d like to get Ian Happ; can play outfield, second base, and third base and has power . Could be a great addition!
Well written, Ryan. I’d forgotten baseball had a commissioner.
I’d love Springer but do not see that happening. Like cliff, I’d sign Ozuna.
I haven’t really thought much about it until recently, but I really like the idea of Candelario. Big time power, switch hitter, carried a bad rep at defense but Statcast seems ok with his work. He’s still young and controlled and would cost about 1/4 of what Ramirez would cost. IMO, he’s a real breakout candidate.
If they traded for Candelario, there’d still be room for that big addition.
The hot stove is somehow slower than Austin Riley’s bat.
@9: well said.
Interesting to me that the trade simulator says that Pache is almost as valuable as three Austin Rileys plus Kyle Muller. If I were a bad AL team with lots of holes, I’d want four(?) years of three Rileys (to try at some combination of 3B, LF, 1B, and DH) and six of Muller rather than six of Pache, figuring that at least one of the Rileys would wind up being as good as or better than Pache. How to phrase this…the expected value of six years of Pache is lots higher than the expected value of four years of Riley, but four years of a best-case Riley (which you have a decent chance of getting from one of your three Rileys) should be worth more than the expected value of six years of Pache. For the Braves, with few holes, Pache is a better bet than trading him for three Riley-equivalents (even if one is a CF), as there’s not much room and not the luxury of putting up with bad-Riley and meh-Riley to get good-Riley.
Pache’s so high because his floor is an average CF bat with out of this world CF defense. The Rays Keirmaier seems a good comp. He collected 18.8 fWAR in 6.5 seasons of control, was paid ~22MM, and was worth $149.3 over that time. Pache has that reputation as a fielder.
#6 has the right idea. Happ is a great fit, but isn’t great against lefties, despite being a switch hitter.
I feel the Braves know something we don’t- for example, you paid Ozuna $18mil? last year to be your LF, there was no DH then, he nearly wins the triple crown. I have to think that either AA doesn’t think he could re-sign him for anywhere near $20mil/3 years, or it would have been done. OR AA simply no longer believes he could play a serviceable LF. Which is it? I am less fearful of re-signing Duvall to play left than I am of the hole in the order Riley will be if he doesn’t start making better contact.
Happ and Contreras
Muller, Newcomb, Toussaint, and Waters