Looking around the Braves horn, one could conclude that most of the heavy lifting is done. While the Braves need a shortstop, everything else has been filled, but let’s be real, left field is a real problem.
The infield has Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, and utility player Orlando Arcia. The outfield has Ronald Acuña Jr., Michael Harris, Eddie Rosario and *gulp* Marcell Ozuna. The elephant in the room right now is Vaughn Grissom and how he’ll be utilized.
- Could he be the starting SS?
- Could he be a super-utility allowing players rest?
- Could he be the starting LFer?
If AA decides he can play left field, then this is all moot and I’ve typed way too many words for nothing, but I’m still going to type and I hope you’re going to read.
After expending so much talent Sean Murphy trade, I’m convinced Grissom stays, but the Braves can still afford to part with a pitcher or 3. Utilizing some of the log-jammed SP talent, the Braves could part ways with 2ish SPs that are on the AAA-MLB train and still have several that can shuttle back and forth. That list:
In today’s piece, we will throw out some names of outfielders players that could be had in the scenario, discuss their fit, and gauge the likelihood that AA could meet the asking price.
Left Field Trade Candidates
While the numbers are not wholly accurate and are sometimes wildly variable due to a recent small sample, I’m going to use Baseball Trade Simulator to show the value or each player.
- Bryan Reynolds: Valued at $60MM. Likely, the cream of the crop and one that would be outrageously expensive. Reynolds is a left fielder pretending to be a center fielder, and is under control through 2025. It’s easy to envision a world where the Braves buy out 3 years of arbitration and 3 more years of free agency. If AA is willing to go there, it would take a mountainous haul that would no doubt include Vaughn Grissom and 2-3 pitchers.
- Anthony Santander: Valued at $6.3MM. If a Braves fan was ignorant of the name Anthony Santander and I wanted to provide a useful comp, it would be Eddie Rosario, 2021. He’s a good hitter and horrible fielder. If the Braves wanted to go this route, I wouldn’t be mad, but it seems overkill with the actual Eddie still in a Braves uniform. Santander is controlled through 2024 and likely could be extended without breaking $10MM/year.
- Tyler O’Neill: Valued at $26.1MM. O’Neill had a down year, battling an early season slump likely due to an injured hamstring. When June came around, so did O’Neill and the rest of his season went swimmingly as he carried a .780 OPS with 12 HRs in 250 PAs. He also carries a strong defensive profile and the ability to steal a base or 2 which would fit nicely on this team.
- Alek Thomas: Valued at $29.6MM. Thomas is a 22 y/o OFer that has shot through the minors and had less than desirable numbers at the MLB level last year. There wasn’t much that looked promising from the batted ball profile, but my MILB friends think this dude is the real deal. The D’Backs are rumored to be shopping some young guys and this could be a risk that AA would be willing to make if he were available.
- Austin Meadows: Valued at $2.6MM. A native Atlantan, Meadows had a whole lot of promise when he exploded on the scene in 2019 with 33 HRs and a .922 OPS. Injuries and battles with mental have slowed him down. He’s in Detroit now, where hits go to die. I’m sure he’d like to come home where he’s already a local hero. His 2023 salary is $4.3MM and he has one more year of team control.
- Daulton Varsho Valued at $74.5MM. Wanna talk about flexibility? The dude is catcher, but can also flat get it in the outfield. And while the stick is likely aided by Arizona’s thin air, it’s still a worthy bat and should get better going into his prime.
- Jo Adell: Valued at $1.9MM. Adell, once the most prized prospect in MLB, is pulling his own Andy Marte. He’s absolutely demolished baseballs at every MILB level, but cannot put it together at the MLB level. I’m not sure what’s the reasoning, but I’d love to see Kevin Seitzer get ahold of him.
- Max Kepler: Valued at $5.8MM. Kepler had a monstrous 2019 and has been fairly mediocre since. Still, his Statcast page is blood red and he’s an excellent defender. He’s under contract for $8.5MM and has an option for 2024. If Seitzer can help his swing plane, look out.
- Jake McCarthy: Valued at $29.5MM. McCarthy’s Statcast page, unlike Kepler’s, is a Winter Wonderland, with exception being sprint speed. He has a history of base-thieving and that will likely become a valuable skill once again with giganto bases and other new rules.
- Randy Arozarena: Valued at $53.3MM. Arozarena had a down year in 2022, but was still a worthy player that can hit dingers steal some bases and, as mentioned before, speed will be gaining value with the new rules.
Eliminating the High Ends
The Murphy deal really took some big chips away from the Braves, and while I LOVE Mike Soroka and really want to see him succeed, there’s just not a lot of trade value in the above 6 listed. Any of the guys listed above that are valued at $30MM or more, are not going to be options.
Our first subtractions:
- Bryan Reynolds
- Daulton Varsho
- Randy Arozarena
Eliminating the Wintry Nights
Statcast is great for many reasons, but when we see proven data of players that have very little authority in their bat, there’s nothing in me that says “AA should target THAT guy”. The following players have a Statcast page that looks like a blizzard:
- Jake McCarthy
- Alek Thomas
Now that the list of 10 has been narrowed down to 5, let’s gauge the fit.
- Anthony Santander: A thumper, but a horrible fielder. Braves already have Eddie Rosario. Sorry Santander fans.
- Tyler O’Neill: First and foremost, I can’t imagine the Cardinals would trade him after a down year, but I don’t really see AA trading for a guy like O’Neill when he could sign someone like Adam Duvall at a cheaper rate. It’s an Oh no for O’Neill.
- Austin Meadows: A serious buy-low on a player that has had injury and mental health issues. Hmm…we’ve seen that before and it turned out pretty well. I like this fit…a lot.
- Jo Adell: It’s not like the Angels to give up on what was once the most coveted prospect in baseball. Still, Jo has not endeared himself to fans and could be had for a pitcher that could be inserted into their rotation. I’d rate him the 3rd best fit.
- Max Kepler: Kepler has a lot of great qualities. He hits the ball hard. He doesn’t strike out a lot. He’s a great fielder. All those look great, but it’s never produced anything more than a slightly above average MLBer. However, I believe so much in Seitzer that I could convince myself he’s a better fit than Meadows, but for now, I’ll put him as the 2nd best fit.
Who’s your choice? Let’s hear it, Braves fans!