Looking for a Future Braves Left Fielder

2018 Topps Chrome Update Rookie Debut Austin Meadows Rookie Baseball C –  Elevate Sports Cards

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.

What’s Left?

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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:

  1. Bryan Reynolds
  2. Daulton Varsho
  3. 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:

  1. Jake McCarthy
  2. Alek Thomas

Who’s Left?

Now that the list of 10 has been narrowed down to 5, let’s gauge the fit.

  1. Anthony Santander: A thumper, but a horrible fielder. Braves already have Eddie Rosario. Sorry Santander fans.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

Author: Ryan Cothran

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

65 thoughts on “Looking for a Future Braves Left Fielder”

  1. I think Fried wants to pitch on the West Coast and if the opportunity presents itself to grab Carlos Rodon and get a MASSIVE haul for Fried, you can do it.

    Being the team rep for MLB, Fried is likely pressured to not sign a team-friendly deal and trading him makes sense if it lands several studs (as it should).

  2. I’m not sure why anyone would expect the Braves to be in on Rodon if they’re not in a shortstop. Every indication we’ve had is that they don’t intend to invest in top-end free agents.

    Short of some complex scenario where Fried goes for a prospect package which is then partially or totally flipped for a real shortstop solution, I don’t see any way in which trading Fried makes sense. It’s a long-term value move for a team that should be accumulating as much short-term value as it can manage.

  3. Weve exhausted our trade chips .. any trades now to get anyone worth anything would be parting with a starter already and Grissom .. which we cant since we have no SS … all the talk about Braves gonna spend .. looks like pipe dream now .. free agent outfielders Conforto and Benintendi may be best bets .. then deal with SS .. Grissom or Andrus since Braves arent gonna give Dansy 25 mil a yr ..and Im not sure they should .. now if we were talking Turner, Correa or Bogearts Id say yea ..but Dansby is going on a 1 yr explosion .. I wonder why hes not off market ..other teams are thinking exact same ..so which team either gambles or do they all come back down to the 20 mil a year area …

  4. You probably should have thrown Shuster into the pitchers we could move. Not that it makes much difference but he’s certainly got more value as a trade piece than Allard. Trade Travis to save money and assume Dansby’s going to walk I’d assume Benintendi is signable with the scratch we’ve got left. No? I’d rather use our money that way and see who of Anderson, Elder, Soroka, Shuster can make the roster as a fifth starter. Go with Benintendi, Harris II, Acuna, Olson, Albies, Grissom, Riley, Murphy with Arcia, Ozuna, Murphy, Grissom spot starting as DH.

  5. Love the Meadows idea. He should be cheap in trade as well. Getting him out of Detroit would do wonders, imo.

  6. If they played Ozuna last year I’m having a hard time seeing how they wouldn’t also give him an extremely long leash this next season. There might be a universe where he’s productive in 2023, just not sure if it’s the one we’re in.

  7. I adore post-hype sleepers as a general category, and AA likes them too. I’d love to try to fix Adell.

    On the other hand, and I’m aware this seems completely contradictory of the above, but I cannot express how much I don’t want Max Kepler. The Twinkies have a frightening track record of failing to maximize the abilities of their prime outfield hitting prospects, very much including Eddie Rosario, as well as Orlando’s older brother Oswaldo Arcia, and Miguel Sano, (and if you really want, you could also include Aaron Hicks), and now Kepler, the guy many people thought was the most complete package.

    The most striking thing about Kepler is just how much he underachieves his tools. Even statheads have finally cooled on him, though for years he was kind of like a Ricky Nolasco: a deafening difference between his loud components and mediocre results. There might be an alternate universe in which he had a successful career in majors after growing on the farm of ballclub that does a better job of developing power hitters — like the Cardinals, Dodgers, or Astros — but that is not and never has been Minnesota.

    Now he’s nearly 30 and he is who he is: a corner outfielder with a career triple slash of .232/.317/.427. If he can be had for Eddie Rosario’s salary, sure, I guess. I mostly just irrationally don’t like him after years of watching him underperform on my fantasy teams.

  8. The best time to release Ozuna was the day after Manfred refrained from suspending him. The second-best time is now.

    They won’t, though.

  9. Well timed article. Just went to my barber and he said to bank on the following:

    Braves Get: Oswald Peraza, Brian Reynolds
    NYY Get: Fried, Braden Shewmake and Ozuna
    Pitt Gets: Jasson Domínguez and Jared Shuster

  10. As it stands now, according to depth chart WAR predictions, FG has the Braves as the third best team in the majors. 2nd best pitching and 8th best hitting. They peg Grissom as a perfectly cromulent SS (not sure I believe yet). The only room for improvement is LF. A couple of WAR there and the Braves would be the highest rated team – and that’s without Dansby. If we pick up a couple of tenths in the relief corps, the Braves would have the best pitching staff.

    Obviously, there are still some chips to fall (like Rodon and Correa and Dansby for that matter).

    I am not really liking Smitty’s barber’s notion. I agree with whoever said that an ace is the hardest commodity to find. If you have one, you hang on for everything you’re worth.

  11. @12 I certainly feel like AA’s moves have not scintillated this off-season in the way to which I have grown accustomed.

    This trade seemed like trying too hard, like trying to force an improvement where there was nothing good to be had. Maybe this was the best AA could do?

  12. I agree Nathan, yes an improvement, but so incremental almost to who cares, or is Murphys arm so good that it will keep the guys from running wild in 2 years when the rules change again?

  13. @12. This is exactly how I feel. I can squint and see the logic behind the Murphy trade, but I will not forgive them if they panic deal Max.

  14. I’d go for McCarthy as he can play all three outfield positions, giving Harris and Acuna some days off, and his hitting isn’t awful. He’s young enough to hope the bat improves a bit, and the outfield defence can be really good with him in LF. We can also matchup a bit and have all LHers with Rosario in left.
    He looks the least expensive of the Arizona outfielders to acquire, but not sure what they’d want for him. I wouldn’t include Grissom in a trade, he looks the one position player prospect we need to hang on to.

  15. I love Smitty’s trade. The Braves are still a pitching rich team and, as Bill James noted way back in the ’82 Abstract (I think that was the year): you always trade a good pitcher for an equivalent position player.

  16. Correa 13/$350 MM from the Giants, with the money that was burning a hole in their pocket from the Judge pursuit.

  17. I don’t think it’ll even be the money at this point. AA will walk away from the sheer amount of years. Someone is going to give him 8 years or more. Definitely should walk away. It’s a shame we don’t have a Jeremy Peña in the wings.

  18. This wild, man. Now, they seem to think inflation isn’t going anywhere, and maybe us common folk should listen and act accordingly.

  19. The weird thing is that Correa’s annual salary is “only” $26 million a year, which feels, if anything, like an underpay. (If you’d told me before the offseason that he was going to be making $40 million next year, I would have been surprised but not shocked.) It’s only the length of the contract that’s truly hair-raising.

    I am perfectly sympathetic to not wanting to invest in Swanson on that kind of level, but I will be less so if Plan B isn’t particularly good. It’s not like Swanson’s free agency was a big surprise or anything, and even if you don’t like his odds to repeat his walk year, it’s still production that needs to be replaced somehow.

  20. I had a similar thought, Rob. Though I think that it’s possible to ascribe this behavior to uncertainty about the economy in general, not just expectation that current levels of inflation are here to stay — I’m imagining that the uncertainty in the economy is leading a lot of these rich people to factor in a high discount rate for the net present value of money. How much is a million bucks of 2032 money worth to them? Probably not a lot.

    (That’s your bat-signal, JonathanF!)

    The only world in which someone pays Dansby $200 million is one in which they decide to spread it over 10 years. As many have said, it’s a way of deferring money that allows them to keep AAVs artificially lower. Of course, it also makes every free agent deal into the Bobby Bonilla deal, and I agree with everyone who says that all of this is silly, but the logic of signing Dansby is the same as it’s always been.

    Of course, as I was thinking the other day — it’s the same as the logic as back when I wanted us to pay Michael Bourn, too. Scarred by the memory of the hideously bad performance of Josh Anderson, I wanted us to keep the bird in the hand. Then he signed a contract with Cleveland and turned into a pumpkin pretty quickly; instead, we signed B.J. Upton, who turned into a pumpkin even faster. Free agents are risky.

    But so is getting into a situation where your strategic plan consists of holding your breath and crossing your fingers.

  21. Why on Earth would THIS team as it is currently constituted even contemplate trading Max Fried unless it was for a superstar SS and even that would be iffy given the performance of MLB SPs?

    That would be incredibly dumb.

    Frankly, it seems catastrophically stupid to even say that given the wild success that the Braves have had, although I should add that much like ‘The Run’, they’ve won one WS and merely been very good in the other years…

  22. I think you have to at least feel the market out. He’s unlikely to be around after he reaches free agency. If someone out there wants to blow you away, do it, but I wouldn’t do it for anything less.

  23. Fried is not going to be a Brave after he hits FA – and he will definitely hit FA since he’s our union rep, right? Just need to deal with it. The question at hand is whether you try to salvage some of his value while he’s still under control. A rebuilding team would definitely do that. A team that intends to make the playoffs would be crazy to even consider it. Plus, the return in any deal isn’t going to blow anyone away because there’s no way the team on the other side knows if they can sign him either. It doesn’t even make sense to discuss this (to me at least … but I guess stranger things have happened).

  24. Freeman at $160 for six years looks like a steal at this point. Overpaying for his bat versus potentially overpaying for a shortstop so dependent on his legs would have been the move.

  25. Being a union rep does not necessarily mean you go to free agency and hunt for the biggest deal. Brandon Crawford and Alex Gordon both jump to mind as union reps who took less to remain single-team guys.

    That being said, the trend for the AA Braves has certainly been that anyone who makes it to free agency leaves. AA doesn’t seem to haggle.

  26. Why not just resign Duvall? Platoon him if left with Rosario.

    Duvall must be like the least-talked-about 30HR-Gold Glove guy in all of baseball.

  27. @33: his approach to free agency seems to be, “Here’s our offer. Have your agent call when you accept it.”

  28. If the Braves could get the following for Fried, they would have to consider it:

    -An above average, team controlled shortstop. Could we get Dansby pre-2022 for arbitration prices?
    -A 4th or 5th starter
    -A top 100 prospect
    -Hopefully more

    At the end of the day, while I would never jinx us into saying we have a surplus (I still remember 2014), we do have something resembling a position of strength in the rotation, especially compared to the rest of the league. We have 7 guys that might very well lay claim to 5 spots. Some teams (including us, at times) have even utilized openers when we didn’t have 5 starting pitchers. So if you were to tried an established, really good player, it would be Max Fried.

  29. Let me say, too, even back when I thought every Braves prospect was gonna hit (y’all, Dian Toscano is gonna be an All-Star), I had a healthy fear of Max Fried. Tall, skinny, blisters, etc. He has held up remarkably well, but selling high right now isn’t crazy.

  30. Not sure if it’s ok to cut and paste whole paragraphs from other sites, but I found this from Bill James’s site to be amazing:

    “When I joined the Red Sox…(JamesD note: in 2003), I was sort of shocked to learn that they had been operating without a budget. I probably should not tell you this, but it’s been 20 years, so maybe it should get out. The ex-GM literally did not know how much money he had committed the organization to spend in 2005 or 2006 or any other future year. He hadn’t kept track of it. He was operating on blind faith that the organization would find the money somewhere. ”

    James also said that by the time he left the Red Sox in 2019, the GM operated with six or eight (possibly exaggerating) different budgets that he didn’t fully understand, including a cash flow budget, a luxury tax budget, a present value budget, etc.

  31. @36 — Are there any teams at all who have that kind of depth, are willing to deal it away, and want a top-of-the-rotation starter with limited team control remaining?

    I don’t doubt that there’s some fantasy scenario you could cook up where trading Fried made too much sense to not do, but I think most of the realistic possibilities just make you worse in 2023 and 2024 (aka, the Braves’ window) in exchange for possibly not losing quite so much in 2025 and beyond. And that’s not where the Braves are or should be.

    Maximize your players’ value by winning another ring with them, not by trading them for guys who might someday help you win a ring.

  32. Are there any teams at all who have that kind of depth, are willing to deal it away, and want a top-of-the-rotation starter with limited team control remaining?

    No idea, but you only need one team. And I agree it’s a wishlist; you don’t have to get exactly that. But the point is that you can fill a lot of needs in the short- and long-term by trading Fried. I disagree with you that we would be worse in the short-term if we did that.

  33. The real dumb decision (which was not all AA’s fault) was not signing Freeman last offseason. Kip is correct @32. Had we signed him, we would obviously be losing Dansby right now, but it wouldn’t feel like we were losing the entire spine of our team in two years’ time. But now, here we are.

    And I know some folks just look at it as WAR in and WAR out or whatever, but this team is probably losing it’s de facto team captain in each of the last two offseasons, which doesn’t strike me as a way to maintain a World Series championship team. Does refusing to sign these guys to long-term contracts make it somewhat less likely there’s a fire sale-tanking sequence in the distant future? I guess. But it’s not worth tearing out the heart of a championship team.

    Now to be clear, the next few years will be a different team which won’t necessarily be worse. But it seems like an awful risk to take when you know that what you had worked and don’t know that what you’re gonna have will.

  34. Might be able to get Erick Aybar and a young pitcher for Fried. Or Casey Kotchman. Trade market sucks. Look what Oakland got for their best player.

    Personally I’d rather keep the ace and take the high draft pick when he leaves. (is that still a thing?)

  35. @36, unfortunately, GMs are in a major prospect-hoarding phase. Totally agree with @42 — the Montas trade was pretty striking. For an organization selling everything that’s worth anything, the A’s sure have not gotten a whole lot of blue chips back.

    Like I said the other day, if you want to think about the possible return for Max Fried, just look at the return the Nats got for Max Scherzer AND an extra year’s rental of Trea Turner:

    • Keibert Ruiz, a good catching prospect who had been lapped in the Dodgers’ system and who now looks like an empty-average, low-power, 2-win guy
    • Josiah Gray, a pretty good pitching prospect who now has a major league ERA over five and looks like a back-end starter
    • Donovan Casey and Gerardo Carillo, prospects in Double-A who never made a top 100 prospects list. Casey was not listed on the summer 2022 Fangraphs ranking of the Nats’ top 29 prospects, but was still listed as being “of note”; Carillo was left off the list altogether.

    If we trade a rental of Max Fried, the return will be disappointingly ordinary. The value that he will provide on the field to our team will be worth vastly more in today’s trade market.

  36. With Fried in the rotation we remain a WS competitor in 23 and 24. That is enough to stop all this trade talk to me. This team is in a win now position.
    I am really amazed at how much mileage a throwaway line from one journalist has gotten these last couple days.

  37. Then I have overstated the potential return, and I no longer believe what I said. Consider it stricken!

  38. In theory, you are right Rob. Trade Fried to fill gaps and do some restocking of farm system. We’d still be a formidable team, maybe even more formidable.

    But, as others note, you can’t do that if no one will fill those gaps for you, and a few C+/B- prospects aren’t worth trading Fried. So, the right play imo is to pitch Fried for the next two years and hope we win a title during that period. Then, see where we are at as a team. It might be time then to start trading some of the mainstays of the team like Ozzie and Acuna because their contracts will look so good to other teams. Or we might still be in a window that allows us to keep rolling…

  39. IMO, you’d only do a Fried trade if you were getting a young stud SS who’s a no doubt talent, plus more.

    I want to make it clear. It is not my opinion that Fried should be traded, but if AA thinks he can upgrade at SS, get 2 or more extra pieces, AND can sign Rodon, AA would definitely consider it.

  40. I don’t think our pitching is so super-deep. Morton is old. Strider is a complete wildcard. 2 years of Fried has to be more valuable to us than almost anything out there. If you’re looking for clickbait-ish trade hypotheticals that might actually give you a huge return – then trade Acuna. (i’ll show myself out…)

  41. I am not sure what folks here think a good team is. Again, as it stands now FG thinks the Braves are the third best team in the majors. Even if we do nothing. Granted FG is presuming Ozzie returns to form and Grissom is a good replacement for Dansby. But it still leaves open the possibility of a real breakout from Olson and reborn performances from Rosario and/or Ozuna and a big season from Acuna. There is no reason to tear anything down or to go out of the way to make improvements. In fact, quite the opposite. Of course, I’d like to see us sign Dansby and get a LF improvement but it’s not dire if we don’t. This team – as currently constructed – is capable of beating anyone at any time.

  42. I just had a thought… I wonder if there’s a theoretical cumulative war that would make a title almost certain.

    IOW, a sliding scale whereby if you added up every player on the 26 man roster’s projected WAR, that that would yield an N% chance of winning a title, and what that total would need to be to be say, a 95% + chance of winning a title.

    You see this in the Scottish Premier League in Soccer with Celtic and Rangers, pretty much yearly.

    If you don’t follow futbol, about 10 years ago, Rangers went into administration and in the SPL that means you go to the lowest level there. I think for two years, they didn’t lose a match, because the stadium was so large, players didn’t really want to leave even playing in the 3rd division. It was a fascinating thing to happen.

    It would be like if the Yankees went down to play an entire season in A ball.

    This is how my brain works… Conversely, how low would your pcWAR have to be to have 0% chance of winning a title. Because I’m sure even the Marlins or As or insert crappy team, have an unzero chance of winning a title.

  43. @49 Might you take a look at the rotations of other teams? Like I said, you have playoff teams using openers because they don’t have 5 starters. Having 7 really good names is the definition of depth.

    But yes, the names get really, really bad after those 7, I grant.

  44. I think you could approach the 100% chance to make the playoffs (Dodgers have been there for a while), but winning the WS keeps getting harder and harder. I’m wondering how long we’ll have to wait before the NL team with the best record makes and wins the WS.

  45. This guy really did not like the Murphy trade… for the A’s. He also expresses the same bewilderment that that Milwaukee was able to get Contreras.

  46. @52, are you putting guys like Bryce Elder and Mike Soroka in your fab-7? I think you take Fried off this team and we’d be in danger of missing the playoffs. It’s not that he or anyone is untradable, you just have to have a plan to fill his role. I don’t see how we could possibly do that right now given our farm and given the lack of available FAs. That said, if you just had to buy or rent a player and overpay on the open market, I think a top-line starter on a one or two year deal is the best use of funds. Verlander sure has been worth it (hoping that stops right about now though).

  47. It’s the offseason, so I can post whatever the hell I want, and I know Ryan was a John Prine fan, and I think others were on here too.

    My brother sent me John Prine’s “That’s The Way That the World Goes ‘Round”, and I remembered that Miranda Lambert had a rockier cover of it some years back, if you’re interested:

    So then I went down the rabbit hole and found “Hello In There”, and, well, someone started cutting onions:

    But then I finished it off with a great time:

    That guy could write some music.

  48. @55 I believe Soroka when he said he was fully healthy, his arm was tired, and he shut it down so he could have a normal offseason.

    Elder had 0.8 fWAR in 9 starts. He’s a perfectly good 7th starter option.

    Also, I’ve gotten pretty bullish about someone coming out of nowhere, ala Strider, Harris, and Grissom last year. Jared Shuster is not young; a 24-year old first round pick is not a bad 8th starter option. I know we’re in Win Now Mode(TM), but are you going to keep him in AAA all year if he’s pitching well?

  49. @56, I think you might collect 0.4 WAR if you only pitched against the Marlins. If we have a bunch of dudes that can make spot starts that’s fine by me. I think we’re gonna need them. Even better if we can use them in some final-tweaking / deadline deals.

  50. This article was the best explanation that I could find, of the “utility player” from Milwaukee and how he was the key to the trade for the A’s.

    https://theathletic.com/3996795/2022/12/13/inside-trade-murphy-contreras-ruiz/

    Couple key paragraphs:
    “Two separate occurrences helped the deal come together, according to sources familiar with the discussions. The first was the Cardinals’ pivot away from Murphy to sign Contreras’ older brother, Willson Contreras, to a four-year, $87.5 million free-agent contract. The second was the Braves’ willingness to send William Contreras to the Brewers so they could access center fielder Esteury Ruiz, a player whom the A’s had identified to clubs as one they wanted for Murphy.

    Ruiz, who turns 24 on Feb. 15, was part of the Brewers’ return for Josh Hader at the trade deadline. His arrival in Oakland could jeopardize the future of Cristian Pache, another player the A’s acquired in the Olson trade. Ruiz finished the season with a .447 on-base percentage in 541 plate appearances at Double A and Triple A. He also stole 85 bases in 99 attempts, and should benefit from the new rules baseball is introducing to enhance base stealing in 2023 — bigger bases, pickoff and step-off limits, a pitch clock.”

    BTW I get nothing for this but I find my Athletic subscription to be well worth it, for good in-depth articles for the teams that I follow. They are running a deal right now for $1.99 for the first month.

  51. Yeah, so the convo went something like this:
    A’s: “I need four MLB players for Murphy.”
    B’s: “How about Pina, Contreras, Muller and Tarnok?”
    A’s: “But I don’t want Contreras. How about Grissom?”
    B’s: “He’s busy with Wash right now. Sure you don’t want Contreras?”
    A’s: “Nah. OK, we’ll take any outfielder you got with some promise.”
    B’s: “Sorry. We’re fresh out of those. Hold on… I’ve got the Brewers on the other line….”

  52. There’s a world of difference between “guy I feel comfortable with as the seventh starter” and “guy I feel comfortable with starting a playoff game.” Bryce Elder is in one category, but not the other… It’s one thing to say you’re seven deep, but not all depth is created equal.

    There’s a mindset that if a guy gets to free agency without being either traded or extended, his team has “wasted” him, let him go for nothing. But that’s only true if you don’t win with him. The value the guy has to his team is, well, valuable.

  53. @61, I agree with the second paragraph but not sure about the first. I can’t think of a single “seventh starter” who I’d want anywhere close to starting a playoff game. In the playoffs, you’ve got your top three guys making as many starts as possible, and your number four starter is kind of an as-needed spot starter. To me, the definition of a number 5 starter is “a guy who shouldn’t be starting for us in the playoffs.” Would you disagree?

  54. @63 — I made have worded that poorly, but I completely agree. Bryce Elder is wonderful depth if what you need is to make up a few innings here and there when Charlie Morton strains his hamstring in July or Kyle Wright misses a start due to flulike symptoms or Spencer Strider has an off night and gets chased in the second. But that doesn’t mean you can trade the guy at the top, move everyone up a slot, and lose nothing.

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