I want to be in this environment': Veteran SS Elvis Andrus joins the  Chicago White Sox for another shot at the playoffs – Chicago Tribune

If you’ve been clicking Braves Journal regularly since 2019, when I took the reins from Rob, you’ll know that I’m a pretty positive person when discussing the works of Alex Anthopoulos. I do think he’s the best GM in baseball and utilizes the power of persuasion through the good ol’ fashioned dollar to lock up core players. As a fan, I admire the desire to keep players around. No one wants to buy a jersey of a dude that could be traded midseason and AA has made it easy for fans to see their favorites yearly and invest in several jerseys knowing said player will be around.

Replacing Freddie Freeman‘s Fanbase

When the Braves traded for Matt Olson, signifying the end of Freddie Freeman, my heart went out to those kids (including my own Murphy Jo) who invested in his jersey thinking he was a Braves lifer. Admittedly, I wasn’t upset. I liked the move for Matt Olson. I figured we’d see an immediate drop in overall production and Olson would be able to produce about 80% of what Freddie could in 2022. And while my guess failed miserably (FF put up 7.1 fWAR and Olson, 3.1), the fact remains that AA let Freddie walk but replaced him with a player that will be around for a decade and should produce enough to endear himself to the fanbase to invest in his jersey. However, let’s be transparent, unless Olson has an MVP season, he’ll always live in the shadow of Freeman for fans that were around for both.

Replacing Dansby Swanson‘s Fanbase

That brings us to Vaughn Grissom. While his smile, hot start in the bigs, and the monstrous dinger that flew out of Fenway made him an immediate fan favorite, his 1.123 peak OPS after 14 games was followed by a league adjustment and a .613 OPS in his last 103 PAs. Like 2022, in 2023 it’s likely that Grissom takes some lumps both offensively and defensively with hopes of quick adjustments and no demotions. This scenario seems the most probable.

And let’s not deny that a significant portion of the fanbase, like Olson with Freddie, will want Grissom to be Dansby. Do Dansby things. Field like Dansby. Lead like Dansby. The expectation for him to supplant Dansby Swanson, mirror Dansby’s career year, and become a force at shortstop out the gate isn’t fair or realistic. Grissom might be able to handle the pressure, but can he adjust to the game? I think so (but I’m not expecting him to be Dansby), but there has to be a backup plan.

Who’s Left?

If Grissom struggles in ST and doesn’t break camp with the team, or if he breaks with the team, struggles, and gets sent back to AAA, Orlando Arcia is next in line. What if that doesn’t work? Who’s next? Braden Shewmake? A panic move like the Robinson Cano trade of 2022? They’re going to need someone else, and for me personally, I’d like to see that person in a Braves uni before Opening Day.

What went down in 2022, with 2B and LF becoming total dumpster fires due to the Ozzie Albies injury, the pure turd that was/is Marcell Ozuna, and Eddie Rosario‘s sight, is surely something that AA would like to avoid in 2023. Right now, there are scenarios that could play out with those 2 positions that won’t need assistance from an injury to become dumpster fires. By grabbing someone that can handle the SS position, at least defensively, in case Grissom needs seasoning. is vital. My personal opinion is Arcia is capable, but I’d rather see another addition.

I’ve talked about it here and on Twitter, and Mark Bowman has discussed it several times, but Elvis Andrus seems like the one guy that makes the most sense. However, if AA signs Andrus, I’m sure the expectation would be that Andrus would start (and receive a starting SS salary) so what happens to Grissom?

This is the dilemma, because AA can’t have it both ways.

*ALSO, this is one of the reasons why having a good super-utility, capable of handling a bat, on a team is sooo important and the Braves have a chance to develop one in Vaughn Grissom, but it doesn’t seem likely at the moment.

If Grissom starts at SS and it doesn’t work out, the Braves will turn to Orlando Arcia. What if Arcia doesn’t work out? 2023 will NOT be 2022 because there isn’t a Grissom or a Michael Harris to save the day. If the Braves want a good backup plan, they’ll have to buy it, not promote it, and buying rarely works midseason. If Grissom falters, Arcia is THE guy, and the people below him in the org are the leftovers of the leftovers and would likely be worse than the mostly horrid list of free agent shortstops.

Speaking of the list…

Scouring the Scraps of the Shortstop Market

I won’t lie to you. This is beyond ugly. I’ll utilize my Baseball Rotten Tomatoes Ratings:

  1. Elvis Andrus (34): 54% on Baseball Tomatoes: “Every bit as confident and slick as its predecessor; but it is hard to ignore a distinct feeling of deflation.
  2. Alcides Escobar (36): 4% on Baseball Tomatoes: “Alcides is looking a bit long in the tooth these days.”
  3. Didi Gregorius (33): 0% on Baseball Tomatoes: “A lot of the time, the people on the field just stand around looking very sad, as if remembering happier days.”
  4. Jose Iglesias (33): 52% on Baseball Tomatoes: “It’s fine. That’s all I got.”
  5. Andrelton Simmons (33): 14% on Baseball Tomatoes: “In the considerable wake of the superb original Andrelton, one dreadful concoction after another has come our way.”
  6. Dee Strange-Gordon (35): 12% on Baseball Tomatoes: “Gordon tries to capture the magic of the original Dee, but though the cast around him remains the same, it feels Strange to see Dee on a diamond.”
  7. Jonathan Villar (32) 16% on Rotten Tomatoes: “It didn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t be this way.”

Of this group, the only 2 that are attractive options are the 2 that will cost an actual MLB salary and I don’t expect AA to give another SS an MLB salary. Out of the other 5, Andrelton can field, but he just doesn’t look like a healthy human right now.

If AA wants a REAL shortstop, he’ll have to pay real money or make a trade and there’s really not much left to trade…

It’s a hard choice and I don’t envy AA’s position.