The NL East is looking a whole lot different this winter. Robinson Cano is checking out the other side of New York baseball with Edwin Diaz, who would’ve been the best free agent reliever this side of Craig Kimbrel, as they are set to join the Mets after a blockbuster trade. I’m forced to hate Andrew McCutchen for the second time in a year, in light of his recent deal to join the Phillies. The Marlins still hold onto a disgruntled J.T. Realmuto, which is surprising since they’ve been in fire sale mode since Jeter came to town. The Mets are unfortunately one of the front runners in the scramble to acquire the best offensive catcher in the game. Like Bryce Harper, he’s another huge bat in this year’s young free agents class. The Braves officially brought veteran Brian McCann back home to Atlanta, hoping to provide some invaluable veteran experience to the roster. We all know that the Braves need it since Kurt Suzuki, the braves starter last season, is now with the Nationals. Let’s not forget the Bravos’ acquisition of Josh Donaldson, whose salary was scoffed-at by many. Lot’s of names are still up for grabs. Machado’s seemingly on the move as well. The Phillies have been talked about for Manny or Bryce. I refuse to care about Bryce Harper, even if he’s the belle of this year’s ball. He’s my least favorite player. That’s scary, considering the Philadelphia was already equals with the New York and Atlanta last season. The second and third place teams in the division are certainly stirring the pot, which has forced us to see what the Braves will do to maintain the top spot.
It seems like the Braves have significant ground to make up. Pitching will be their focus for the remainder of this off-season. They need a starter or two and much improvement is desired behind them in the bullpen. Diaz was my favorite closer this free agent class and I’m not sure the Braves plan to fork up the cash for KimbreI… again. Zach Britton would be a good sign, but there aren’t many closers outside of those two that would excite me. Nathan Eovaldi gained a lot of interest from several teams but re-signed with the reigning champs. Randall Delgado is a young player who may be worth some cash. Jeurys Familia would have been solid add as well, but recently signed with the Mets. Foltynewitz, Newcomb, Tehran, and Soroka equal a solid 4-man starting rotation. The Braves need a better version of Anibal Sanchez. He had 7 wins, an ERA below 3, and 135 strikeouts last season. It’s hard to argue for a better 3rd or 4th man in your rotation. I don’t expect the 35-year-old to repeat those stats. What would a starter like Dallas Keuchel do for that rotation? The Braves will likely never know. His teammate Charlie Morton would be a little more frugal sign, but appears to be nearing a deal with the Rays. J.A. Happ would be nice, but the Yankees intend to extend him. New York’s Sonny Gray would be awesome, but I’m not sure the price is right. What would some middle relief help like Andrew Miller or Adam Ottavino do to bolster that bullpen? I think that would be a big step in the right direction. The Braves may be afforded the luxury being content this winter. You never know with Alex Anthopolous at the helm. He’s known for rolling the dice to cultivate immediate success.
Thankfully the Braves are sitting on the largest pool of young talent in the division and maybe all of major league baseball. I think Atlanta will hold onto the grizzled veteran, Tyler Flowers, for now and be done with the catchers this offseason. Camargo was great this year, but who knows his future after the Donaldson trade. I hope they hold onto him too. Some believe they need an outfielder to replace a 35-year-old Nick Markakis. I would like them to hold onto Ender Inciarte. I don’t think the jaws of life could pluck NL ROY Acuna or Albies out of Atlanta. Charlie Culberson has shown some good stuff in limited plate appearances and unfortunately, I don’t think he or Inciarte are off the table. Marwin Gonzales deserves a look, but we may add him to the list of Astros that the Braves cannot afford. Nick Castellanos and A.J. Pollack are great choices to bolster the outfield. Michael Brantley and Daniel Murphy haven proven to have a little left in the tank. Adam Jones or Edwin Jackson might produce some instant offense too. Any would be a good addition most rosters. Maybe even a gamble, in the name of Nelson Cruz, might be justified for the right price. I’d like to see Castellanos or Pollack. Both have been in the whispers of winter.
No matter what the Braves do, they cannot let the members of their farm system leave them in vain. It’s possible that the Braves don’t make much of any splash throughout this off-season. I’m not 100% against that. Why would you be in a hurry to forfeit all your young players? The youth of Atlanta mixed with Freddie and Josh should make for some serviceable batting. The pitching was literally just fine last season. They leave something to be desired, but there are enviable names still in the minors. Atlanta, as-is, could totally compete in the rapidly improving NL East. Atlanta can still compete with the league’s best. I agree with Alex Anthopolous’ being very patient this winter. If the right moves don’t come up, it’s not a necessity they’re made. Maybe they should just take a deep breath and focus on what we do have, instead of what they don’t. Let’s see how the rest of Winter meetings go before you jump to any conclusions about the 2019 season. Until August, there will be a lot of attention around this young franchise. Maybe it’s best to allow that to drive interest towards the club and see what trades are brought to them. Until next time Braves fans, Chop On.