The 2018-19 Offseason is Upon Us!
Our Atlanta Braves just gave us a season to remember and a glimpse into what the future beholds. Still, the series against the Dodgers showed the flaws in the team and the needs to be filled. Sure, the Braves could go after some big named free agents, but check this out (courtesy of @ScottColeman55):
Free agency is generally far more risk than reward. Just look at last year’s class a year into their deals:
Hosmer: 8/$144M – lmao
Darvish: 6/$126M – yikes
Martinez – 5/$110M – fine if he stays healthy
Upton – 5/$106M – not exactly a bargain
Cain – 5/$80 – hey, a good one!
— Scott Coleman (@scottcoleman55) October 15, 2018
As you can see, if the Braves want to get some of the game’s best players, free agency isn’t the end all be all. There’s obviously trades. However, the Braves are in an interesting position when it comes to trading. While on one hand, they have the internal resources to keep many top end prospects while trading a few, there’s also the international punishments and the lack of a high 1st round pick (hopefully for the foreseeable future) to consider. Yes, Braves have a loaded farm system and trading chips, but no, the Braves cannot be reckless when it comes to trading as the pipeline will be thinning due to graduating prospects but also from the inability to sign and develop top-end talent. This 2nd piece of info might lead the Braves to think creatively in terms of adding talent.
Collecting Turds to pass a 2-year Turd
Last offseason, in order to free up money for 2019, the Braves took on a HUGE chunk of change in a trade that brought Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir to the Braves in exchange for Matt Kemp. While this added ~25 million dollars to 2018’s payroll, it freed the Braves of Kemp’s salary for 2019, which was the point of the trade.
There are funds for sure, and the sum is debatable, but I think we’re going to be looking at ~45 million dollars. That’s a chunk of change, but is it worth committing 35 million of that to 1 player like dripping wet Bryce Harper?
Maybe…but I think Anthopoulos will see things differently. This year, the Braves could take a similar approach to the strategy above, but rather than taking on money to rid themselves of talent, the Braves could take some on to acquire talent. Taking unwanted contracts would lessen the prospect capital the Braves have to send which could prove to be very beneficial for the long run.
Today, I’m going to throw some ideas out there. And while these are my ideas, I don’t agree with or endorse all of them, so BACK OFF! Some of these trades are pretty outlandish and are completely fabricated. However, if the Braves want to take an alternative route to adding talent without huge long-term commitments, this could be a path they choose. And while you may disagree, it’s at least debatable whether this is a more efficient way of adding young talent over free agency.
Of note: The prospects are interchangeable in this exercise. You’ll see a lot of the same names mentioned in each trade proposal but don’t get bent out of shape on the name as it could be a collection of 4-5 guys ranking right around the same on the prospect chart. However, if there are trades to be made, make no mistake the Braves will be trading from their glut of pitching prospects. Also, try not to hyper-focus on the dead $ taken as a deterrent to these deals, especially if said deals come with guys that are under control for multiple years at pre-arb salaries. It’s a balance and is the cost of acquiring talent at peak performance.
Fake Trade Number 1
Breakdown: Greinke is still a top-tier pitcher, but this year, he did not find himself among the elite in production. On average, he’s been a 3.6 fWAR pitcher the past 3 years. While that’s still great and would make him immediately the Braves best starter (or at least top 2), there’s that whole money thing that gets in the way. He’s owed 105MM through 2021, a sum that really puts a hurting on a mid-market payroll, but in this deal the Braves would be ridding themselves of Teheran’s contract, which would pay him 23MM the next 2 years, and they also pick up a very good reliever with a chance to be elite in Archie Bradley and a corner RH OFer with pop. Between adding Peralta, Bradley, and Greinke and subtracting Teheran, the Braves would be adding roughly 35MM in payroll.
Years of control for additions: Greinke (3), Bradley (3), Peralta (2)
Fake Trade Number 2
Royals acquire Julio Teheran, Bryse Wilson, and Austin Riley
Breakdown: Braves take on 24MM of Alex Gordon’s contract then either flip him and eat salary, or have the most expensive 4th OFer in baseball. Merrifield is the real prize here. He’ll be pre-arb in 2019 and comes with the ability to change a game at the top of the order, which would put Acuna as one of the best number 2 hitters in baseball. Adding Gordon to the deal likely decreases the top-end ask by 1 prospect.
Years of control for additions: Gordon (1 w/ option), Merrifield (4)
Fake Trade Number 3
Breakdown: Rangers essentially admitted that the rebuild won’t be over next year, which means players are going to be shopped in exchange for players that meet their extended window (2020 and beyond). Teheran doesn’t fit that
but he’s more of the balance in $ rather than an actual piece (and truth be told, they’d likely flip him). Braves will take on ~20MM in salary, however I think they’d try to flip Choo, eating a good portion of his salary. Mazara and Profar are the prizes here as Profar could be used in super-utility and Mazara becomes the starting LFer. There’s risk in this deal as Profar has injury history and Mazara has been all potential, no polish, but the pedigree is there for both.
Years of control for additions: Choo (2), Mazara (3), Profar (2)
Fake Trade Number 4
Braves acquire Martin Prado and J.T. Realmuto
Marlins acquire Julio Teheran, Bryse Wilson, Kolby Allard, and Cristian Pache
Breakdown: Braves take on ~7MM in salary and get their RH power hitting bat and main catcher in Realmuto, and one of the best clubhouse presences in baseball in Martin Prado.
Years of control for additions: Prado (1), Realmuto (2)
Fake Trade Number 5
Marlins acquire Julio Teheran, Bryse Wilson, Dan Winkler, Kyle Muller, and Austin Riley
Breakdown: Similar to 4, Braves take on Chen’s contract but triple the money. However, along with Realmuto, they grab Anderson, who could either be considered a serious breakout candidate or a 1 year fluke. Anderson’s BB & K-rates are both very healthy and mirror his MILB numbers, and he could see a gradual increase in power through his peak years, of which the Braves would have him under team control.
Years of control for additions: Realmuto (2), Chen (2), Anderson (5)
Fake Trade Number 6
Reds acquire Julio Teheran, Austin Riley, Bryse Wilson,Kolby Allard, and Cristian Pache
Breakdown: Suarez has one of the craziest team-friendly contracts as he’s literally under control for the next 7 years at an average of about 9.5MM/year. Taking on Bailey’s contract (which is 28MM guaranteed) likely takes 2 prospect additions out of the trade, however I’m still not sure it’s enough.
Years of control for additions: Bailey (1), Suarez (7)
Fake Trade Number 7
Breakdown: Braves get their ace but sacrifice prospects. This is the kind of deal that I do not like but could show its head due to the 40-man roster crunch. Personally, these 2 players work my nerves but I realize they’re pretty doggone good. It all works out if Bumgarner decides he wants to play closer to home and signs long-term with the Braves.
Years of control for additions: Bumgarner (1), Melancon (2)
Fake Trade Number 8
Braves acquire some Mets players
Mets acquire some Braves players
Breakdown: I’m not even going to propose a trade between these 2 as there are so many moving parts that could come to fruition that it’s hard to pinpoint what those could be. The Mets, if they decide to rebuild have undesirable contracts in:
Yoenis Cespedes: 2/58.5MM
Jay Bruce: 2/28MM
And the list of desirable players is quite large, which begs the question: Do the Mets rebuild, or do they hope that all of their guys come back healthy and
make a run at the division again? Don’t believe me that they have talent? Look at this list:
Let’s make it known, though…if the Mets do go into a rebuild, decided to sell their talent and rebuild, and are cool with trading inside the division, boy oh boy, there’s talent here that could put the Braves over the top. Ok…I’ll make one proposal:
Braves acquire Brandon Nimmo, Yoenis Cespedes, and Noah Syndergaard.
My Favorite Fake Trade Match
I love the match with the Mets and the fact that Cespedes likely misses most of 2019 could very well make the Mets want to attach his contract to desirable players and move on, and I’d be all over that!
My Least Favorite Fake Trade Match
I really don’t like the match with the Giants. It just feels wrong and doesn’t have the control that I’d like the Braves to seek in a trade of this magnitude.
Hope you enjoyed the piece! What’s your thoughts? Have anymore you’d like to propose?