What if Atlanta Needed to Add an Outfielder?

What if Atlanta Needed to Add an Outfielder?

All off-season we’ve been discussing ideas on how to get Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis off this roster. Because their cost exceeds their value, this is obviously a tricky exercise. We came up with elaborate trade ideas, we crowd-sourced it to you guys for you to come up with solutions, we sent money, we included prospects, or sometimes, we adhered to the sunk-cost principle and said just cut them. I’ve frankly had about all I can take talking about how to get rid of them. We’ve turned over every stone there is to turn. That horse died weeks ago.

Gloriously, this post isn’t concerned with making that happen. Nope, today we get to make a large, magnificent assumption: they’re gone. Don’t know how, don’t care. This post is being written as if five minutes ago, both players were moved and moves need to be made.

The easy, and probably accurate, assumption is top prospect Ronald Acuna will fill the void in RF. Exactly when that will happen is a topic for another post, but even if it’s not until June, it’s not like Atlanta is going to rush out and make a big move for a right-fielder. They’d likely just go with internal options until he’s ready to go. What that means is, as of right now in our dream world, the Braves need to find themselves one more outfielder to play left field.

So we’re going to look at some early candidates. There’s obviously way too many possibilities for this to be an exhaustive list, so while our situation is still hypothetical, we’ll just going through some of the more logical choices. Also, don’t put in any stock in the order I put these guys. This isn’t a ranking.

The easiest solution is always to just sign a replacement so we’ll look at free agents first.

Lorenzo Cain

Cain is far and away the best OF on the market and arguably the best position player overall. His defense is still plus and he more than holds his own with the bat given how many runs he saves with the glove. But being the best also means the most expensive. Cain is expected to get somewhere around 4/$70M and it’s possible Atlanta balks at that kind of contract. It’d be an impressive group to watch though. One can only dream of a Cain-Ender-Acuna outfield. Not sure anything would touch the ground.

Jay Bruce

Bruce makes some sense just because he’d add some pop to the lineup and the fact that he’s LH works a little better with the pieces in place. But Bruce is a butcher defensively and new Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos has already stated one of the primary goals is improving the defense. Now, technically, Bruce would be an improvement over Kemp in the outfield but so would a basketball goal. I think Anthopoulos is looking for a more substantial improvement defensively than replacing Matt Kemp with Jay Bruce.

Jarrod Dyson

As I was writing, I tweeted out to you guys to send me names of players you thought would be interesting for LF. You guys were awesome in your responses, as I got way more names then even I had considered, but there was one glaring omission. Not one person mentioned Jarrod Dyson. I get it, LF is traditionally a power position and a speed/defense/base-running guy doesn’t exactly get the blood pumping. But value is value. It’s a zero-sum game and saving a run is exactly the same as knocking one in. Dyson brings value, projected around 2 WAR for 2018, and a perfectly reasonable price tag around 2/$18M. AA clearly loves defense and a move like this wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Carlos Gonzalez 

The tweet I sent out wasn’t a poll question and I really wasn’t keeping score, but Cargo was easily the most mentioned, which surprised me a bit. I think fans associate Gonzalez with his name, his swing, and the player he used to be more than the player he actually is today. Some might not realize, away from Coors Field, he’s a league average hitter at best. Combine that with below average, declining defense, and there are probably better options out there. With that being said though, he’s still projected at 1 WAR for 2018 and that’s still an upgrade for Atlanta. I’m guessing he takes a 1 year deal to regain some value so a 1/$10M contract seems reasonable.

Cameron Maybin

Maybin would be a 1000x more interesting to me if he could figure out how to hit the ball in the air. Of course, he’d also be more interesting to every one else. But even at his current version, he’s playable. The cost would be quite low and there’s value in elite base-running. He would probably work best as half a platoon if you can find a LH counterpart. Estimations I saw had him signing for around $7M.

Other potential FA targets: Carlos Gomez, Jon Jay

If Atlanta doesn’t find anything that interest them in the FA market, the next logical solution is a trade. Here are some possible trade targets.

Khris Davis, OAK

When we we’re trying to build playoff teams for 2018 earlier this off-season, Davis was a guy I targeted. And for good reason. Davis is a 2-2.5 Win player who could probably be had rather affordably. The A’s are notorious for having the tightest payroll in baseball and Davis’ arbitration number this year is going to be into 8 digits. Oakland could surprise people and actually pay him that, but a trade is certainly possible, if not plausible. Braves also had one of the lowest HR totals in MLB last year so Davis and his 43 bombs would instantly improve that.

Yasiel Puig LAD

Puig’s name seems to come up every off-season for one reason or another, but lost in all the negatives about him is the fact that he’s a really good player. Wonder how many people realize he put up a 3 WAR season last year? You can be sure Anthopoulos knows, spending the last couple of years with the Dodgers. LA has an elite OF prospect in Alex Verdugo coming up soon, so naturally there’s been speculation that Puig could be moved. I’d take him in a heartbeat. Don’t know what the cost would be, but I trust AA to make a sound deal if it’s there.

The Marlins Boys

Derek Jeter and his new team, the Marlins, hold the key to entire off-season in their hands. Obviously, the big headline right now is Giancarlo Stanton and where he’s going to go but even after that is settled, there will be some big chips still left in Miami. Namely the other two outfielders, Christian Yelich and Marcel Ozuna. The prospect cost of landing these guys would be extremely high but so would the benefit of adding either one to your team. Both project to be 4 WAR players in 2018 and both have the fire power to hit in the middle of your order. Given the choice, I’d prefer Yelich simply because of how cheaply he’s signed through 2022 but I’m not picky. Either instantly takes your team to another level and with Miami reportedly looking to shed payroll, I wouldn’t rule it out.

Jackie Bradley BOS

The player and the team most linked to each other this off-season has been Boston and J.D. Martinez. Boston had one of the lower home-run totals in baseball last year and Martinez would obviously help. For the money their going to pay to get him, Martinez is going to play everyday and likely in LF. That means one of the Betts/Bradley/Benetendi trio would likely be moved with people speculating it would be Bradley. As we’ve already stated a few times, Anthopoulos wants to improve the defense and the OF is the quickest way to do that. A bit like the Cain/Ender/Acuna dream from earlier, a Bradley/Ender/Acuna OF would arguably be just as good. At least defensively. As to cost, that’s going to depend on what else Boston does this off-season and what they need for 2018. I will say, they’ve basically gutted their farm the last couple years with trades and could potentially look to build it back up a bit. The Braves would, of course, be natural fit in that scenario having one of the best farm systems in baseball.

Other trade targets: Ian Happ, Colby Rasmus, Stephen Piscotty, Derek Fisher

Rule 5 guys

Jason Martin was a big topic of conversation in our rule 5 articles and if you look up his numbers, it’s easy to see why. Martin posted a 121 wRC+ in AA last year with an impressive .210 ISO so he could be an option for Atlanta. Another possibility is Jose Cardona who played for the Rangers AA club last year. The bat doesn’t blow you away but he controls the strike zone and plays first rate defense in the outfield.

Other Rule 5 targets: Kyle Wren, Franmil Reyes, Jacob Hannemann


Were Kemp and Markakis actually to be moved, we’d obviously go more in depth. This is just a primer. Anyone you’d like better?


While I’m not interested in using our best prospects to acquire hitters right now, I believe that Khris Davis would not cost very much to get. One or two mid-level prospects (similar to what we gave up to get Jaime Garcia last year from The Cardinals).

However given that we’re trying to build a playoff team around our young pitching, signing Lorenzo Cain as a Free Agent would make sense. An outfield of Cain, Inciarte and Acuna in the outfield…wow!

Domingo Santana.

Brewers can move him if they please. Keon Broxton over to right, Lewis Brinson slots into CF and Braun stays over in left.

Brewers need pitching. I’ve theorized Mike Foltynewicz and a reliever in the past, but growing to become “okay” with the idea of moving Teheran for Santana as the more research I do on him makes me feel comfortable that the breakout is more a product of him figuring things out than flukishly running into a bunch of homeruns.

As a side note.

Colby Rasmus is a free agent. He played part of the year in Tampa and then left the team for personal reasons (spend more time with family is the logical conclusion). There’s been rumors that he’s decided to retire.

Meh, you can solve this problem by doing a bad contract swap for Trumbo. Kemp +$8M plus Sims and Blair for Trumbo. Have you seen Trumbo’s numbers when he’s not DH’ing? They will open your eyes. The O’s essentially get Sims and Blair for $8M plus the ML minimum. They should make that deal. Then you can get rid of Markakis for whatever. Trumbo has the additional bonus of backing up Freeman at 1B. Trumbo has every bit the potential of matching K. Davis’ 43 HRs. Trumbo is incapable of DH’ing and Kemp should be more effective as a DH.

I realize that you didn’t put JD Martinez on the list because it’s highly unlikely we would be able to sign him, but I would still list JD as a better OFer than Cain. Defensively no, but he really needs to be a LFer than a RFer.

I’m going to assume under this scenario that the Braves are also going to wait on Austin Riley to develop, because the more I read, the more it seems that’s what they’re inclined to do. With that in mind, the name that jumps out at me, that I’ve seen suggested multiple places elsewhere, is Christian Yelich.

He’d be a good fit because Atlanta would be getting four years of team control, and he’d add another left-handed bat to the middle of the order. If you look at the Adam Eaton deal last offseason, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a loose framework for a deal either. Maybe something like…

Braves Trade: RHP Mike Sororka & LHP Joey Wentz
Marlins Trade: OF Christian Yelich & 3B Martin Prado

The Nationals had to give up two top pitching prospects for Eaton, so I figure it costs the Braves at least one. So I’m equating the Braves taking on all of the Prado deal to the Nats giving up Giolito, Sororka to Reynaldo Lopez, and Wentz to Dane Dunning. Maybe it’s still light, but you could always include Cristian Pache, if need be, since the Braves OF would be set for years.

King….while getting both Yelich and Prado would help The Braves in 2018….there is NO WAY I want to give up BOTH Soroka AND Wentz to get them.

What Washington gave up to get Eaton….PALES in comparison to Soroka and Wentz. I’m not really sold on Giolito panning out….and both Lopez and Dunning are NO WHERE near the caliber of Soroka and Wentz.

I really think that Soroka should be OFF THE TABLE/UNTOUCHABLE. He’s got Greg Maddux 2.0 written all over him. 20 years old and the command of his pitches that he has. While I’ve been subscribing to The MLB online package for years…last year I added on the MILB option just to follow Ronald Acuna (in the process I got to watch Soroka pitch a number of games online, and was BLOWN AWAY by his composure/command on the mound). I will once again add the MILB part to my MLB package SPECIFICALLY to watch Soroka pitch in 2018 (will check out other Braves prospects when warranted, but Soroka is a joy to watch, just like Acuna was in 2017).

If The Braves were indeed a Yelich and Prado away from seriously contending for a championship….then ‘maybe’ I’d consider a deal where I gave up Wentz (along with a couple of others like Touisant and Muller). But NO WAY do I give up BOTH Soroka AND Wentz!

However, The Braves will not be competing for The Playoffs in 2018. Sure, in theory, anything can happen…but realistically 2019 is where we should aim for! 2018 should be about giving our young guys PLENTY of opportunities to show us if they are THE REAL DEALS (depending on what happens in the 1st half of 2018…whether injuries/ineffectiveness, or, in the cases of Teheran and Folty, if one/both of them shine/excel to the point of generating potential deadline trade interest, then The Braves may have a spot or two in the rotation IF Soroka and Allard both show at Triple A that their dominance of Double A in 2017 was no fluke)!

Please be patient dude! One more year…and if things progress as I feel like they can…The Braves will be HELLA POSITIONED to start another 15 year run of playoff success (maybe with more than the 1 Title we won in 1995). Regardless of how things play out in future Playoffs…I so much would LOVE to recapture the feeling as a Braves fan that we had during those years..that come Opening Day, we were LOCKS to make The Playoffs! Such a nice feeling, year after year, to not have to worry about ‘making The Playoffs’ (as opposed to how most fans had to sweat out even making The Playoffs, year after year).

I feel that this time around, The Braves will do a much better job of not only constructing a roster that is designed for Playoff Success…but also get a manager who can better ‘manage’ in The Playoffs than what we had with Bobby Cox (who made TOO MANY CRUCIAL MISTAKES in The Playoffs). Cox’s last playoff mistake (pulling a young Craig Kimbrel out/bringing in Mike Dunn to face Aubrey Huff…..classic example of Cox’s playoff ineptitude. Screw Dunn’s experience..Kimbrel’s stuff was filthy…I seriously doubt that Huff was ‘worried’ about the lefty-lefty matchup VS having to face Kimbrel’s NASTY slider/blazing fastball)!

I’m not saying I’d be anxious to deal either Sororka or Wentz either, but you’d have to give something to get something- especially within the division, where the Fish would also be facing Yelich umpteen times a year. Yelich would be the guy I’d want if the Braves needed an OF, though. So I tried to match up guys on the Nationals top 30 list with ours, and that’s as close as I could come. Don’t forget, Giolito also showed very well in limited big league action last season.

I hear what you’re saying though about patience, and I’m actually not an impatient person. In this hypothetical scenario, however, the author has asked a question about a team where the dynamic has drastically changed. The team would have young talent, flexibility… and possibly a legit WC shot. So it’s at that point, if I were GM, you’d surely be unhappy with me; because I’d be going full Jerry DiPoto with this deal, and probably handing out one massive contract to a FA SP too. Lol.

I can’t see a way both Kemp and Markakis are getting moved this offseason though in a way that makes any sense for the Braves, so I’m fine with another year of collecting a top 10 pick, if that’s how the chips fall.

King….I’ve stated this before, I feel that Markakis is probably gone before Spring Training (the only way we have both Markakis and Kemp on Opening Day..is if our GM wants to delay Ronald Acuna’s Free Agent clock…by keeping him in The Minors for the 1st two weeks of The 2018 Season, Acuna would have almost 3 seasons of making The MLB Minimum, followed by 4 seasons of arbitration, one of which would be as a Super 2..making him a Free Agent after The 2024 Season. If he’s on The Opening Day roster, he’s a Free Agent after The 2023 Season).

Other than that, I expect Markakis to be traded soon to open a spot for Acuna in The Opening Day lineup…..then how much of Kemp’s 2019 salary that The Braves end up eating will be determined by how he performs/his health during The 2018 Season (he’ll either be traded to an AL team in need of a power hitting DH or cut after The 2018 Season). Either way…Kemp WILL NOT be on The Braves Roster when The 2018 Free Agent Offseason begins!

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