Can the Braves Be 2018 Contenders (Part 1 of 3)

Can the Braves Be 2018 Contenders (Part 1 of 3)

How far are the Braves from competing? Can this year be the year? Can they surprise the world?

There is no answer to these questions – just gut feelings. I don’t do so well with that. Hi, my name is Tommy and I want the whole world quantified.

I’m half-joking, but I did want to take a look over the next few days at how far the Braves are from competing and what are some possible outcomes for the 2018 Atlanta Braves. Now, let me be real to the point – this is a thought exercise. It’s not meant to be a hot take, a fluff piece, or to push an agenda. Instead, what I want to do is to find both a reasonable and optimistic projection of what the 2018 Braves could be. After that, I’ll take a look at what adding players before the season might do. It won’t be a regurgitation of our trio of building playoff contenders for 2018 articles we did earlier in the winter. More of a placeholder discussion with little focus on fitting into a payroll.

So, how do we do this? I’m going to use Steamer projections to provide a baseline, though I will tweak it here-and-there. While Steamer has a reputation for being conservative, it has proven in at least two of the last three seasons to be very accurate. I’m also using Steamer projections because it’s free and available. Most of my tweaks will be due to rookies and playing time. The latter is self-explanatory, but projection systems, as a rule, have a difficult time with rookies and players without enough playing time to do any legitimate estimations.

Our goal is to get to 90 wins. We’ll be using the same system Stephen spoke of in his previous column on building a playoff winner. A replacement team finishing with 0.0 fWAR would finish with, roughly, 46 wins. From there on, each fWAR that is added to the team total gets us a win closer. Get to 44 fWAR, add the 44 wins you need to be a playoff team. It’s a simple idea, I know, but it can work.

As I said, we will look at three versions of the Braves. The first version will be today’s – the Realistic Projection. For this team, we try to stay close to the Steamer projections with just a few tweaks. Our goal today is not to build a winner, but to establish a baseline. Also, note that this team isn’t a Pessimistic Projection. I won’t be doing one of those because contrary to popular belief, I care some about my mental health. Tomorrow, I’ll release the Optimist Projection. With this one, we’ll take the Steamer Projection and add a dash of hope. No, I won’t have ten Braves hitting 75 homers. I will try to stay within the range of possibilities – just focusing on the best possibilities.

In two days, we’ll circle back to today’s team, which I do assume won’t be enough to make it to the magical 44 fWAR we need, and try to add talent to get us there.

At the end of this, what I want to do is provide you and, truthfully, myself a better idea of how close the Braves are to competing for a playoff spot. People often suggest adding this player or this other player will make the team a playoff contender. Is that just hope or is there some facts supporting their statement? Hopefully, at the end of this trio of articles, we’ll all have some idea.

Realistic Team

Catcher

Last year, Braves catchers led baseball with a 5.1 fWAR, but Steamer projects a far modest 2.0 fWAR for 2018. I think that’s a little low and with Tyler Flowers having produced in back-to-back years with the Braves, I’m going to project about 3 fWAR between the two catchers. Individually, give Flowers 2 fWAR and Kurt Suzuki 1 fWAR.

First Base

The conservative projections Steamer provides truly play up here. Even with all of his issues, Freeman posted a 4.5 fWAR in 117 games in 2017. Steamer projects 4.0 fWAR in 146 games in 2018. This will be Freeman’s Age-28 season so I am tempted to set my reasonable expectations high. However, I don’t want to over-do that for the purposes of providing a realistic baseline. With that in mind, I’m going to project another 4.5 fWAR season. I don’t believe Freeman will have much trouble moving past that total, though. Provided, of course, that he stays healthy.

Second Base

The Braves finished tied for tenth last season with a 3.4 fWAR from their second basemen. Steamer projects a very minimal view of Ozzie Albies for 2018, estimating a slash of .267/.325/.408 and a .315 wOBA. I think this is bollocks and I’m not even British. A few reasons for the projection looking so much more pessimistic than the actual production Albies most recently posted – lower walk rates and a lower ISO than recent history. I think the walk rate is fair, but what Steamer doesn’t project is an increased BABIP. Albies only posted a .316 BABIP when he came up last season. That is despite some great rates of hitting the ball hard and elevating the ball. I believe Steamer’s projection is low here.

Again, I don’t want to go crazy – tomorrow’s “Optimistic Team” is for that. That said, even if you factor in a bit of a lower OBP and SLG from his 2017 pace and suggest a .280/.340/.420 line, you’re looking at a 2.6 fWAR player in Josh Harrison going on last year’s results. I still think that’s probably low, but it’s better than the 1.7 fWAR Steamer Projection. We’ll imagine that Charlie Culberson and Johan Camargo also get some playing time, but I’m not going to change my fWAR total for the position because one’s bat might help but the other (namely, Culberson) will hurt.

Shortstop

With the aid of Johan Camargo’s bat, shortstop wasn’t a complete dumpster fire according to fWAR. 1.3 fWAR is in the bottom third, but it was still better than nine other teams. Does Steamer suggest a return to form for Dansby Swanson? A little bit. Steamer gives Swanson a .254/.332/.379 slash for 2018. I’ll stick with their outlook considering the struggles Swanson had last season. I will up his fWAR slightly as Steamer only gives him 130 games and 1.3 fWAR. I’ll push it up to 1.5 fWAR and, again, Culberson and Camargo off-set in my mind as far as the rest of playing time goes.

Third Base

Steamer’s projection included Adonis Garcia and a strict platoon, which gives Rio Ruiz 448 PA. I don’t think that happens and not only because Garcia has signed with Korea. Instead, I’m going to give Camargo/Ruiz/Culberson a 70/20/10 split in playing time. Steamer suggests Camargo will hit .266/.307/.392, but its projection is based a lot on his pre-2017 minor league numbers. I think it’s fair to think his wOBA will come down from .330 as a realistic option. Steamer has it at .299 – I’ll split the difference and predict a .315 wOBA. If that’s right, Yolmer Sanchez of the White Sox last year is a good comparison. He finished with a 2.1 fWAR based largely on his defense. I think that’s fair, though I’ll take Camargo down to 2.0 fWAR.

Ruiz is given a .230/.309/.378 slash and a .298 wOBA by Steamer. Culberson is worse than that. Therefore, I’ll stick with 2.0 fWAR at third base largely because it’s an easy-and-round number. This is possibly the biggest leap of faith I will take with the Realistic Roster considering the Braves had a 0.6 fWAR at third base last year and haven’t reached 2.0 fWAR at third since 2013. But I don’t really consider this an optimistic projection. With Camargo’s defense and a .315 wOBA, along with the bulk of playing time, I think he can be a 2-win player with ease.

Left Field

Here’s where things get funky and Steamer doesn’t know what to do. The expected outcome in 2018 is that Ronald Acuna will play right field, moving Nick Markakis to left field. However, Steamer doesn’t know where to fit in Acuna and predicts a timeshare of at-bats between Preston Tucker and Lane Adams in left field with Acuna playing a fourth outfielder role. This is not going to happen so we’ll focus on what we can put together.

I’m predicting just 1 fWAR in left field. My reasoning is that I am sticking with Markakis’s projection of .264/.344/.378 with a .313 wOBA and 91 wRC+. In right field, that’s good for a 0.1 fWAR projection. I think his defense will improve slightly with a move to left field and he will lose some at-bats against lefties. Give him 0.6 fWAR.

Lane Adams is majorly disliked by Steamer (.282 wOBA). I think it’s unfair and project him to produce the other 0.4 fWAR needed here with numbers. I’m not going to include Tucker too much.

Center Field

I believe Steamer misses a bit with Ender Inciarte. They project a .313 BABIP, 15 points below his average. That leads to a batting average 13 points below his career. I’m going to ignore that and give him an Ender-like season total of .295/.341/.392 – or his career slash. As a result, I’ll name him Mr. Consistency and believe for the fourth consecutive year, he delivers a 3-win season rather than the 2.2 fWAR Steamer projects.

Right Field

Steamer is usually the best projection system with rookies. That said, because it only projects 81 games for Acuna, his numbers are a bit muted. It does give him a .273/.324/.439 triple slash, 14 doubles, 10 homers, and 16 steals. It also gives him a negative grade on defense. I’m comfortable for the purposes of this exercise sticking with the triple slash, but do believe he’ll play many more games and deliver much better defense.

It’s difficult to find a reasonable comparison in 2017 to what I’m looking for with Acuna, but Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 2.3 fWAR season last year is the closest. He also played in 133 games, though his value is increased by playing center field. I’ll drop Acuna to 2-wins as a result. Much better than a projected 0.6 fWAR Steamer gave him, but still pretty reasonable. I’ll leave the bench alone, but obviously, Tucker and Adams would be expected to handle right field if Acuna is left in the minors to begin the season. Like with Carmago and Culberson, I’m going to suggest Tucker and Adams off-set.

Starting Rotation

Steamer predicts ten different starting pitchers for 2018. The good news here is that I think their fWAR projections are decent for the five main starters.
Julio Teheran – 1.5 fWAR
Brandon McCarthy – 2.1 fWAR
Luis Gohara – 2.3 fWAR
Sean Newcomb – 1.9 fWAR
Mike Foltynewicz – 1.6 fWAR

That comes out to 9.4 fWAR. We’ll add Max Fried, who helps fill in for injuries and whatnot, and predict an even 10 fWAR for the starting rotation. That’s only 1.3 fWAR better than the 2017 staff and I believe it’ll be a realistic projection. It would, though, be the best total in four years.

Bullpen

Steamer isn’t fond of the relief group. Arodys Vizcaino leads the way with 0.6 fWAR. Rex Brothers and Daniel Winkler are next at 0.4 fWAR each. The names aren’t quite that important here, but the projections. For those reasons, I looked at last year’s bullpen, which posted a 4.58 ERA/4.37 FIP/4.61 xFIP. However, most of the poorest performers – Josh Collmenter, Jason Motte, Ian Krol, and Eric O’Flaherty – are gone. Subsequently, the best performers all return, including Winkler and A.J. Minter. Combined, they pitched 32 times and had a 0.9 fWAR. You could double that, but I’m going to pay attention to their injury history and only suggest that, combined, they end up with 1.2 fWAR.

I think Sam Freeman comes down a little from his 0.7 fWAR from last season, but I also think Jose Ramirez comes up from his -0.4 fWAR. Let’s give those two a combined 0.8 fWAR.

That leaves a lot of lottery picks and hopefuls like Jacob Lindgren, Akeel Morris, Josh Ravin, and Chase Whitley. Let’s just be simple here and project 0.4 fWAR. Finally, I’ll give Steamer the benefit of the doubt and stick with Vizcaino’s projection. All told, that’s a 2 fWAR bullpen. I do think that’s low – the 2016 bullpen posted a 4.2 fWAR after all. Remember, though, that this is the Realistic Team model and we want to keep our expectations connected to with what is most likely.

To Sum Up

We came into this knowing we needed 44 fWAR. We also know that last season, the Braves had 26.4 fWAR and 72 wins. So, what did our Realistic Team Model project?

Drumroll, please…

31.6 fWAR. That would suggest a reasonable expectation that the 2018 Braves are a 77-78 win team. Don’t get down or head to the comment section to rip me a new one. I expected that this model wouldn’t be a playoff team. It gives me something to build from for tomorrow’s team, the Optimistic Model, and Friday’s club – the one that adds talent to the team without relying on players outperforming their projections. I am also convinced that the most likely Braves team is actually somewhere in the middle of the Realistic Model and the Optimistic Model.

I am happy that this model suggests a 5 or 6-win improvement over last year’s roster. And that’s with pretty low expectations. What do you think? Believe the model was still too low or agree with me that this model is based on the most likely of events? Or, perhaps, you believe this model is already a bit too optimistic. Let me know in the comments. Tomorrow, I’ll take a stab at the roster as constructed, but I’ll have some reasonable optimism. Can I find a dozen more wins with this roster? I imagine the answer is a big yes.

16 Comments

Tommy….I feel that your assessments were fair. Chances are, you’re prediction of 77-78 wins is right on.

However, I feel that if Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna (he’ll be called up before the end of April) both show that they can wreck havoc at the top of the batting order in 2018 (Snitker should be FIRED her he keeps Inciarte batting leadoff while having Acuna hit 5th/6th in this order)….that will give Freddie Freeman A PLETHORA of RBI opportunities (I want Albies and Acuna hitting in front of Freeman…because of the plus speed both of them have. If Acuna ends up hitting behind Freeman and Markakis, he’ll have little chance to take the extra base because NEITHER Freeman NOR Markakis are exactly ‘fleet of foot’). Best case scenario…..Albies/Acuna/Freeman could combine for a WAR of 13-15!

If Teheran and Folty BOTH ‘settle’ into a 2nd season at Sun Trust in their age 26-27 seasons (a season in which a number of starting pitchers with some seasons under their feet have made improvement/progress)…then both could combine for a WAR of 6-7.

Gohara is someone I feel who could be in contention for ROY (along with Acuna). I would not be surprised if Gohara ups his WAR to 3-4.

However, let’s say that come The Trade Deadline, Soroka and Allard (and maybe Kyle Wright) are all DOMINATING Triple A…..AND if our veteran starting pitchers are pitching decently enough to garner interest at The Trade Deadline in July. Of course the move to make is to trade veterans like McCarthy, Kazmir….and even Teheran (if Folty excels in 2018, I’d rather see The Braves keep him to lead our rotation in 2019)..and make room for Soroka, Allard and even Wright (all of whom have the stuff to be mainstays in our rotation for years to come). However, those trades would pretty much end any playoff hopes for 2018 (as much as I LOVE Soroka, Allard and Wright..it is FOOLISH to expect all three to pitch like gangbusters from Day 1, lol).

Still, I’m ok with sacrificing a playoff pipe dream in 2018 IF we position ourselves (whether via trading veterans and/or giving our best pitching prospects time to get their feet wet in 2018 so they can potentially excel in 2019) to be a serious playoff contender starting in 2019!

This analysis shows what I’ve been saying all along. The team, as currently constructed, is reasonably close to playoff contention. I know you’re shooting for 90 wins but a team in the 83-85 range could easily get a WC slot, which is likely what we should be shooting for this year. To go from 77-78 to 83-85 is much less of a stretch and would likely require only some optimistic performances from the current roster (I know, tomorrow’s post) and maybe one significant move. You have already identified the weakest position on the team – Left Field. Several options have been put out there on how to solve left field; no need to go into that now. But 3 fWAR from LF and an additional 3 fWAR in optimistic performances from the whole rest of the roster will get you into contention. Ultimately, finding a 3B and letting Camargo put his 2 fWAR into the bench output as super util and getting a #1 SP and a lockdown closer (total bullpen fWAR of 4+) will be necessary to make the team a real winner – which could be done next year. I would insist that a reasonable play for a WC in 2018 is necessary if you want any chance to sign a big 2019 FA. Anything less is baseball malpractice and front office negligence.

For what it’s worth, the 90-win goal to be a playoff team is based on the average amount of wins for a Wild Card team since the league began the Wild Card Play-in Game in 2012. Since then, the average team to play in that game has won 90.2 games. If you believe the Nats will likely win more 90 than games, which they have done in 5-of-the-last-7 years, getting to at least 90 wins is a pretty reasonable goal to be a playoff team. 85 wins, though, could be enough if things don’t resemble the 2015 season when a 97-win Pirates team finished third in their division.

An 85 win season may or may not make the playoffs but would be competitive to make the playoffs. It would be enjoyable for the fans and represent a return to respectability at the MLB level. The team would clearly be on the rise and be attractive to big FAs in the 2019 pool. It is where we “should” be.

Nice analysis, Tommy. I can’t see this team breaking the .500 barrier as currently constructed, but I do imagine there will be improvement- so 77-78 wins seems a solid forecast, to me.

I do feel, realistically, the bullpen might do a little better than what’s projected here. However, I think it’ll be negated by a very poor season at the hot corner from the Braves collection of 3B.

Out of curiosity, when you do the Friday piece, any chance you could do a sim with JD Martinez in LF, Tommy? I know there haven’t been any connections made there rumor-wise- but if his best offer really is 5 years and 100 million, and the BoSox are the ONLY bidder… it would seem Atlanta could dabble in that market? I know playing time might get a bit complicated in the OF again if they signed him, but Nick seems movable if the Braves would be willing to take a bag of balls for a return.

Roger…sure, Martinez has pop that would ‘seemingly’ fit nicely into the #4 spot of the order. However, he’s TERRIBLE defensively…and will only get worse as he ages.

Also, all things being equal, Martinez WILL NOT be signing with The Braves….just for a ‘slightly better offer’. Atlanta would have to MASSIVELY overpay for Martinez (going WAY ABOVE the reported 5 year/$100 mil offer that he currently has from Boston).

I’d rather see The Braves bite the bullet, given that we are still in the process of BUILDING our starting rotation (while not rushing our young pitching prospects), for one more season in 2018…and use our payroll flexibility to go after A MUCH BETTER left fielder via The 2018 Free Agent Offseason.

In this market, I’d argue you’re probably wrong on the price point, Paul. I have to believe there will come a point when pride comes into play, and potentially just getting another 15-20 million would look a whole lot better at the press conference, and in the bank account.

Plus, as Roger said, respectability is going to be a key to attracting free agents next offseason. Look at what the Nationals had to pay for Werth before their uptick in the standings. And the way this team plays out on paper here, it’s a bad team. Better, but still bad.

If fans are expected to shell out money for tickets and merchandise, owners and front offices owe it to those same fans to upgrade when they can. This idea that’s out there where half the league is going to punt the season before it starts, but “boy we’d sure like y’all to still come out and spend money to watch the team” is garbage.

King….The Braves have a SERIOUS stockpile of young prospects (especially high end starting pitching prospects) in our system (many of them in the upper levels of The Minors). I think that most Braves fans can realistically see the light at the end of the tunnel now!

Even though I dont expect The Braves to make The Playoffs in 2018….I expect this year to be HELLA FUN/interesting to watch!

If Snitker does the smart thing and bat Albies and Acuna (once he gets called up in late April) #1-#2 throughout the season, with Freeman batting 3rd…..Braves fans will NOT ONLY get a preview of how POTENT the top of the order will be for the next 10 years…BUT ALSO see the obvious glaring need that can EASILY be fixed via The 2018 Free Agent Offseason: POWER BATS to hit #4-#5/play 3rd and left field!

Everywhere else, the line-up will be fine. Sure, it would be nice to get a young/productive catcher that can be a mainstay in the lineup for years to come. However, I would be more than ok with keeping the combo of Flowers and Suzuki for the next 3-4 years…if both stay healthy/productive/continue stealing strikes via their pitch framing ability….slotting both in the #6 hole of The Braves line-up (assuming that we address the #4-#5 spots via Free Agency). Ender Inciarte can hit #7 in 2019 and beyond, while Dansby Swanson can be comfortable hitting #8 and playing good defense at short!

This lineup will buy us time while our young pitching decides which ones we want to keep long term/which ones are better off pitching in high leverage, late inning situations/which ones can be used to as trade bait to either improve other areas of the club OR get prospects to stock the lower levels of The Minors.

I know that you desperate want to see The Braves start winning in 2018…it isnt like I’m against us winning in 2018, lol. However I dont want to see our future sacrificed trying to chase a pipe dream, at best, Wild Card berth (unless The Nationals have a complete meltdown, we ARE NOT going to win The Division in 2018. That team is LOADED).

If the likes of Moustakis, Frazier and/or Martinez were willing to sign one year contracts (perhaps they would be better off doing that, while becoming Free Agents again after The 2018 offseason, because they can be ‘consolation prizes’ to the teams who miss out on the banner Free Agents like Machado, Harper and Donaldson. I feel that too many teams this year are holding out hope that they can be the ones to win those premier Free Agents next year)…then I would have no problem with The Braves signing them. However I dont want to see The Braves hamstring their future payrolls IF we have a chance to sign BETTER players than Moustakis, Frazier and/or Martinez.

If our GM, AA, really wanted to compete for a playoff spot in 2018…then why would he make The Matt Kemp Trade (he basically cut $17 mil in potential 2018 payroll by releasing Adrian Gonzalez…in addition to taking on $16 mil in 2018 payroll with Scott Kazmir, who is FAR from worth $16 mil). IF AA was looking to make a playoff push in 2018…he would have kept Kemp and hoped that he would stay healthy…and used Kazmir’s $16 mil to go after a free agent bat to play 3rd.

The only way that The Kemp Trade make sense (as it was constructed)..is if AA is positioning The Braves to be MAJOR PLAYERS during The 2018 Free Agent Offseason.

Thomas,

Here’s my question (and apologies to most folks, as the trade I’m referencing was a private message question to Thomas the other day). If you do believe the true 2018 outcome will be between your reasonable and optimistic outlooks, why wouldn’t you pull the trigger on the trade we were discussing?

As you admitted here and mentioned in your part 2 of 3, somewhere between reasonable the optimistic could theoretically be 83-85 wins and potentially in the hunt for the 2nd wild card spot as is. You also admitted on facebook that this is right about where you feel the true 2018 outcome will be. However, you tell me you wouldn’t want to acquire Realmuto/Yelich for what I suggested because you, and I quote, “don’t think it makes the Braves a contender”.

In our convo, you went on to admit my suggested deal makes Atlanta 3, maybe 4, wins better…but 3-4 wins better than the somewhat rosy 83-85 wins is an even more cheery 86-89 wins. That’d definitely put us in the mix for a playoff spot.

Sorry to dissect it on this level, but reading the articles made me double take a bit. Having written what you have in the last few days, does that change your opinion of acquiring Yelich/Realmuto if you are able to obtain them at a reasonable price? Or was the real reason you don’t make the suggested deal because the price was still too high?

Bryce….what kind of ‘reasonable price’ did you have in mind that The Braves should pay to get BOTH Yelich and Realmuto from The Marlins?

Dude…don’t bring private messages into it. That’s just bad form.

You have to remember that in your deal, you are taking two players (Dansby and Fried) out of the equation. I didn’t project a super big season out of the duo, but that’s still a loss of 2.1 fWAR that will have to be made up. Further, it’s not you are just adding Yelich/Realmuto to the bottom line. Even if you project the two of them (roughly 7 fWAR) and even out Prado’s production for Swanson (1.6 fWAR) and keep Camargo (at second, presumably, with Albies shifting to shortstop), you still have to minus Flowzuki and Markakis/Adams for the net gain.

-Fried .6 fWAR
-Flowzuki 3 fWAR
-Markakis/Adams 1 fWAR
+- (Swanson/Prado 1.6 fWAR)
+Yelich 4 fWAR
+Realmuto 3 fWAR

Net gain of 2.4 fWAR.

Now, when I said 3-4 wins, I was spitballing, but I was shockingly close (pat on the back). It all depends on where you land between the two rosters, but I was a bit too quick to suggest that adding the package you brought up wasn’t going to build a potential winner. I am trying to convince myself getting Yelich could be a good play more than I was a few days ago. Mainly because, for the roster I’m still trying to build for today’s article (it is coming), adding Yelich’s production for his price tag is almost the only way to get the roster I need. I would leave Realmuto alone, by the way. Focus on Yelich and, yes, there is a chance the Braves see the playoffs in 2018 if a few things go right (mainly, pitching).

Tommy…one thing I’ve learned in dealing with Bryce, he has a way of ‘twisting things’ to fit whatever narrative he wants to pat himself on the back for having, lol! Like how he ‘thinks’ he ‘called’ The Matt Kemp Trade that AA made ‘prior’ to it happening, lol!

History has a way of repeating itself. In 2007, The Braves traded 6 prospects..for Mark Teixeria right before The July Trade Deadline. We had so many holes (mainly with our unstable starting pitching) that Teixeria was FAR from being ‘the final piece’ that would push us towards The Playoffs. This was WAY DIFFERENT than The Fred McGriff Trade in 1993 (regardless of the prospects we gave up..that is irrelevant, because I understand that in order to ‘get, one has to be willing to give’). Giving up prime prospects right now for Yelich….given how ‘incomplete’ our Starting Rotation is now….is simply TOO EARLY to make such a trade.

By waiting until after 2018 is over to make such a move (if we miss out on Yelich…oh well, there will be OTHER PLAYERS that come along that we can make moves to get), we’ll have MUCH MORE INFO regarding who’ll be in our 2019 Starting Rotation..which I feel should be MUCH STRONGER/more high ceiling than The 2018 Starting Rotation.

Thomas,

Apologies for bringing up the PMs. Figured we’d get more discussion out of it here than in the messages since these things tend to be longer-winded than just the usual trade idea I run by you every other day. Again, the only reason I feel tempted to bring it up to you is I felt it was just a little bit odd that one day adding 3-4 wins–regardless of names–doesn’t make a team a contender, then a couple of days later the team could potentially (and admittedly you feel it’s likely) the team could very well be a 83-85 win team that is on the cusp of contention without those 3-4 wins.

Moving forward, though. I trusted your math regarding the 3-4 wins, even if you were spitballing last weekend. What you presented to me back then was within the ballpark of what my expectations were had I actually done legitimate math as well. The only difference in the equation I noticed was that you subtract Flowzuki entirely from the equation when adding Realmuto. I get that Realmuto is a heavy workload guy, but reality–if the scenario were to actually occur–would likely mean that one of Flowers and Suzuki would be kept for the reserve role (probably Suzuki) while the other is traded for something that could be deemed useful. While true that Flowzuki vs. Realmuto could more or less be a wash, Flowzuki vs. Realzuki has to come out ahead, right? That would potentially bump your net gain estimation of 2.4 closer to an even 3 even accounting for less playing time for Kurt.

Otherwise, I agree that Yelich, should be the focus if a trade is ventured with the Marlins. He is the better player, with the better contract, at a position of greater need that stands to provide a greater impact in wins….in 2018. However, for me, I would caution not to blacklist Realmuto from the discussions. While Flowzuki is a nice combo to have, it is only going to be around for the 2018 season. We do not have prospects on the level of a Realmuto in our system and arguably, none are all that close to producing at the big league level as well. If we are truly looking out for the longterm chance of winning, Realmuto provides a huge benefit–price of acquisition, obviously a huge factor. If Realmuto can be discussed in the package without sending the price into oblivion, it has to be considered. In short, an open-mind and willingness to add Realmuto should be kept….but he should not be the deal-breaker if the Marlins refuse to talk package price or refuse to trade him.

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