2018 Preseason Top 50 Braves Prospects – #5-#1

2018 Preseason Top 50 Braves Prospects – #5-#1

Here it is – our final five prospects in our preseason Top 50. Amazingly, as if we planned it, today is also the day pitchers and catchers report – including most of this list.

You know who #1 is. Surprisingly, we all had the same exact start to our Top 50’s with the same player #1 and the same player #2. No matter how you slice, these five players are elite, blue-chip prospects. They are not only the best in the Braves system but among the best in baseball. And there is a chance that all five could wear an Atlanta uniform in 2018. That should excite you, guys and gals. Thanks for reading along and we’ll see you again for a midseason Top 50 sometime this summer.

Methodology – each member of Walk-Off Walk submitted a Top 50. We then averaged the rankings together to give us a composite ranking. If a player was unranked on any one member’s submission, he was assigned a ranking of #55 for averaging purposes. Ties were broken by the highest individual rank by a member of Walk-Off Walk. In one case, a second tiebreaker that used the second highest individual rank was utilized. All rankings are displayed along with the preseason and midseason ranks from 2017. It should be noted that the 2017 preseason Top 50 was done entirely by Tommy Poe.

Touki Toussaint, Max Fried, and Mike Soroka | Max Fried @maxfried32

5. Max Fried

Tommy: #7, Stephen: #5, Ryan: #6
2017 Preseason: #11, Midseason: #21

When the Braves acquired Max Fried during the fire sale winter of 2014-15, it was a tad bittersweet. The Braves weren’t acquiring many game-changing prospects at the time and Fried was the best of the lot. However, he was also hurt and would miss the entire 2015 season. By the time he did return, the Braves had loaded up on elite prospects and Fried was falling in the system rankings. And then, he found his curveball.

Babied on a pitch count, Fried effectively repeated low-A. He had already pitched well for the Padres as a 19-year-old back in 2013 at the level. That could have made his accomplishments in 2016 a bit underwhelming, but the fact that he stayed healthy and struck out 26.4% of batters was a great sign. While his ERA finished near 4.00, that was the cause of a few early stinkers. In his final 14 games and 70.2 innings, Fried had a 3.06 ERA and struck out 84 batters.

Like much of the famed 2016 Rome rotation, Fried jumped Florida and opened 2017 with Mississippi. He struggled greatly, battling blisters nearly as much as he battled Southern League hitters. After missing nearly a month of action in July, the Braves put him on a strict pitch count and he seemed to respond. After three short starts, none of which lasted beyond the fourth inning, Fried was surprisingly brought to the majors for a four-game cameo. He would later be brought back in September for five games, including four starts. His last start only went 4.1 innings, but he flashed his skills with 7 strikeouts. He then dominated the Arizona Fall League over 19 innings, giving Fried a career-high 137.2 innings.

Fried gets a lot of natural sink on his four-seamer, which gives the pitch an almost two-seam feel with four-seam giddy-up. His changeup also has some sink to it, but the pitch that is worth the price of admission is his mid-70’s curveball. It’s one of the better curveballs you’ll see in 2018 and is a potential 70-grade pitch. When he’s able to control it, hitters have no chance.

At 24, Fried is a bit older than some of the other elite arms the Braves have. Don’t sleep on him, though. He’s got as much ability as anyone. It just comes down to refining his pitches. (Tommy Poe)

4. Mike Soroka

Tommy: #4, Stephen: #4, Ryan: #3
2017 Preseason: #6, Midseason: #6

The Braves drafted Soroka with the 28th overall pick in 2015, which was a bit a surprise for some, but almost right away he showed it was the right move. In his first 34 innings in 2015, he posted a 2.06 FIP with exceptional command of the baseball when he was just a teenager. He followed that up with an impressive 2016 season at Rome, with a 3.02 ERA, 2.78 FIP, and 51% ground-ball rate. Dominating the way he did in his first couple seasons led Atlanta to go super-aggressive in 2017 and have Soroka skip high-A and go straight to AA.

All he did there, as a 19-year-old, was post a 2.75 ERA, 3.19 FIP, and a 46% ground-ball rate. Soroka is a big kid at 6’5 225 and has the perfect frame as a workhorse starter. He’s a 3-pitch guy, with a sinking fastball that sits 90-94, a two-plane slider that sits around 84, and a developing change-up that will really be a huge part of his major-league success. Soroka is 3/4 delivery guy which means he struggles sometimes to get on top of that change-up and can lead to problems against lefties. 3/4 arm slot pitchers have a history of higher platoon splits because of that reason so that will be a thing to watch for him. That and maintaining above average ground-ball rates is really the recipe for success in Mike’s career.

He’s 20-years-old in 2018 so pitching a full year in AAA would be huge accomplishment based on his age but there may be bigger things in store for Soroka this year. He could absolutely see time in the major-league rotation if there’s an injury or really, if he continues showing pitch-ability above his years. It might be a September call-up for Mike but I don’t see any reason, barring injury, he isn’t competing for a rotation spot in 2019. (Stephen Tolbert)

Kyle Wright | Jeff Morris – @JeffMorrisAB

3. Kyle Wright

Tommy: #3, Stephen: #3, Ryan: #4
2017 Preseason: UR, Midseason: #3

With the 5th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, Braves selected New Market, Alabama native Kyle Wright out of Vanderbilt University.  Coming in as Baseball America’s #2 overall prospect in the draft, it was a bit of a surprise that Wright dropped to the Braves at #5 but his year at Vanderbilt had a bit more ups and downs that apparently couldn’t be overlooked by the top 4 teams. Braves considered themselves lucky as a rooster in a henhouse that Wright lasted til 5, and I think Wright returned that feeling as he grew up a fan of the Braves.

What Wright lacks velocity on his fastball (only coming in the mid-90s rather than the upper-90s that’s so coveted in current market), he’s matched with stuff as he’s got 4 pitches that could rate as plus with the 4th, the changeup,  being deemed by Wright himself as his “most important pitch” (translation: it needs to develop and be disguised more) .  This means that he has more of a defined floor as at least a back-end starter with a ceiling as a #2 in a good rotation. This might not be what many want to hear, but it’s more secure than the likes of someone like Touki Toussaint who’s all ceiling right now with a floor that could reach the depths of…well, I’ll just leave it there. Truthfully, there’s only 1, maybe 2, guys a year that get pegged with “ace” stuff and most of those guys aren’t in the Braves system (don’t fret, Braves fans…five number 2-3 starters is a dynamite rotation…we all can’t be Clayton Kershaw).

Coming from a powerhouse like Vandy, Wright likely has as much, or more, polish than anyone in the Braves MiLB system outside of Mike Soroka.  It wouldn’t surprise me if he were to begin his 2018 season at Double-A Mississippi where he’ll look to add innings to his professional resume. If he stays healthy and productive, he’ll likely move up to Triple-A at some point and who knows from there. If the Braves just so happen to surprise everyone and compete for a Wild Card and Kyle Wright is sitting ’em down in Gwinnett, there could be just enough madness mixed to create a perfect storm for late-season magic. One can dream. (Ryan Cothran)

2. Luiz Gohara

Tommy: #2, Stephen: #2, Ryan: #2
2017 Preseason: #7, Midseason: #8

When the Mariners traded Gohara to the Braves last winter, Ken Rosenthal penned an article about the reasons why. Scouts hated the deal. I mean, they absolutely hated the deal. The Mariners were worried about Gohara’s shoulder, they said. Of course, they also acquired Shae Simmons in the deal so apparently, health concerns really didn’t bother them.

In the end, one team’s loss was another team’s amazing gain. The Atlanta Braves acquired one of the top lefthand prospects in all of baseball for a player they felt was talented, but far too injury-prone (Simmons) and another they worried was a fourth outfielder (Mallex Smith). Not too shabby of a deal. That’s before you get into the season that Gohara had after being acquired. Like our #1 player, Gohara was a consensus pick among the guys. Each of us had him #2. After his 2017, that only makes the #1 prospect all the more impressive. More on that guy a little later.

Gohara opened the year in Florida. For three seasons, Gohara was the talented, but raw kid. He started to put it together in 2016 (seriously, that’s when you trade him, Seattle?), and only found his footing last year. In seven starts in Florida, Gohara had a 1.98 ERA and 1.99 FIP. Not too bad and the Florida State League felt their prayers were answered when the Braves brought him to Mississippi. Over 12 appearances with the M-Braves, Gohara again had a freakishly similar ERA/FIP of 2.60/2.52. All the while, he was striking out about 27-28% with a close to 8% walk rate. I hear that’s good.

At just 20 years-old, he made his Gwinnett debut and started seven games with the former Braves. Roughed up a little in two of his first three starts at the level, Gohara caught fire. Over his final four starts, he sported a 1.83 ERA and 30 K’s in 19.2 innings. Now 21, he made his major league debut last September and in five starts, he showed the oh, so good (7 ING, 1 ER 2 BB, 9 K) and the meh (4 ING, 6 ER, 4 BB, 6 K). But considering he started the year facing Daytona and finished it facing Miami, that’s not too shabby at all.

The story with Gohara is pretty well known by this point. He throws a 96-97 mph fastball with plus movement and triple-digit max velocity. When you key in on that pitch, he’ll throw a tight slider right past you for the strikeout. The two pitches are so good that Gohara didn’t bother with his changeup against lefthanders. It’s more of a pitch he’ll use against righties to keep them off-balanced. It’s his poorest pitch by far and its development will decide just what kind of starter Gohara becomes. He didn’t use it often the first time through the order, choosing instead to go to it the second time through the order as another pitch to mess with his hitters.

Of all the pitchers the Braves have acquired, drafted, and signed over the last few years, Luiz Gohara has the best chance to be a legit “ace.” By that, I mean, he’s got the potential to be one of the best 20 or 30 pitchers in baseball. He just might be that in 2018. Everything is there. Now, can he put it all together? (Poe)

Ronald Acuna | Jeff Morris @JeffMorrisAB

1. Ronald Acuna

Tommy: #1, Stephen: #1, Ryan: #1
2017 Preseason: #9, Midseason: #1

Who else? The number one prospect in all of baseball was always going to be at the top of our list. Braves haven’t had a prospect this good or this hyped since Jason Heyward and it’s probably accurate to say his debut is the best thing going about the 2018 season.

Acuna started in High-A-ball last year and while he didn’t dominate, he did enough to show the old Braves’ front office that he was ready for a promotion. He got that promotion and made his way to Double-A where he would start one of the greatest minor league seasons in Braves history. He posted an absurd 159 wRC+ at AA Mississippi while also cutting his K rate by 8%. All At 19 years-old. Had he stopped there, that alone was probably enough to warrant being the number one prospect in baseball. But he wasn’t done.

In a hyper-aggressive move, Atlanta then promoted our teenage phenom to AAA where he was younger than the average player by 4 or 5 years. How did he respond? By posting an even more absurd 162 wRC+ and again, lowering his K rate by another 4%. This isn’t supposed to happen. Teenagers just don’t do that. Not at AA. Much less AAA. He capped his 2017 season by setting the Arizona Fall league on fire and again showing the world he was just better than his peers.

From a scouting perspective, what sets Acuna apart is he has an extremely high floor given his speed and defense prowess. Even if for some reason, he struggles to hit big league pitching, the way he can run and play defense means he could basically be a 2 WAR player without really trying. Add to that a 70-grade arm, and his non-offensive arsenal is as impressive as there is in minor-league baseball, with his fellow Braves’ teammate Cristian Pache possibly being the only exception.

But he’s not expected to struggle to hit. Cause he’s hit everywhere. And amazingly, as the competition has gotten better, so has his production. His fast hands and incredible raw power generate tremendous bat and ball speed and leads to big-time damage. I would expect that to continue in the majors.

The only question for Acuna will be when will he get that call. Atlanta could be aggressive and let him play opening day or, the more likely path, is they could play service time games and delay his call-up in 2018. Whenever he’s up, enjoy him Braves’ fans. These kinds of players just don’t come along that often. And Atlanta needs him. (Tolbert)

Preseason Top 50 Prospects

#5-#1
1. Ronald Acuna
2. Luiz Gohara
3. Kyle Wright
4. Mike Soroka
5. Max Fried
#10-#6
6. Kolby Allard
7. Austin Riley
8. Ian Anderson
9. Joey Wentz
10. Cristian Pache
#20-#11
11. Alex Jackson
12. Bryse Wilson
13. A.J. Minter
14. Drew Waters
15. Touki Toussaint
16. William Contreras
17. Patrick Weigel
18. Jacob Lindgren
19. Kyle Muller
20. Travis Demeritte
#30-#21
21. Jean Carlos Encarnacion
22. Dustin Peterson
23. Akeel Morris
24. Freddy Tarnok
25. Anyelo Gomez
26. Isranel Wilson
27. Tyler Pike
28. Derian Cruz
29. Drew Lugbauer
30. Matt Withrow
#40-#31
31. Brett Cumberland
32. Devan Watts
33. Corbin Clouse
34. Tucker Davidson
35. Ricardo Sanchez
36. Lucas Herbert
37. Thomas Burrows
38. Anfernee Seymour
39. Drew Harrington
40. Huascar Ynoa
#50-#41
41. Ray-Patrick Didder
42. Adam McCreery
43. Tyler Neslony
44. Jared James
45. Braulio Vasquez
46. Dylan Moore
47. Leudys Baez
48. Jefrey Ramos
49. Jacob Webb
50. Braxton Davidson
On The Outside
Bradley Keller
Phil Pfeifer
Dilmer Mejia

23 Comments

The Top 4 on this list (I prefer Kolby Allard over Max Fried, and I’ll explain why in a bit) could very well be HIGH IMPACT PLAYERS for The Braves for the next 10-15 years (assuming injuries dont play a role OR Management decides not to be PROACTIVE when it comes to trying to sign these 4 to early extension-type deals).

Ronald Acuna, after he gets called up 2 weeks into the season (I’m ok with delaying his service clock by a year..HOWEVER I would be PISSED if Management held him down until mid-June to prevent him from being a Super Two because of the MLB playing time he would miss), will get 145 games or so to get his feet wet/acclimated to MLB pitching. I know that some fans want Acuna hitting lower in the order because of his power…HOWEVER I feel that with his PLUS SPEED/ability to draw walks, having hit #2 in the order behind Albies (who should our leadoff hitter, NOT Inciarte) and ahead of Freddie would give The Braves a potentially LETHAL top 3 of the batting order combo (Freddie could very well lead all of MLB in RBIs having that kind of talent/speed/OBP type hitters hitting/getting on base in front of him). It would be a complete WASTE of Acuna’s speed, if he hit being Freeman/Markakis in the order (especially if either of those guys got on base in front of him). Ronald Acuna’s bat/ability to make adjustments at the plate FAR EXCEEDS anything Jason Heyward ever had as a Brave. Unless Acuna suffers from some prolonged slump…I hope that our hitting coaches basically leave him alone/let him ‘do his thing’. I watched Acuna a number of times on The MILB Package Online last year…..dude can rake at the plate!

2. Gohara’s progression in 2017 will hopefully give Braves Management a ‘road map’ when it comes to THE IMPORTANCE that giving ‘a cup of coffee starts’ to the likes of Mike Soroka, Kolby Allard and Kyle Wright later in The 2018 Season. Gohara’s meteoric rise in 2017 ended with those 5 starts in Atlanta at the end of The 2017 Season. He had all winter to know what he needs to do to make 2018 work for him. As much as I love Ronald Acuna….Gohara could very well end up being The 2018 Rookie of The Year! Deep down, I feel that Gohara will end up being the best Braves Starting Pitcher in 2018. His stuff is that good and more importantly it appears that he has a game plan when he’s on the mound (in other words, he doesnt look nearly as confused/flustered that Mike Folty struggles with at times).

3/4. While a part of me wants to see The Braves compete in 2018….another part of me is concerned that ‘legitimately competing’ for a playoff spot in 2018 will end up DELAYING/putting a crimp into 2019 being a potentially MONSTER season! I say this…because for 2019 to potentially play out like I hope it to….it is ESSENTIAL that Mike Soroka, Kolby Allard and Kyle Wright NOT ONLY continue their past MILB dominance by starting off the year shining in Triple A (Wright possibly in Double A) BUT ALSO being given an opportunity later in the season to ‘get their cups of coffee’ in Atlanta’s Rotation. That can only be accomplished by trading away/moving to the bullpen at least 2-3 of our current starting pitchers.

To accomplish that, I expect either Teheran or Folty to be traded. While I expect both to rebound and put up decent numbers during the 1st half of 2018…the harsh reality is that by 2019-2020 NEITHER will be good enough to be in our rotation (we have some serious WAVES of starting pitching talent working their way up our system). By the July Trading Deadline, there will be a number of teams in need of starting pitching…..trading one (probably Teheran, because of the certainty of his contract status AND his past track record of staying healthy/relative success) would free up a slot (probably for Soroka first).

Trading McCarthy would open another slot (for either Allard or Wright, probably Allard IF he continues to show that his dominance of Double A in 2017 was no fluke AND if he addresses the BS rumors about his stuff being ‘on the decline’ by his performance in the 1st half of 2018).

This is an IMPORTANT season for Sean Newcomb. Right now, he has the 1st half of the 2018 season to show that he not only can develop a 3rd pitch to get hitters out (or at least keep them honest) but also show that he can make it through 5 innings consistently WITHOUT needing over 100 pitches. If Newcomb shows that he is a LEGIT MLB starter deserving to be a starter on a FUTURE Braves Staff that is slated to be ONE OF THE BEST of all MLB….then that would probably ‘delay’ Wright getting promoted (that would be a good problem for The Braves to have). However, if Newcomb continues to struggle or is ‘mediocre at best’…then I expect Braves management to either put Newcomb in The Bullpen and try him as a high leverage reliever (someone who could go multiple innings late in a game) OR use him as trade bait to a team who really needs pitching and can afford to be ‘patient’ with Newcomb as a starting pitcher.

By September…the rotation could very well be Folty, Gohara, Soroka, Allard and Wright! Max Fried could very well be given Newcomb’s spot later in the year if Wright is delayed for any reason in The Minors. However I feel that given Fried’s injury history…he would be MUCH BETTER positioned to succeed if he were put in the bullpen to fulfill an Andrew Miller-like role! Imagine a bullpen in 2019 with Minter, Newcomb, Fried (and hopefully Craig Kimbrel to ANCHOR the bullpen)..along with whoever else rises up during The 2018 Season? That could be potentially LETHAL!

While I feel that the above paragraphs are a realistic projection….I understand that history has proven that injuries/variance/attrition/simply not being able to adjust to MLB hitters…all have played a role in many a bright prospect’s career going down in flames. That’s why I keep harping on maintaining my position that NONE of our highly valued pitching prospects should be traded UNTIL after we’ve completely built our Starting Rotation!

While I feel that Gohara, Soroka, Allard and Wright will be a formidable 4-some for years to come….that would still leave one spot to eventually replace Folty (if the Braves keep him over Teheran). I’m sure that someone among Tooki, Weigel (depends on if he comes back as a starter/reliever from his injury), Wentz, Wilson, Anderson, Davidson and Sanchez will rise up to take that #5 slot! I feel that Bryce Wilson will have the inside track. It should be A LOT OF FUN to see how the pitching prospects at High Class A Florida compete with each other to potentially show that they are deserving of a Gohara-like rise in 2018.

It is SO NICE to not have to depend on the health/ability of ‘only a few’ pitching prospects to make it! While The Rebuild has been painful to watch at The MLB Level (we’ve SUCKED 2015-2017)….how Coppy STOCKED The System is miraculous. Were all trades ‘perfect’? Of course not! However Coppy more than made up for ‘his misses’ with absolute HOME RUNS! Gohara, Jackson, Inciarte, Swanson! Even in the trades that didnt exactly work out, like the 1st Oliveria Trade (where The Braves got a draft pick that turned into Joey Wentz) and the Kimbrel Trade (where we also got a draft pick that turned into Austin Riley)…Coppy still managed to get something in return that could very well turn those trades in our favor in the long run!

The 2015-2017 Drafts could very well go down as HISTORIC in nature, when all is said and done! I just hope that our GM, AA, has the foresight to be a little patient in 2018…and give our young talent BOTH time and opportunity to develop! If Gohara does his thing in 2018…..I’m hoping that AA will use that as motivation to give Soroka, Allard and Wright their ‘cups of coffee’ in 2018, which I feel would prepare all three for potentially really good seasons in 2019. With a young, cheap, cost controlled Starting Rotation in 2019…..Braves Management will have the resources to go after some power hitters to fill 3rd and left field.

Paul, I actually like Allard more than I do Fried, too. That’s not a knock on Fried or anything. I just enjoy watching the “softer” tossing lefties that have that “feel” for pitching. And while Fried’s made huge strides, he’s also older. For Allard to be what he is at his age is impressive.

That said, I’m not sure I’d want to see the young starters making a ton of starts down the stretch- regardless of where the Braves are in the standings. I think it’s much more beneficial to bring these guys out of the pen in September, so you can manage their innings and put them in positions for success. It’s all about building confidence.

So I’m hopeful the Braves don’t trade McCarthy this season. And while ultimately I feel like Folty is a better fit for the bullpen, I want him to stick in the rotation this season- unless Kazmir is able to make strides in his recovery and hold a rotation spot.

King…I never stated I want to see Soroka, Allard and Wright making 15-20 starts in 2018 in Atlanta’s Rotation. I’d be happy if each could make 5-10 starts at the end of the year (similar to how Gohara made his 5 ‘cup of coffee starts’ at the end of 2017). Watch how Gohara performs this year.

Besides, Steve Avery was called up to pitch the 2nd half of the 1990 (this after being The #3 pick in The 1988 Draft)..and went 3-12 with a ERA over 5. It didnt hurt his ‘confidence’ going into the 1991 season, when he went 18-8 during the season…while pitching 16 2/3rds innings, only giving up 7 hits and ZERO runs against The Pirates in the NLCS!

Soroka, Allard and Wright have some SERIOUS TALENT. I see NO REASON why those three (along with Gohara) cant be SIGNIFICANT MEMBERS of The 2018 Pitching Staff! If those three exhibit dominance in Triple A during the 1st half of 2018….it would be a waste to not make room in Atlanta’s Rotation for them. It isnt like McCarthy, Kazmir (even Teheran and Folty long term) are playoff caliber starting pitchers/have the high ceiling that Soroka, Allard and Wright have.

You’re talking about 5-10 starts on top of the innings they’ll put in during the minor league season though, Paul. That’s a long season for some very young pitchers, with one having a history of back problems.

Steve Avery may not be the best example to use to support your argument either. Yes, those are some good numbers you rattled off… but look at how Avery’s career turned out on the whole.

I’m not suggesting the Braves should be exploring long-term extensions with McCarthy or Kazmir; but if the Braves aren’t going to try to compete (which still annoys me) this year, why not let them shoulder the load?

King….look at the innings that Soroka (153 2/3rd) and Allard (150) BOTH pitched in Double A in 2017! While Allard only pitched 87 2/3rd innings in 2016 in Class A….Soroka pitched 143 innings in 2016 in Class A.

Sure, Allard’s workload may need to be monitored in 2017…he did stay healthy/pitched 150 innings in 2017. Also, Soroka past two years suggest that he has the makings of a workhorse!

I look at Gohara’s 2017..as a roadmap for how Soroka, Allard and possibly Wright could progress (when it comes to getting ‘cups of coffee starts’ at the end of 2018 to help prepare them to excel in Atlanta’ Rotation in 2018).

Steve Avery’s sad fall of in the mid-90’s….had NOTHING to do with how he was used in 1990 and 1991. I suspect that he tried to pitch injured in the 1995 Season. Sometimes, a pitcher has to swallow his pride and shut it down when he’s hurt. Rob Nen basically ruined his career with The SF Giants when he pitched in The 2002 Playoffs with a torn rotator cup. Sure, The Giants came within 8 outs of a World Series in Game 6. However the price paid was that he NEVER pitched another game after that year (despite putting up 43 saves with a 2.20 ERA in 73 2/3rds, 64 hits, 2 homers, 20 walks, 81 strikeouts, 2.4 WAR, which is very good for a closer).

King, I get it…you are tired of The Braves losing. However, this is the 1st year of The Rebuild…that we will see SIGNIFICANT EVIDENCE on The Braves Roster that takes the field, that The Rebuild could very well produce LONG TERM RESULTS! Look at who will be on The 2018 Opening Day Roster…that WAS NOT on The 2017 Opening Day Roster (Sean Newcomb, Ozzie Albies, Luiz Gohara, AJ Minter)…in addition to Ronald Acuna coming up 2 weeks after Opening Day…as well as Mike Soroka, Kolby Allard and possibly Kyle Wright after The Trade Deadline.

From Opening Day 2017 (when only Dansby Swanson, of our legit prospects, was on The MLB Roster)…to the end of The 2018 Season…will see more than A FLOOD of young, potentially long term high ceiling prospects making SIGNIFICANT contributions on the MLB field!

That’s progress….and gives HELLA HOPE for 2019 and beyond…ESPECIALLY with how much financial payroll flexibility that AA will have once The 2018 Free Agent Offseason begins! I happen to find PLEASURE in seeing how well our young prospects play/develop during The 2018 Season. I’ll never forget how the last 2 months of The 1990 Season gave me HOPE going into 1991 (when David Justice absolutely RAKED at the plate in August/September of 1990..while Avery, Smoltz and Glavine all showed hope with the stuff they were throwing, even if their results didnt result in wins that year).

If John Schuerholtz didnt spend the money and go after Terry Pendleton, Sid Bream, Rafael Belliard (and trade for Otis Nixon and Alejandro Pena) after The 1990 Season ended…..no way does that 1991 magical season happen! If I’m right about how our young talent progresses in 2018…..then AA would be foolish to not at least try and go after Machado, Harper and Kimbrel…..which would give The Braves the opportunity to make 2019 mirror The 1991 Season!

King, like I’ve said before…just be patient dude! This time next year….you’ll be FULL OF EXCITEMENT/ANTICIPATION (ready to forget/put behind the lack of division titles since our Steak of 14 ended with that last Division Title in 2005). Instead of lamenting The Braves not going to The Playoffs in 2018….take some PRIDE in the serious YOUNG TALENT showing their ability (especially come September).

If AA does his job after The 2018 Season ends….The Braves will be ONE STRONG ASS TEAM! BANK ON IT, dude! I just hope that Snitker drops Inciarte in the order and have Albies and Acuna hit #1-#2 in front of Freeman throughout The 2018 Season!

I watched The MLB Channel’s “Atlanta Braves: Team of the 90’s” special…..I cannot help but state that I’m getting this feeling of DEJA VU all over again!

When I look back at that 1991 team…our GM, John Shuerholtz spent (what was back then) significant Free Agent money on Free Agents Terry Pendleton, Sid Bream, Raphael Belliard, Deion Sanders (and made a trade at the end of Spring Training to acquire Otis Nixon)….to JOIN a PLETHORA of young talent on The 1991 Braves Roster (Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Steve Avery, David Justice, Jeff Blauser, Ron Gant, Brian Hunter and Mark Lemke).

NO WAY does that 1991 Season play out…WITHOUT those SIGNIFICANT Free Agent signings! No one seems to ‘buy into’ what I’ve been saying about The Braves NEEDING/BEING ABLE to sign Manny Machado, Bryce Harper and Craig Kimbrel during The 2018 Free Agent Offseason. I’m saying that if they do….2019 WILL BE A REPEAT of 1991!

Also…if you fast forward to the 1995 Season…you’ll see players such as Chipper Jones, Javy Lopez and Ryan Klesko….who WERE NOT on those 1991 or 1992 World Series teams! Those players represented THE NEXT WAVE of talent who came a few years after 1991 (similar to how the likes of Joey Wentz, Bryce Wilson, Ian Anderson, Kyle Muller, Tucker Davidson, Christian Pache and perhaps a few ‘unknowns’ down in Class A and below…COULD very well be a part of a similar ‘NEXT WAVE’ of talent down the line).

I’m not saying that The Braves will start a 14 year run of Division winning teams in 2019. I’m saying that with THE TALENT that The Braves have on The Roster in 2018 (similar to what happened in 1990, when David Justice, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Steve Avery were ‘preparing’ for that 1991 Season. Avery went 3-12 in 1990 with an ERA over 5, lol…then went 18-8 in 1991, lol).

I’m not being just ‘a homer’ here. I’m EXCITED about 2018..not because I feel that we’re going to contend for The Playoffs in 2018 (I doubt we do)…I’m EXCITED because I want to see how Albies, Acuna, Gohara, Minter play basically a full season (as well as Swanson ‘adjust’ from last season)..IN ADDITION to Soroka, Allard and Wright getting their ‘cups of coffee’…as well as potentially down the line crucial bullpen pieces such as Dan Winkler and Anyelo Gomez (as well as possibly Corbin Crouse and Devan Watts)…and Max Fried (who I’ve stated numerous times could be better suited to fill an Andrew Miller-like role in The Bullpen).

The problem…is that our offense is going to STRUGGLE in 2018 because we simply lack legit middle of the order power OUTSIDE of Freddie Freeman (Albies and Acuna both have ‘power’…however their speed dictates their presence at the top of the batting order). In addition…outside of Gohara, The Braves in 2018 lack ‘quality’ playoff caliber starting pitchers…AS WELL as a HAMMER to close out games (AJ Minter may have that in him…however given his health issues in the past, it is ‘unrealistic’ to expect him to immediately take on that HAMMER ROLE 40-50 times a year). Just as John Wetteland ‘groomed’ Mariano Rivera into the closer’s role..I feel that Craig Kimbrel would do a similar thing for Minter.

Awhile back I posted a projected 2019 25-man roster that included paying BOTH Machado and Harper $35 mil each..as well as Kimbrel $18 mil. With Freddie ‘only’ making $21 mil in each of 2019, 2020 and 2021…as well as Inciarte ‘only’ making $5 mil in 2019, $7 mil in 2020, $8 mil in 2021 and a team option $9 mil in 2022….to go along with THE PLETHORA of cheap, pre-arbitration eligible players who are slated to LITTER The Braves Roster AT LEAST from 2019-2021…..WHY NOT go after MIDDLE OF THE ORDER POWER and A HAMMER to close games via The 2018 Free Agent Offseason?

With a 2nd WAVE of talent primed to come up in 2020 and 2021 (to possibly replace arbitration eligible players who ‘may not’ be worth what they are asking for in arbitration in 2022)..IN ADDITION to the rising revenues that come with fans spending SIGNIFICANTLY MORE MONEY on The Braves because they are WINNING/making The Playoffs each year……Braves Management would be FOOLS to not take advantage of such a situation!

$35 mil a year right now..yes it’s a lot of money. However, given that both players are 25 years old….they would be MORE THAN worth $35 mil each year (especially when you factor in what Mike Trout is going to get when he’s a Free Agent in 2020, lol). By 2021-2022….chances are that the $35 mil that they would be making in the middle of their 8-10 year contracts…could very well be ‘bargain’s for The Braves. While $70 mil (combined) a year is almost half of a projected $150 mil 2019 payroll…..it will only be about 1/3 of a projected 2021 payroll of around $200 mil (which The Braves should be able to MORE THAN AFFORD) by then with the increased revenues.

Pay Machado and Harper (as well as Kimbrel)…and we can keep all of our high ceiling starting pitching prospects and see which ones ‘rise up’ and earn their way into our rotation (in addition to The Bullpen). Christian Pache gives us some flexibility in case Inciarte gets hurt down the line/or needs to be traded before he becomes a Free Agent. If need be, we can trade one or two of our ‘surplus pitchers’ a few years from now to get a good catcher (I feel that if Flowers and Suzuki both show in 2018 that 2017 was no fluke….why not re-sign those two for the next 2-3 seasons? It isnt like either is going to be HELLA expensive at their ages. Both perform well when NEITHER has to play 7 days a week, lol)….and that is assuming that neither Jackson, Cumberland, Herbert or Contraras pan out.

West Coast…..Dude, Stanton has a 10 year contract that averages almost $30 mil ($295 over 10 years). The Marlins had to throw in $30 mil to get The Yankees to take on that contract.

I seriously doubt that both Harper and Machado are going to get deals that average $45-50 mil a year. That would be like saying that both of them are 50% better than Stanton.

$35 mil a year will be the average (and that’s an overpay..but necessarily when a stud player is a Free Agent).

Not that it matters since Machado is in the bank for the Yankees. And he’s a SS. Maybe the Braves should sign JDM this year and pass on next year’s FA class. Don’t really need Donaldson with Riley in line. Harper will sign with the Nats or go out west. If Kershaw doesn’t re-up with the Dodgers then he’s the one to go after. The Braves need HRs and a #1 SP. It’ll be nice if Riley and Jackson can cover 3B and C in a couple of years but no OFs in the pipeline. Don’t need a CL with Minter stepping up. Rather than wading into furious competition next year, sign JDM this year and declare victory. JDM should be around just long enough to let Pache mature. Kershaw is the brass ring.

Roger…..you made some ‘decent’ points. However, JDM simply plays TERRIBLE defense in left field. If PEDs were legal, I’d have NO PROBLEM with signing JDM. However dude’s contract will be an albatross for any NL team after year 3.

Clayton Kershaw is going to cost $35 mil a year to sign if he opts out of his Dodgers contract. A big selling point of The Braves Rebuild…was having A PLETHORA of young, cost controlled, high ceiling starting pitching…that The Braves can reap the rewards from FOR at least 6 years from each of them. Sure, Kershaw is ‘a stud’….however I feel that The Braves have a number of ‘high ceiling #2’s in our system’. Gohara, Wright, Soroka, Wentz, Wilson, Anderson..even Allard all have potential to be innings eaters who can put up quality start after quality start. 2018 should be THE LAST YEAR that The Braves have to field anything less than ‘playoff caliber’ starting pitchers in our rotation #1-#5. Given the risk of injuries to starting pitchers….paying Kershaw $35 mil a year for a non-big market team like The Braves..is simply too much.

At some point, (5-6 years down the line), The Braves are going to face the prospect of deciding which of our young pitchers we should sign before they become eligible for Free Agency (if any of them are willing to take ‘long term deals’…nice. However, if they arent, then The Braves will have some decisions to make). I’d rather see The Braves at least get some ‘value’ out of them as young, cost controlled pitchers first (then take on the financial risk of them getting hurt AFTER they’ve shown that they can stay healthy/productive). Also, if the cost is too high for any of them down the line…hopefully Braves Management would have done A GOOD JOB of restocking the lower minors in the next few years (via The Draft AND via trading any established pitchers who may not be able to crack our Starting 5..however have value in trades).

I keep reading on other blogs about their take that The Braves ‘should’ start trading from our ‘surplus’ now! However the problem with that is 1. we have PROSPECTS…NOT a ‘surplus’ in our MLB rotation right now. 2. our prospects will have MORE trade value once they’ve reached Triple A (or shown promise in Atlanta in limited starts). If The Braves were to any of our Double A or Class A pitchers…we’d have to trade like 3 or 4 of them in order to get an ‘established’ MLB player. However, hypothetically speaking..let’s say that Soroka and/or Allard got promoted and excelled in their 6 or 7 ‘cups of coffee’ starts at the end of The 2018 Season (similar to how Gohara performed at the end of 2017 in his 5 ‘cups of coffee’ starts). What do you think The Braves could get…for JUST Gohara? Heck…what do you think The Braves could get for JUST Ronald Acuna (who has yet to have one single MLB at-bat)…vs. what we could get for Christian Pache? Now if Pache has a similar 2018 that Acuna had in 2017…then his trade value would SKYROCKET. Sure, there’s always the risk of a player ‘flaming out’ and getting NOTHING for him. However, if you trust your scouts…then keep the prospects. If you dont..then trade the players and FIRE the scouts…simple as that! Judging from the progression of our young talent the past couple of years…I TOTALLY TRUST our scouts (and Coppy too, but that’s ‘another’ discussion, lol).

Look at how many people on ‘other blogs’ who wanted to trade Ozzie Albies as part of a package for an ‘ace’ like Sale, Quintana or Archer? I’m glad that Coppy REFUSED to part with Albies. Albies is a switching hitting, fast, deceptive power hitting 2nd baseman who should be our Jose Altuve for AT LEAST the next 6 seasons! He’s only 21 years old!

I couldnt help but crack up at how The TC CLOWNS initially complained about the ‘hoarding/drafting’ of mostly young, starting pitching via draft/trades going into The 2016 Offseason (lamenting that Coppy was going to keep drafting pitchers in The June 2017 Draft..which he did, lol). Then, when Coppy trades away Max Provse and Rob Whalen for Alex Jackson and Tyler Pike..they BITCHED because of how ‘certain stats’ stated that Provse and Whalen were potentially ace-like. Then when Shae Simmons and Mallex Smith were traded for Luiz Gohara and Thomas Burrows….all hell broke lose (a number of those TC CLOWNS had serious ‘man-crushes’ on Mallex Smith, lol..in addition to being ‘in love’ with Simmons late inning possibilities).

I’m not totally sold on either Riley or Jackson being ‘long term answers’ for The Braves. Up until mid-2017, Riley has his ‘hot/cold’ struggles. If Riley can duplicate in 2018 his 2nd half of 2017 AND AFL performance…then I’ll rethink my position that The Braves should go after Machado. While I LOVE Jackson’s power….he’s still far from a finished product as a catcher. He may end up being traded to an AL team once he excels in Triple A and gets a few ‘cups of coffee’ MLB at-bats (which would increase his trade value) IF he cant develop as a catcher defensively.

While Riley may develop into a ‘decent’ 3rd baseman…..is he someone who can ‘make a difference/be a 30 homer a year type that PUTS FEAR into opposing pitchers’? The reasons why I keep harping on The Braves being BOLD and going after Harper and Machado….is because I KNOW that BOTH are difference makers AND that The Braves can AFFORD both GIVEN the payroll flexibility of having Freeman and Inciarte on BARGAIN CONTRACTS…as well as at least 15 pre-arbitration players SLATED to make SIGNIFICANT contributions in 2019, 2020 and 2021 (and probably beyond…given the talent we will have starting the year in High Class A..and even in Lower Class A Rome).

At the least…let’s see how 2018 plays out (not only in Atlanta…but throughout The Minors). Our GM, AA, will have more than enough INFO to make some sound, crucial decisions come The 2018 Free Agent Offseason (which will play A HUGE ROLE in how our future plays out).

Jesus Christ…. THE BRAVES WILL NOT GET MACHADO. He will not sign to play 3B and he will choose the Yankees over any other suitor – probably even for less money. I’m just glad you weren’t GM in 1992 because you might have argued that Maddux was too expensive and the Braves should just stick with their “plethora” of young and cheap pitchers. Kershaw is a once in a generation pitcher. NONE of the Braves prospects can hope to be that good and reliable. If the Braves could go out and get Corey Dickerson for basically nothing right now then Harper would largely be redundant. Donaldson is too old to sign long term. Kershaw is the opportunity of a lifetime for the Braves and is a one-of-a-kind generational talent. I realize he may not even be available if the Dodgers do their due diligence. Every big spending team has cleared payroll this year to go after next year’s FA class. Playing that game will ultimately lead to disappointment. The only way for the Braves to be in a favorable position is to do some winning now so they can be attractive to next year’s free agent class. You will lose even if you offer 20% higher than everyone else for Machado and Harper. Maybe you have a chance for Donaldson but I think that would turn out to be a bad deal unless you could seriously limit the years.

I just went back 15 years and the Braves only signed four players (FOUR) to contracts of four years or longer – none longer than five. Wanna know who those four players were? Nick Markakis, BJ Upton, Dan Uggla, and Derek Lowe. Not an auspicious lot. (Note: Donaldson would fall into the same category as the above four) I am quite sure there were better free agents available over the last 15 years when the Braves were in the market, but the Braves were only able to sign these four. All their other big acquisitions were either extensions or trades. I’m guessing the last earth shattering FA signing the Braves made was Greg Maddux 26 years ago. Liberty Media will never spend the kind of money it will take to get next year’s free agents. And the Braves will not sign anyone for more than five years. Even Kershaw, at 31 when the 2019 season starts, will not be worth 10 years. Get real.

Roger….have you even looked the projected Braves 2019 Payroll (especially if The Braves end up trading Teheran by The July Trade Deadline)? Only $26 mil is committed (Freeman $21 mil, Inciarte $5 mil). Only Folty, Vizcaino, Winkler will be eligible for arbitration. Even if Flowers and Suzuki are re-signed, it’ll only cost a combined $7 mil at most.

At least 15 pre-arbitration eligible players are slated to make SIGNIFICANT contributors in 2019: Albies, Acuna, Swanson, Gohara, Soroka, Allard, Wright, Minter, Gomez, Carmago, Lane Adams, Newcomb, Fried, Sims and Jose Ramirez! 15 times $550k…that’s LESS than $8 mil COMBINED for 15 players! That’s 60% of the roster dude!

So let’s do some math here about how you think that The Braves ‘cannot’ afford to go after Machado, Harper and Kimbrel: $8 mil for 15 players…$21 mil for Freddie…$5 mil for Inciarte….$7 mil for Flowers/Suzuki….Folty at around $7 mil….Winlkler at $1.5 mil….(Vizcaino could very well be traded by The Trade Deadline). That’s ONLY a total of $49.5 mil for 21 players (I left open one bench spot for AA to fill). Pretty decent value for $49.5 mil in 2019.

However, The 2019 Braves would lack middle of the order POWER…and a Hammer to close games (Minter’s too young/has a injury history that makes it HELLA RISKY to totally depend on him to be our closer). So how would you ‘propose’ filling those three needs…IF you are DEAD SET against at least seeing The Braves ‘try’ to go after Harper, Machado and Kimbrel? Going after Kershaw would cost $40 mil (he aint signing for $35 mil to sign with The Braves…we’re going to OUTBID The Dodgers for him). Kershaw’s signing DOES NOT address the SERIOUS lack of power outside of Freeman hitting 3rd (Acuna is better suited to bat 2nd, in front of Freddie, because of his plus speed).

So please….tell me how what I’m proposing ‘doesnt work’ from a payroll perspective? I just CLEARLY EXPLAINED why it ‘could’ work (not saying that it The Braves ‘will’ go after them…saying that we ‘should’ go after them).

Interesting move by Tampa tonight. They designated for assignment, Corey Dickerson…28 years old, left handed hitting, right handed throwing right fielder (he isnt a FA until after The 2019 Season). Making $6 mil in 2018…in 588 at-bats in 2017, he hit .282 with 27 homers, 62 RBIs, .325 OBP, .490 Slugging % with 33 doubles, 4 triples.

From what I’ve read, his defense is only ‘so-so’. Tampa has 10 days to either trade him or release him (only owing him 30 days pay of his $6 mil 2018 salary). Either The Braves can trade for him (probably not giving up much of anything for him….I actually read some TC CLOWN ‘propose’ that we give up Matt Wisler AND Kolby Allard…for Dickerson, lol. That’s the kind of DOG SHIT one has to ROUTINELY read over there, lol…trading GOLD for DOG SHIT, lol).

Now I’m not saying that Dickerson is total ‘dog shit’…I’m saying that if The Braves can get him for ‘not very much’ (or..wait until he’s waved)…then Dickerson could prove to be a very ‘useful’ decently power bat in the lineup in a semi-platoon with Lane Adams (I’m not exactly ‘feeling’ Preston Tucker’, lol). Dickerson would get the majority of the at-bats, with Adams coming in late in games where The Braves have the lead (plus Adams can still hit some, lol)…AND Adams can play well against lefties (something Dickerson struggles against). Only paying Dickerson only a few mil…..would be a steal of a deal.

What are any of your thoughts on that? Tampa’s been HELLA BUSY TONIGHT with the trade front, lol. Ditching Ordonzzi to Minnesotat and Getting CJ Cron from The Angels…..

Like I said, if the Braves go out and get Dickerson then Harper would likely be redundant. The Braves surely need the HRs (he even had a .325 OBP) and he is still trending upward. His defense is better than you give him credit for.
Where he has lost value is playing CF; in LF his defense will look a lot better.
And he won’t be needed forever, only until Pache is ready. I never said the Braves couldn’t afford the big FAs, not once. What I said is that they won’t sign them even if they try. I don’t think they’ll hand out any contracts longer than five years based upon past history. The only contracts longer than that they have ever given out have also been co-opting arbitration years. Kershaw is the only target worth really concentrating on. Any other big move the Braves make will likely be via trade regardless of the payroll overhead available. All the big moves beyond the four I mentioned were via trade – Sheffield, Texeira, J Upton, Hudson, and others all via trade.

Oh, and BTW, if you don’t fully believe in Alex Jackson then we should be trading whatever we need to to get JT Realmuto to bridge to Wilson Contreras. Don’t discount JDM, he is currently rated as the 25th best player in the game by MLB.com. The real opportunities are this year when the competition is light. There are going to be no good “deals” next year and lots of intense competition.

Roger…..I DID NOT say that Jackson was ‘a bum with ZERO upside’! I stated that as of now, I’m not ‘completely sold’ on Jackson….AS A CATCHER! I love his bat as a catcher…however the jury is still out on his abilities behind the plate. That’s why 2018 is important for Jackson. He needs to show that he can at least be ‘average’ behind the plate (above average would be better). His plus bat can compensate for him not being ‘above average’ defensively…..however NOT if he is ‘below average’ behind the plate.

JDM is going to cost $175 mil to SIGN with The Braves…possibly $200 mil. We have to OVERPAY to get him. Boston will probably up it to around $150 mil/6 years (because of The DH). The Braves would end up with a STINKER on their hands come year 4 of the deal and beyond. With our young, high ceiling pitching…we need DEFENSE to rake behind them! If we’re going to ‘overpay’ for someone, I’d rather wait one more year and go after Harper.

JT Realmuto would cost TOO MUCH in pitching prospects (also, they will surely ask for Pache in any deal). If Flowers and Suzuki BOTH show in 2018 that 2017 was no fluke…why not keep each on a one year ‘rolling’ arrangement? Both players play better when the other one platoons with them. At this point in their careers, BOTH realize that NEITHER is a 120 game a season starting catcher. Flowers is probably good for 95-100 starts…while Suzuki probably good for 62-67 starts a year (can fluctuate, depending on matchup/how one or the other is streaking at the plate at any point of the season). Flowers and Suzuki, for a couple of seasons, bides time for the ‘long term’ catching situation to ‘work itself out’.

Roger, you can wish it differently all you want….however THE ONLY way that The Braves are going to be able to address their LACK OF POWER behind Freeman in this lineup..is by Free Agency! Simple as that! Dude, we’ll have the money! You keep revisiting the past like it’s some ‘end all to be all’ roadmap that means that The Braves can never deviate from! I perfer to look at The 1991 Season….where The Braves spent SIGNIFICANT MONEY (at the time, it was) during Free Agency to address/fill the holes in our lineup that we had…to go along with our STUD, young, high ceiling young starting pitching (along with a young David Justice, Ron Gant and other key long time role players like Jeff Blauser and Mark Lemke).

Roger, just relax and enjoy The 2018 Season. I’m keyed up to see how our young talent starts to show what 2019 COULD be about (as long as AA does his job and gets some help for Freddie Freeman to hit behind him in the #4-#5 spots of the order)! And dont forget our starting pitching and bullpen! Come September….Folty, Gohara (whose my pick to win Rookie of the Year in The NL), Soroka, Allard and Wright could very well END THE YEAR as our Starting 5 (while Teheran, who I expect to have a very good 1st half of 2018….after which he’ll generate a decent package of prospects to help fill the lower levels of the minors. This will be AA’s 1st opportunity to show that he’s AT LEAST Coppy’s equal when it comes to evaluating/plucking other team’s lower level MILB talent in trades). I also expect McCarthy to be traded by The Trade Deadline (if McCarthy does have a team option $5 mil left in 2019….subject to past injuries which should have kicked it in…then his trade value could go up IF he has a decent 1st half of 2018). Kazmir, not sure how he’s going to be handled. Ideally, if he comes out during Spring Training blazing….then Newcomb could start the year in Triple A while Kazmir ‘auditions’ in April-May to showcase to teams that he can pitch (given that The Braves are paying him $16 mil in 2018…they probably want to see if Kazmir has anything left in the tank/see if he has any trade value. The problem with that…is that it puts a crimp into giving Newcomb the full 2018 season to see if he has it in him to develop that 3rd pitch to get hitters out without needing 100 pitches to make it through the 5th inning.

Ultimately, I see Newcomb and Fried transitioning to The Bullpen for The Braves…..both being high leverage lefties who can not only get hitters out, but also pitch multiple innings!

Roger….let’s say that I’m TOTALLY OFF BASE….in that there is NO WAY that The Braves will be able to sign Machado AND Harper (and that with AJ Minter, Management takes the position that we dont ‘need’ Kimbrel). What then (do I propose then, lol)?

If opening up our wallets DO NOT entice Machado AND Harper to join Atlanta’s 2019 REBIRTH…..then I propose that we go in a DIFFERENT direction (meaning: 1. we reverse course and DROP OUT of The 2018 Free Agent Offseason ALTOGETHER)! Why? Because after Machado and Harper (BOTH of whom are in their age 25-26 seasons come The 2019 Season)….there’s a HUGE DROP OFF when it comes to ‘the age/length left of the careers of the other ‘top’ Free Agents remaining! I want NO PART of overpaying to get Donaldson, Blackmon, Pollock, Jones, etc. These guys are already 30 years old by the time The 2019 Season begins.

2. I would pull ‘a Coppy-like switch in direction/under the radar type of move/trading strategy….and go after teams with Jacoby Ellsbury-like contracts (in Ellsbury’s case, he would have to be willing to wave it, which he may be IF The Braves promised to IMMEDIATELY WAVE HIM afterward we trade for him). Now why would Braves Management be willing to take Ellsbury’s almost $70 mil/3 year contract left on his deal (we all know why The Yankees would LOVE to DUMP him onto Atlanta’s payroll: they need to clear his contract and go after possibly signing a Mike Moustakis to play 3rd (even if it is only for 1 year..but at something like $20-$25 mil for 2018..which would not only keep them under the $197 Luxury tax threshold, allowing them to sign Machado during The 2018 Free Agent Offseason WITHOUT having to pay a huge repeater tax…but also help The Yankees COMPETE in 2018 by having Moustakis’ bat in the line-up.

HOWEVER, the ‘generosity’ of The Braves to take on Ellsbury’s contract….WILL NOT COME CHEAP, lol! It isnt about ONLY the $70 mil over 3 years that The Yankees would be saving on Ellsbury’s contract…BUT ALSO getting UNDER the $197 Luxury Repeater’s tax. That…has IMMENSE VALUE that The Braves would be HELLA SMART to try and EXPLOIT THE HECK OUT OF, lol!

How does Atlanta expect to be ‘compensated’ for doing The Yankees such a HUGE favor? By taking on their #1 prospect Gleyber Torres, will be 21 by Opening Day…their best ranked SS/2nd…played at AAA last year. Torres is a STUD, he’ll either bump Swanson to 3rd or if Swanson rebounds in 2018, we bump Torres to 3rd.

Another player we get, is #13 ranked Bill McKinney, will be 23 by Opening Day…..big time power hitter in the outfield…played at AAA last year.

Also, we take their #14 ranked Matt Sauer, will be 18 by Opening Day…only played Rookie ball in 2017. Throws 97, has a really good curve and slider. Has loads of potential. He’ll be someone we can STASH in the lower Minors and give 4-5 years to develop down the line.

Also, we take their #21 ranked prospect Jake Cave, will be 21 by Opening Day….played at AAA last year. Cave has pop in his bat, at all levels, has good averages all across the board.

This type of “creative trade” would allow The Braves a couple of different options. We either use 3 of those 4 players that we acquired (except for Matt Sauer, because he’s years ago from MLB), to audition for our open spots in 3rd and left field….see if those prospects have what it takes to hit for power in our lineup and play good defense early in their careers!

OR…..we could package these guys to another team who is in need of an influx of young talent like these guys….however they have a young power 3rd baseman or outfielder whose a year or so away from arbitration…and they dont want to start paying him arbitration money….NOT if they can get 3 very talented, pre-arbitration players to ‘fill the holes in their lineup!

The player The Braves get back will obviously have one year left in pre-arbitration and eligible for arbitration raises. However, let’s say that the new guy comes out the box and does well….2 months in the season, Braves Management comes to him with a long term contract (if he’s worth it)? Possibilities there.

Now remember, we’ll still be paying a released Ellsbury over $21.1 mil a year in the 2018, 2019, 2020 Seasons (plus a $5 mil buyout of his $20 mil 2021 contract, lol). That’s almost $69 mil that The Braves would paying a MOFO who is released/not on the team after this trade went down. You better believe that The Yankees would have to PONY UP some prospects if they NOT ONLY wanted to get rid of that $69 mil..BUT ALSO AVOID paying the repeater’s tax that would result from them signing someone like Moustakis to play 3rd for them in 2018. Just saying……It needs to be SERIOUSLY WORTH The Braves While to do this trade! We would need those players…EITHER to keep and audition for those open spots in 3rd and left field….OR as trade bait to another team who wants those young players…however is willing to trade a young STUD before he starts to get too expensive for them.

I predict that our GM, AA, will more than likely go down that route…IF Harper and Machado BOTH REFUSE to come to Atlanta sign.

With the SERIOUS young talent bumrushing its’ way onto The Braves roster the next few years…..it is IMPERATIVE that our GM, AA, addresses the OBVIOUS hole at 3rd, Left field and Closer (dont talk that AJ Minter SHIT right now……until he shows that his back is totally healthy for the next few years……stuff it,lol. Look, I LOVE what Minter brings to the table…however he would have A HELLA LOT to learn from a Craig Kimbrel. Simple as that).

AA either does his deal and sways Harper, Machado and Kimbrel to sign with The Braves…OR….he will have to buckle down and ‘get HELLA creative’ and do the trade route to eventually get the right ‘guys’ to fill those holes. I just explained a PERFECT EXAMPLE of a ‘creative trade’. Sadly….the ‘creative trades’ DO NOT end there! MORE of them would need to be made! MLB teams are FULL of teams who have made TERRIBLE Signings over the years. For The Braves…those bad signings presents HELLA OPPORTUNIES! AA will have his opportunities to REMAKE/PUT HIS STAMP on The Finished Product that was The Rebuild that started under John Coppolella!

Paul, you’re starting to make a little more sense. I think you’re getting a little wild with the Ellsbury deal. It would likely go down as the Braves taking on part of the salary and getting a fraction of the prospects (not including Gleybar). To get a little more creative include Markakis in the trade. The Braves pay $10M this year and they split Ellsbury’s salary down the middle the next two years. So the Braves take on $30M not $60M and Ellsbury’s defense is an improvement over Markakis and he becomes more tradable for the Braves with the Yankees paying half his salary. We don’t want Gleybar so soon after his TJ surgery. I would go after Miguel Andujar who becomes redundant if they sign Moose or Machado (Gregorius moves to 3B). He’s MLB-ready and has a leg up on Riley. You don’t need Cave or McKinney because they are actually too close to the majors and only fringy prospects (neither may be better than Lane Adams who’s a better fielder). You could try for Sauer but I think Ellsbury and Andujar plus $20M for 2019/2020 for Markakis would be a plenty fine trade all by itself. If Andujar proves to be a stud at 3B in 2018 then we can entertain trading Riley. If Andujar flops, there’s still Riley for 2019 and Camargo for the rest of 2018. And one of Andujar or Riley becomes an excellent future trade piece. And Ellsbury is a nice fill-in for this year and becomes a decent 4th OF for the future should the Braves acquire or develop another. I’m not sure this would solve the HR problem, but it would certainly solve the 3B problem and improve OF defense. And by only increasing payroll $10M over three years (2018-2020), the Braves still have a lot of head room for playing the FA market next year anyway. And with that, I only have one word……………

Kershaw.

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