Will the 2017-18 Offseason be Known as the One that Got Away?

Will the 2017-18 Offseason be Known as the One that Got Away?

The 2018 Atlanta Braves Offseason has been fun, eh? Yes, the most important thing that needed to happen did happen: the riddance of Matt Kemp. But what else? Not much. The Braves are looking at testing their prospect depth to the fullest in 2018 and that is at least cheer-worthy.

Projecting the 2018 Atlanta Braves

Yeah, about that. Projecting wins for any team in any given year is educated guesswork based on formulas and trends. But this year, the Braves and their projections are even more guesswork than the norm.  Want to know why? Here are 20 reasons:

 

  1. Ronald Acuna
  2. Ozzie Albies
  3. Dansby Swanson
  4. Johan Camargo
  5. Luiz Gohara
  6. Rio Ruiz
  7. Lane Adams
  8. Preston Tucker
  9. Sean Newcomb
  10. Scott Kazmir
  11. Max Fried
  12. Lucas Sims
  13. A.J. Minter
  14. Dan Winkler
  15. Akeel Morris
  16. Jacob Lindgren
  17. Anyelo Gomez
  18. Jesse Biddle
  19. Adam McCreery
  20. Ricardo Sanchez

Sure there are educated guesses for the above 20 guys that predict their success or lack thereof for each season, but since these guys aren’t proven commodities, it’s basically anyone’s guess. And truth of the matter is, people that watch them on a regular basis might be able to predict the performances of these guys better than the mass predictors out there. But here are the kickers…

 

Where Projections go to Die

 

  • Lane Adams and Rio Ruiz both worked out this offseason with the guy that transformed J.D. Martinez into the guy that just received a $110MM contract. He’s known as the swing doctor and has made millions making other’s millions.
  • Both Ozzie Albies and Johan Camargo added more muscle this offseason and Camargo, especially, saw a huge unprecedented power surge last season and in the Winter Leagues.
    Ozzie Albies hits for the Gwinnett Braves.
    G-Braves Media
  • Breakouts through advanced analytics- With Alex Anthopoulos in-tow, the Braves are going to be using a much more analytical approach in-game and in preparation. We may see pitchers completely ditching pitches they’ve thrown regularly and actually see a (forced) competent Snitker go away from his gut and listen to Walt Weiss‘s advice and choose the numbers. Put it mildly, the Braves should have a coach in Snitker that always has their back and a bench coach in Weiss that aids in putting the players in situations to succeed.

There are so many other pieces of the puzzle: Will Fried carry over his stuff and confidence he found late season and in the AFL? Will Newcomb lower his BB-rate? Can Dansby rebound and be the player the Braves advertised him to be in 2017? Nearly every person that has less than 2 years of experience has question marks, both good and bad, that are danged near impossible to predict. So whether it’s 70, 75, or 80 wins that this team is predicted to win, don’t get caught up in it as the formulas cannot factor in the human aspect of these young players.

All About the Benjamins, Baby!

There are several Braves faithful that calculate the payroll. Between those guys and other outlets, we can at least get a ballpark of where the Braves currently sit. Here’s some discrepancies in the numbers:

 

  1. Alan Carpenter of Tomahawk Take has the Braves payroll around 104 million.

2. Braves Options Guy has the payroll coming in at 99 million.

3. Cots Contracts has the payroll at ~116 million.

4. Spotrac comes in more conservative than Cots at 104 million (matching Alan)

Payroll calculations are fascinating. I won’t get into the details of why there’s so many different sums but it’s not all cut and dry as deferrals, bonuses, unknowns (like the Chris Stewart contract) throw a debate into the sum. But one thing is for sure and that is the 2018 payroll comes in at a significantly less sum than the 2017 payroll, and that even factors in the dead weight the Braves took on in 2018 to unload Matt Kemp‘s 2019 albatross.

The 2018 Dilemma of the Atlanta Braves

So in that is where the dilemma of this offseason comes in.  There are SO many free agents that are still unsigned. Starting Pitchers, Outfielders, Infielders, Relievers…it’s all there. There’s also a surplus of SP arms that the Braves have in the organization that will be filtered out one way or the other. Whether we as fans agree with the way it would’ve been done, there was…and still is, a way to make this team better.

Sure, there’s argument to give the kids a shot like Camargo at 3rd base. There’s also argument that landing a guy like Neil Walker to play 3B 100 or so games and let Camargo patrol around the infield 100 games could have been a great way to use the infield depth. And sure, we’ve got Acuna likely making his debut mid-April, but was/is it really out of the realm to trade 1 or 2 pieces of non-impact depth for Hunter Renfroe and/or Corey Dickerson and send Markakis away eating 2/3 of his salary?

It’s not happened.  And while I’d love for the Braves to push to be a Wildcard team this year, one thing is for certain: If they fall 2-3 games short at season’s end, we will all be left wondering what if they’d have cashed in on a slow market and upgraded the team by spending.

 

 

13 Comments

I agree with you. There are moves to be made that are forward looking that have yet to come to fruition. I hope that we are looking to make a move for OF prospect from Mil or Min to help fill the farm system or step in right away at LF. Both teams need decent starters at the ML level and have OF prospects at AA, AAA, and ML that they don’t need at the moment. A trade seems likely, but maybe FA signings and other things need to shake out before it happens.

Just be patient….by the end of Spring Training, there will be a number of Corey Dickerson/Hunter Renfroe type players cut/traded for pennies on the dollar. Our GM, AA, will have some opportunities to upgrade the lack of power WITHOUT sacrificing any of our best pitching prospects.

If anything, I see AA trading a few of our bullpen excesses who dont make Atlanta’s roster…for some hitting help (better to get ‘something’ for Renfroe-like players..than nothing).

I feel that Adrodys Vizcaino could very well be traded to a contender who really needs bullpen depth…IF some of our young gun bullpen prospects excel in Spring Training/earn their way onto Atlanta’s Roster. I’m not 100% sold on him being able to excel as a closer full time. He’d be a ‘sell high’ candidate (especially if AA keeps him to audition him as trade bait come the summer).

Regardless, The 2018 Braves simply have too many question marks to be considered serious playoff contenders. We simply lack LEGITIMATE POWER behind Freddie (having Acuna hit behind Freeman….would be wasting his speed. Really, do you really want Acuna’s speed to be A NON-FACTOR when he bats with Freddie on 1st?). Having Albies/Acuna hit #1-#2 in front of Freddie….would make for a hella exciting top of the lineup. If anything…it would give Markakis a lot of RBI opportunities (especially if Freddie gets pitched around). Inciarte should be dropped in the order (Alibes would be A MUCH BETTER leadoff hitter/base stealer than Inciarte).

Like it nor not…the lack of legit power in the lineup behind Freddie…will not be addressed until The 2018 Free Agent Offseason. I DO NOT want to see Moustakis signed/clogging up the payroll for years to come!

Yep. It will get away without an upgrade at 3B or, at least, LF. I’d like to see the Braves get either Dickerson or Gomez. Either makes sense for different reasons. Dickerson because he’s got control and can fill an OF slot after Markakis leaves (Markakis to bench when Acuna comes up). Gomez on a one year deal to fill OF until Acuna arrives and then platoon with Markakis. 3B is a real conundrum. Moose on a one year deal with a mutual option would be real nice, but won’t happen. Same for Neil Walker, if he can even play 3B. Although, after reading how L. Adams (and went to the “swing doctor”) and Camargo have bulked up over the winter, I’m anxious to see if their profiles have changed/improved during Spring Training.

Roger….If the price was right, I’d be open to see Carlos Gomez signed to a one year contract. Also, I’d like to see Corey Dickerson signed (assuming that he ends up being released by Tampa). I’d have a platoon of Gomez and Dickerson in left, Inciarte in center, and Acuna in right (with Markakis either traded or released….he simply has NO POWER, and Braves Management should have NO PROBLEM releasing him if they can sign Gomez and Dickerson to platoon in left).

Gomez should be signed for around $5 mil….Dickerson around $3-$4 mil. That’s still less than what Markakis makes. That would leave Lane Adams as the 5th outfield/pinch hitter/pinch runner.

3rd base would still be an ‘unknown’…give the platoon of Ruiz and Carmago a chance (Carmago can still be the utility infielder on days that Ruiz starts if Swanson or Albies needs a day off). If Ruiz stinks up the place…then Braves Management will need to look elsewhere for a 3rd sacker.

This offseason will absolutely be looked back on as the one that got away. Mark it down. The Braves had a chance to sign JD Martinez, and passed. They could go out tomorrow and sign Moose, but they won’t. I’ll give you that neither guy alone would magically catapult the Braves into World Series contenders, but they’d make a difference. And at the end of the day, if you’re going to sign free agents, you have to sell them on the team. Look at what Washington did with Jayson Werth at the start of their run.

The Braves are playing a game they won’t win, because they’re not going to outbid some of the big market players gearing up for the big money free agents next offseason. Machado wants to be a Yankee, anyway. I expect Harper will head west.

I anticipate the Braves will end up spending on Josh Donaldson, because of the AA connection. He’ll end up costing a good bit more than Moose will, and he’ll decline faster. That’s going to be the real travesty when this offseason gets looked back on.

King, I believe in the kids, Riley in particular. After this year, LF is a black hole. I thought JDM would have been a good buy and would have allowed the Braves to avoid next year’s circus (or focus solely on Kershaw). I don’t think they should sign Donaldson at all. I agree that he will be in decline soon, but we don’t need him. We only need someone this year to bridge to Riley. A one year contract with a team or mutual option in case Riley has a problem developing. Moose might eventually take it considering the Yankees are out of the running for him. He doesn’t have much market left. I’m like Paul; I’d take either or both of Dickerson and Gomez although I think we only need one (I don’t think there’s space for both). If we get Moose for a year with an option, Acuna in LF, and Gokakis in RF, the bench will be Camargo, Gomez/Markakis, Flowers/Suzuki, and L. Adams. Culberson and Tucker out (Tucker can hang around until Acuna is called up). That is a good, really good, bench. If Swanson stinks then Camargo can play SS and Culberson can be UTIL. I would love to have both Dickerson and Gomez and trade Markakis but I don’t think there’s a market. Seems like Kazmir is already going to have to be released; I’m about 99.9% sure the Braves don’t want to release A. Gonzalez, Kazmir, and Markakis. That’s one heckuva lot of dead salary.

Roger, I hope Riley succeeds- but I’m also concerned about the club’s “Plan B” if he fails. If Riley doesn’t take another step forward this season, 3B is going to continue to be a black hole. And as much as I don’t want to see it, I can see AA going all-in on Donaldson in that event because he’ll command a shorter contract, due to his age.

I’m just of the belief that they shouldn’t hold a position for a prospect, unless it’s an uber prospect, ala Acuna. Having too many good players is never a problem. So I’d go four years on Moose, and I’d heavily front load the first two years the way the Padres did with Hosmer, and put an opt out in after the second year. It’d be a win for Moose, the Braves, and Riley because he wouldn’t be rushed.

I liked the JDM fit too, but I never heard one snippet connecting the Braves to him- so I knew it was a pipe-dream. Lol. I’d be content to see Dickerson and/or Gomez brought into the fold for this season, though. I could see that rounding out the team similar to how you laid it out.

I wish Mark Trumbo’s contract was a year shorter, because Markakis back to Baltimore for Trumbo would’ve seemed to make some sense based on needs, if the contract lengths matched. I can’t see the Braves just eating the Markakis contract though for the same reason you said. So they’re going to have to find a way to either fit him in, park him on the bench, or attach a low tier prospect to the deal to create a little positive value on him.

Ryan, check out his stats when he plays the field. Granted he’s no defensive wizard but Trumbo is a monster when he plays the field. He’s a lousy DH which is the position he should be playing. I argued for a Trumbo trade when it included Matt Kemp (because both had two years on their contract and the O’s would love some of the Braves fringiest prospects). I thought it would be a good change of scenery trade for both. Kemp might be a great DH and Trumbo would be a better fielding LF than Kemp and a better hitter when not DH’ing. Moot now.

King, I’m sorta OK with a 2-year Moose contract but the Braves should hold the option on the out years. I do think Moose would be a better choice leaving more flexibility for the Braves for the future.

Ryan, as Roger pointed out, Trumbo’s a much improved player when he’s in the field. The O’s need a LH hitting OF to balance their order, and the Braves could use a RH hitter with some pop. If Trumbo’s contract didn’t have that extra year, it’d probably be the perfect way to offload ALL of Nick’s contract. Heck, if the O’s would pay half of Trumbo’s salary for next season, I don’t know that I still wouldn’t take a look at that if I were AA. Trumbo at 5-6 million wouldn’t be crippling next season as a reserve 1B/OF/PH if the Braves land a good OF- and he’d be solid insurance if they didn’t. Zero chance it happens, though- unless I make do the deal on MLB the Show this year. Lol.

Roger, my thought was if the Braves structured the contract over 4 years, and maybe paid him 20 million per the first two seasons, and 10 million per for the last two if he opted into them- he almost assuredly opts out, essentially making it a 2 year deal. I wonder if he might take a straight two year deal though if the AAV was high enough? If you’re Moose, and you could collect 45-50 million over two years, and re-enter FA at 31, after Machado and Donaldson land, you’re not in a bad spot.

To directly answer the question of this article….I feel that the question could be a resounding YES…IF The Braves DO NOT eventually sign Corey Dickerson AND trade for Hunter Renfroe (without giving up very much in return).

I think I predicted yesterday that The Braves could sign Carlos Gomez for around $5 mil (he ended up signing today with Tampa for $4 mil plus a few ‘incentives’). His signing pretty much ENDS Corey Dickerson staying with Tampa (especially not with Denard Span and his $11 mil 2018 salary….and with Mallex Smith in the wins to play Center as well. The only thing ‘good’ that can come from The Gomez signing…is that UNLESS some other team STUPIDLY wants to take Dickerson off The Rays hands WITHOUT Tampa having to eat any of the 30 day termination pay….it means that Dickerson will be an unrestricted Free Agent!

That would mean that The Braves could sign Dickerson to a $3-$4 mil a year deal (or better yet…something like a 2 year/$10 mil deal (with one year being an option year for The Braves, like a $4 mil guaranteed 1st year/$6 mil option 2nd year deal). Dickerson is precisely the buy low, potentially high upside power hitter that The Braves need for 2018 IF they have any chance to compete for a playoff spot.

Perhaps not being able to sign Gomez was a ‘good thing’. Perhaps AA will be able to pry away the likes of Renfroe from The Padres WITHOUT giving away very much in return. I’d very much like to see a platoon of Renfroe and Dickerson in left field….with Acuna in Right once he gets promoted towards the end of April….during which, unless Markakis is off to some sort of HELLA HOT START (which would hopefully make him ‘tradeable’ to a team that is at least willing to eat some of his 2018 $10.5 mil salary), The Braves should at least immediately trade him to some team willing to do the best ‘bag of balls’ request possible…or just simply RELEASE Markakis IMMEDIATELY. No room for a ‘noodle bat’ in this lineup from an outfielder…even on the bench. Inciarte at least can steal a few bases and keep his average around .300…while playing GOLD GLOVE DEFENSE!

2018 Projected Braves Lineup with my moves:

1. Ozzie Albies……2nd
2. Ronald Acuna….RF
3. Freddie Freeman….1st
4. Renfroe/Dickerson….LF (platoon/depending on who is pitching)
5. Ender Inciarte…..CF (I know,not ideally much power……)
6. Flowers/Suzuki…C
7. Ruiz/Carmago….3rd (I know, not the best platoon……)
8. Dansby Swanson….SS (even if he turns it around, I feel #8 is his comfort zone)

If The Braves could somehow find an affordable power hitting 3d baseman for 2018…I’d put him in the #5 slot and drop Inciarte to #7 (which would allow Carmago to be the ‘all world bench player’ he can be, lol)!). Perhaps Ruiz will open the year hitting like crazy…warranting a promotion to The #5 spot of the batting order, lol.

AA needs to get Dickerson AND Renfroe! Two decently priced young power hitters with decent control options. It is moves like this..that will determine how good of a GM AA really is! The Matt Kemp Trade was a nice 1st Trade…..follow it up with these two moves, AA!

Yes. The braves missed this off season—when they could push forward. There are so many free agents out there. Car go would be a fit—Carlos gomez could never be a brave. He is straight toxic. I’d rather see what we have with carmargo at 3rd and lane and tucker in left. Boring I know.

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