The Braves will head into the 2020 Offseason with some holes to fill in order to make this team even better heading into the 2021 Season, but who should they go for? I will go over who the Braves should resign and who they should sign from the Free Agent market.
Braves Free Agents
Here are the Braves Free Agents and whether or not we should resign them:
Marcell Ozuna: Yes Example Deal: 4 years, $90 million
Mark Melancon: Yes Example Deal: 2 years, $12 million
Cole Hamels: No
Shane Greene: Yes Example Deal: 2 years, $14 million
Tyler Flowers: No
Nick Markakis: No
Darren O'Day: Yes Example Deal: Minor-League Deal
Jhoulys Chacin: No
Adeiny Hechavarria: No
Felix Hernandez: Yes Example Deal: Minor-League Deal
Josh Tomlin: Yes Example Deal: Minor-League Deal
Pablo Sandoval: Yes Example Deal: Minor-League Deal
Bonus: Freddie Freeman: Of Course Example Deal: 5 years: $100 million
Free Agent Pickups
Here are some names the Braves should pick up off the Free Agent market:
2020 Stats: 11 G, 5-4, 1.73 ERA, 73 IP, 100 K, 0.79 WHIP, 2.7 WAR
Example Deal: 1 year, $24 million
Trevor Bauer is coming off arguably the best season of his career despite the shortened season, which will likely win him N.L Cy Young. He started Game 1 of the Wild Card against the Braves, striking out 12 in 7.2 innings, which didn't matter since the Reds offense forgot how to hit. The Braves have been able to perfect the 1-year deal in the last couple offseasons. In the 2018 offseason, the Braves gave Josh Donaldson a 1-year, $21 million deal while coming off an injury-riddled season. He went on to hit 37 home runs and 94 RBIs. Last offseason, the Braves signed Marcell Ozuna to a 1-year, $18 million deal. In a shortened season, Marcell led the NL in homers(18) and finished 3rd in AVG(.338). A 1-year deal for Trevor will give him a sense of what his market value is outside of a short season, and gives the Braves a veteran ace to compliment a young pitching rotation.
What if the Braves can't get Bauer?
Plan B: Marcus Stroman
2019 Stats: 32 G, 10-13, 3.22 ERA, 184.1 IP, 159 K, 1.30 WHIP, 4.6 WAR, All-Star
Example Deal: 2 years, $30 million
Marcus Stroman did not pitch in the 2020 season due to opting out, but his 2019 season was the best of his career. After making 21 starts with the Blue Jays, he was traded at the deadline to the Mets, and made 11 starts in the Big Apple. Stroman likely wouldn't resign with the Mets, and the Braves have already come out as a candidate to sign him. Like Bauer, Stroman will give the Braves a veteran who can be the No. 3 starter behind Mike Soroka and Max Fried.
Plan C: Jake Odorizzi
2020 Stats: 4 G, 0-1, 6.59 ERA, 13.2 IP, 12 K, 1.39 WHIP, -0.2 WAR
Example Deal: 1 year, $10 million
Jake Odorizzi had a limited sample size in 2020 due to injuries, but like Stroman, was an All-Star in 2019. He finished 2019 with a 15-7 record and a 3.51 ERA in 31 starts. He suffered from 3 different injuries in 2020, so I would give him a 1-year deal in case he preforms poorly, plus the Braves have perfected the 1-year deal in the past. Odorizzi was part of the big Zack Greinke trade as a minor-leaguer in 2010, and made his major league debut in 2010 with Kansas City, only to be apart of another big trade months later that sent him to the Rays. He had some pretty good years in Tampa Bay before being traded to Minnesota before the 2018 season. He could be the No. 3 or 4 starter in the Braves rotation and provide veteran experience for our staff.
Who else should the Braves go after?
2020 Stats: 3 G, 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 2 IP, 3K, 2.0 WHIP, 0.0 WAR
2019 Stats: 32 G, 2-0, 2.12 ERA, 29.2 IP, 33 K, 1.01 WHIP, 1.2 WAR
Example Deal: 3 years, $33 million
Keone Kela is yet another player who had a shortened 2020 due to injuries, but proved he was a reliable bullpen arm in 2019. Kela will enter his Age 28 season in 2021, and seems to be entering his prime. The Braves had a top 5 bullpen ERA in 2020, but had some problems in the NLCS against the Dodgers. Kela has some experience in the postseason, as he pitched in 4 postseason games in 2015 and 2016 with the Rangers as a rookie. Even with how good the bullpen was this year, it has shown time and time again in baseball that you can never have too much bullpen depth, especially in the postseason.
2020 Stats: .289 AVG, 7 HR, 15 RBI, .360 OBP, .536 SLG, .896 OPS, 1.2 WAR
Example Deal: 1 year, $7 million
With Travis d'Arnaud the outright starter at catcher and Tyler Flowers probably wouldn't be resigned, the Braves need a backup catcher. I don't think Alex Jackson or William Contreras are ready just yet and they probably need one more year in the minors. James McCann was a backup catcher to Yasmani Grandal on the southside of Chicago this season, and he proved to be a power bat in his limited appearances. He also gets on base, with a .360 OBP and .536 SLG in 31 games. With d'Arnaud's contract also expiring after the 2021 season, the Braves can decide which catcher to keep to mentor Jackson, Contreras, and Langeliers next offseason.
Braves Send: OF Ender Inciarte
Giants Send: 3B Jacob Gonzalez(prospect), P Kai-Wei Teng(No. 19 prospect)
I have the Braves sending Ender Inciarte to the Giants for 2 prospects. The Giants projected CF for Opening Day is currently Mauricio Dubon. Dubon is a slightly better hitter than Ender, but Ender has the better glove. Neither have much power, and Dubon had a little better average in 2020 than Ender. This trade will give Dubon some competition in Spring Training for the starting CF spot in 2021. If Dubon wins the job, Ender can be used for late-inning defense, which the Braves utilized in 2020. If Ender doesn't pan out for the Giants, they can decline his 2021 option. As for the Braves, we only have one true 3B prospect in the organization, so Jacob Gonzalez will give a little depth. Kai-Wei Teng would be added to even out the trade. The Braves have a lot of pitching depth in the organization, and Teng would add another arm in the minors. The Braves have plenty of outfielders and Pache and maybe even Waters are ready to play in the majors. Both have the equivalent of Ender's glove for late game situations and both are better hitters than Ender.
2021 Opening Day Lineup Bench
1: Ronald Acuna Jr RF James McCann C
2: Freddie Freeman 1B Adam Duvall OF
3: Marcell Ozuna LF Charlie Culberson UTL
4: Travis d'Arnuad C Pablo Sandoval 3B
5: Ozzie Albies 2B Drew Waters OF
6: Dansby Swanson SS
7: Austin Riley 3B
8: Cristian Pache CF
9: Max Fried P
Pitching Staff Bullpen
1: Max Fried LR: Tyler Matzek
2: Mike Soroka MR: A.J Minter
3: Bauer/Stroman/Odorizzi MR: Darren O'Day
4: Ian Anderson MR: Shane Greene
5: Felix Hernandez MR: Keone Kela
MR: Will Smith
SU: Chris Martin
CL: Mark Melancon
Thank you guys for checking out my article. Let me know what you think about these moves and whether or not you would make any changes. Make sure to follow me on Instagram @braves.champion and look out for more articles in the future!