Prior to the emphatic comments by Braves general manager John Coppolella in which he denied that his team will trade Freddie Freeman, Freeman’s name came up in trade talks with the Astros, three sources told Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. The scenario being discussed is described by Passan as a blockbuster that would’ve included five other players, but he also adds that the discussions “went nowhere” when Freeman’s name was brought up. Passan goes on to examine the Braves’ rebuild situation, noting that the team is poised not only to pick third in next year’s draft but is also rumored to be preparing for massive expenditures on the international prospect front, as others have suggested as well. While there’s risk in centering a rebuilding effort around young pitching due to the generally volatile nature of pitching prospects, the Braves are doing so at a time when the next winter’s free-agent market is bereft of quality arms, which could prevent them from the feeling the frantic need to add arms that so many clubs experience each winter.
A few more notes on the Braves…
- Despite the re-signing of A.J. Pierzynski, the Braves haven’t given up on young catcher Christian Bethancourt, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Both Coppolella and president of baseball operations John Hart spoke highly of Bethancourt when asked by Bowman, but as he writes, few foresaw the defensive struggles Bethancourt has endured in his young career. Bethancourt’s arm — given an 80-grade by some scouts — has lived up to the hype, but he he’s surrendered 14 passed balls in just 73 games as a Major League catcher. His rate of one every 44 innings is far and away the most frequent in the Majors, as Tyler Flowers‘ rate of one every 80.4 innings was the next most-frequent among catchers with 600+innings in 2015, Bowman points out.
- David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, meanwhile, offers a different take on the Braves’ opinion of Bethancourt (Twitter link). O’Brien notes that in spite of whatever kind words the Braves will publicly make in regards to Bethancourt, his sense is that the organization now believes that, in hindsight, he was overrated as a prospect. The team, of course, won’t say that, but Bowman did note in the above-linked column that it was somewhat telling when Bethancourt started only 14 games after being recalled from the minors in August last season.
- Braves 2015 first-round pick Kolby Allard underwent a second back surgery after the completion of the Gulf Coast League season, the Braves blog ChopCounty.com first reported (Twitter link). MLB.com’s Mark Bowman spoke to a Braves official who said that this surgery was less severe than the last operation that Allard underwent to repair his back (Twitter link). A stress reaction in Allard’s back suffered back in March caused his draft stock to slip, as he had previously been considered a potential top five pick. Allard lasted until the Braves’ No. 14 pick, and he threw six innings of one-hit ball with 12 strikeouts and no walks in his small sample of GCL action after signing.