The Braves are still interested in free agent outfielder Angel Pagan, reports Jim Bowedn of ESPN and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, citing a club source (Twitter link). Atlanta has been tied to Pagan at various points this offseason. The 35-year-old Pagan has reportedly been holding out for a Major League deal that’ll pay him in the neighborhood of $5MM, however, which seems unlikely at this juncture. Fleet-footed Emilio Bonifacio has won a spot on the Atlanta roster as a backup outfielder, but Pagan has quite a bit more experience and could serve as a backup at all three positions, deepening the Atlanta bench, if the two sides are ultimately able to agree to a deal. Pagan hit .277/.331/.418 in 453 plate appearances with the Giants last year — a solid effort, especially when considering the pitcher-friendly nature of AT&T Park.
More on the Braves…
- Flamethrowing setup man Mauricio Cabrera will begin the season on the 10-day disabled list, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter). While that’s an unfortunate blow to the Atlanta relief corps — Cabrera posted a 2.82 ERA and averaged 100.1 mph on his fastball in 38 1/3 innings as a rookie in 2016 — the good news is that there’s no indication of any structural damage in the 23-year-old’s elbow. Bowman suggests that Cabrera is simply dealing with some arm fatigue that requires some additional rest. Bowman first noted last week that Cabrera was in jeopardy of opening the year on the shelf.
- David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution conducted an excellent Q&A with always-candid Braves general manager John Coppolella. Within, Coppolella discusses his team’s offseason moves at length, as well as his team’s top-ranked farm system and the impact of SunTrust Park on the timeline of his team’s rebuild. Coppolella notes that the decision to add R.A. Dickey, Bartolo Colon and Jaime Garcia on one-year commitments was made in an effort to spare the ’pen and avoid the same cavalcade of roster shuffling the Braves had to go through in 2016 just to get through the season. “There were so many times last year where our pitcher would be knocked out before the fourth inning and you absolutely decimate your bullpen and end up having to make three or four roster moves each day,” Coppolella explains. “We rushed some pitchers up here who weren’t ready and, candidly, some who were just not good.”
- Also in the Q&A, Coppolella touches on the late acquisition of Brandon Phillips and how that will (or won’t) impact the timeline for top-rated infield prospect Ozzie Albies to crack the Majors. “We expect a big year for Brandon and also expect it will have very little impact on when we call up Ozzie,” says the GM. “Ozzie is going to tell us when he is ready, and he needs to play, be completely healthy, and dominate Triple-A.” Coppolella also suggests that Albies doesn’t immediately need to be locked into one position upon arriving in the Majors due to his athleticism and versatility. “Ask the Cubs about Javier Baez,” says Coppolella when explaining how a versatile young talent can mesh with veteran pieces.
- Coppolella also discusses Atlanta’s wealth of top-tier pitching prospects. While he neglects to single out specific arms on which he’s especially bullish, Coppolella assertively states that in terms of potential top-of-the-rotation arms, the Braves stand alone: “…with all due respect, we can confidently say we have more than any other team — and it’s not even close.” Those who have yet to read O’Brien’s Q&A in its entirety — even if you’re not a Braves fan — are highly encouraged to do so.