New Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke to reporters (including MLB.com’s Mark Bowman and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien) about his team’s offseason shopping list, which includes a third baseman, bullpen help, and a controllable starting pitcher. The “backdrop of everything” with the Braves’ plans, Anthopoulos stressed, is an improved defense. “If we can improve in just one area defensively, we’re going to make 12 or 13 guys on that [pitching staff] a lot better,” the GM said. As Bowman points out, this would seem to hint that Matt Kemp or Nick Markakis could be moved, as both outfielders posted subpar fielding numbers last season. It may still be a while before we see one of Anthopoulos’ signature major trades, however, as he said he is still familiarizing himself with Atlanta’s baseball operations department after only a few weeks on the job. While he wouldn’t rule out some notable moves, “I would say my thought for Year 1 would be a more cautious approach,” Anthopoulos said. He also believed that the Braves’ payroll would likely remain around the $130MM mark.
Some more rumblings from around the NL East…
- With the Braves looking for third base help, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro believes they could at least be open to a trade for the Marlins’ Martin Prado. One would think Miami would have to eat a big chunk of the $28.5MM owed to Prado through 2019 to make any trade involving the veteran work, as Prado was limited to just 37 games last season due to hamstring injuries and knee surgery. The well-respected Prado would be a good leader within a young Atlanta clubhouse, however, and Prado has a long relationship with the Braves after spending his first 10 pro seasons in the organization.
- In two other tweets, Frisaro notes that the Marlins may be better served by trading Christian Yelich, even though the team’s “sentiment…is to retain” the young outfielder. Getting a big haul of talent in an “overpay situation” for Yelich would greatly help Miami restock its farm system, plus Frisaro cites the factor that Yelich may simply be tired of playing for losing teams. While Yelich’s name has surfaced in trade speculation, the Marlins are in no particular rush to deal him; the outfielder is locked up on a contract that runs through at least the 2021 season.
- The Nationals got a lot of production off the bench from Howie Kendrick and Adam Lind last year, and GM Mike Rizzo told MASNsports.com’s Pete Kerzel and other reporters that he is open to a reunion with either player. Playing time could be an issue, as while both Kendrick and Lind saw significant action in 2017, they theoretically wouldn’t be used as much next year since the Nats expect better health throughout their lineup. The two veterans could therefore try to sign for teams that could promise them more regular at-bats.
- The Mets and Orioles have had some talks about Matt Harvey, and while Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com is “all for [the O’s] taking a flier on Harvey,” doing so in a trade for Brad Brach would be ill-advised from the Orioles’ perspective. Dealing a proven quality reliever like Brach is too much of a risk, since Harvey is a question mark after two injury-plagued down years. Fortunately for Connolly’s concerns, a Brach-for-Harvey trade doesn’t seem to be a likely possibility.