The latest out of the ATL….
- Michael Brantley and Wilson Ramos are near the top of the Braves’ list of potential free agent targets, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Bowman this week. Given the two players’ age and injury histories, however, Bowman feels Brantley and Ramos are “nothing more than secondary options” for Atlanta at this point. At this early juncture in the offseason, the Braves (and every other team) are likely making inquiries about just about every free agent that fits their needs, so it’s too soon to say whether Atlanta will end up strongly pursuing Brantley and/or Ramos. The pair are fits for the Braves on paper, as Brantley could replace Nick Markakis in the outfield while Ramos could take over behind the plate from free agent Kurt Suzuki.
- Also from Bowman’s mailbag piece, he speculates that “it would at least make sense for” the Braves to test Ender Inciarte’s value on the trade market before age starts to hamper Inciarte’s defense and baserunning. Inciarte only recently turned 28, and there has yet to be much evidence that either his stellar glovework (+7.4 UZR/150, +17 Defensive Runs Saved in 2018) or his work on the basepaths (+6.1 BsR as per Fangraphs’ baserunning metric, though he did only succeed in 28 of 42 stolen base chances last year) is slipping whatsoever. That said, Inciarte has been a below-average hitter and run creator over his career, and actually took a step back at the plate in 2018, hitting just .265/.325/.380 over 660 PA. Since the Braves have another outstanding center field option in Ronald Acuna, it would be a bold but potentially wise move to sell high on Inciarte, as several teams would jump at the chance to add a player with his speed and defense, not to mention his affordable contract (owed $20MM through 2021, plus a club option for 2022). Bowman notes that Atlanta would only move Inciarte for “a significant return,” of course, though the team figures to be open to just about all trade options, with Acuna and Freddie Freeman perhaps being the only true untouchables in the organization.
- As per the most recent quarterly earnings disclosure from Liberty Media (the Braves’ ownership group), the team’s $410MM in revenues for the first nine months of 2018 has already surpassed their $386MM total from all of 2017, Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. The move to SunTrust Park for the 2017 season led to an enormous jump in revenues (from $262MM in 2016), and as one might expect, the Braves’ run to the NL East title this season resulted in “increased ticket prices, higher attendance and increased concessions per turnstile” from July through September, as per Liberty Media’s report. It remains to be seen if this revenue jump will manifest into a larger payroll for the Braves this offseason. GM Alex Anthopoulos said during the summer that “there’s no single player that we can’t afford” while discussing possible trade deadline acquisitions, though a midseason pickup is certainly different than a multi-year free agent, expense-wise.