- Appearing at a team-sponsored event, GM Alex Anthopoulos discussed the status of the team’s roster-building efforts, as attendee and SB Nation contributor Stacy Marlow documented (Twitter links). Unsurprisingly, he did not divulge much in the way of specifics, but did provide some worthwhile snippets. Anthopoulos suggested the team was not heavily engaged on a “quiet” catching market, but would not rule out a move if the right opportunity comes along. He also seemingly reiterated a familiar stance on free agent outfielder Nick Markakis, indicating that the sides are still keeping an open line and weighing a reunion.
- The Braves relief unit is certainly an area of potential improvement, but Anthopoulos’s comments suggest he has been lying in wait in hopes of securing good value in that area. He says that he only just spoke with a free agent reliever for the first time recently, indicating that the club has not been in on the quality pitchers that have already signed — many of them for fairly hefty salaries. Anthopoulos added that his expectation is that contract demands will begin to drop as Spring Training approaches. As we’ve often discussed over the past two years, teams are exhibiting much greater patience in free agency. Whether players and their agents can match that discipline and regain some leverage remains to be seen.
- Most tantalizing, however, were Anthopoulos’s comments regarding one possible swap that’s evidently in the works. “There’s one trade concept right now that 70% of the deal we would agree to, the 30% is probably where we are going back and forth,” he said. “I don’t know if we are going to get it done, but the main piece of the deal I think we ultimately would be ok, it’s the add on.” Certainly, this not-yet-completed arrangement could involve any number of possible players, but it’s at least notable to learn that there could soon be some action.
- One significant factor in the development of the offseason for the Braves, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link), is the team’s hesitation to part with a draft selection to sign a player who declined a qualifying offer. There were six such players, only two of whom have signed to this point. Several are at least hypothetical targets for Atlanta, with the team reportedly showing real interest in outfielder A.J. Pollock. Rosenthal writes that the Braves are worried about the draft compensation that would be required to land Pollock — in their case, a second-round pick that’ll end up being sixty-something overall. Specifically, he says, the Braves “value the selection more than most clubs” because of the amateur talent penalties the team was slapped with in late 2017. If that is indeed a position the team itself holds, it’s somewhat less than compelling. The Braves certainly aren’t alone in valuing draft selections. Like their competitors, they must consider the future talent pipeline. It’s especially tough to see the club as uniquely situated when it still possesses a bounty of young talent at the major and minor league levels.
- One possibility that’s seemingly still on the table for the Braves is a move to land Sonny Gray of the Yankees. Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently discussed the concept, on the heels of a report from Jon Heyman of Fancred (Twitter link) that suggested the Braves could still be pursuer as the New York org again tries to make a deal on the veteran righty. As Burns explains, it’s not exactly a perfect fit, given Gray’s recent struggles and the Braves’ own needs, but it’s possible to imagine a match and the org has clearly shown prior interest. What’s most interesting, perhaps, is what a hypothetical acquisition of Gray would mean for Julio Teheran — another still-youthful, not-inexpensive starter who is looking to regain his prior form. Understandably, the Braves do not appear to view the rotation as the first order of business. The opening in right field no doubt remains the top priority, with some of the other possibilities discussed above arguably also rating as greater needs. All said, there’s still quite a bit of work to do this winter for Anthopoulos and co.