MLB Trade Rumors » » Atlanta Braves Thu, 18 Jan 2018 15:49:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Marlins Reportedly Asked Braves For Acuna In Yelich Talks Thu, 18 Jan 2018 05:27:12 +0000 Despite Christian Yelich’s unhappiness with the Marlins’ direction and the recent comments from his agent to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick indicating that the relationship between team and player is “irretrievably broken,” the Marlins maintain an understandably high asking price on the 26-year-old. MLB Network’s Peter Gammons uses the Braves as an example of that lofty asking price (video link), reporting that the Marlins at one point informed Atlanta that they’d be willing to talk about a multi-player package that would send Yelich to the Braves if and only if top prospect Ronald Acuna was the headliner of the deal. (Braves fans will undoubtedly scoff at the very notion, though it’s hardly a surprise to see the Marlins pushing for any team’s top-ranked prospect when peddling five years of Yelich at a maximum total of $58.25MM.)

Unsurprisingly, Gammons quickly adds, “That’s one guy the Braves are not going to trade,” in reference to Acuna. Despite the drama surrounding Yelich and teammate J.T. Realmuto, Gammons notes that the Marlins aren’t locks to deal the pair, with Yelich being especially difficult to pry away given the affordable half-decade of control he has on his contract.

Braves Acquire Shane Carle Wed, 17 Jan 2018 21:25:03 +0000 The Braves announced that they’ve acquired right-hander Shane Carle from the Pirates in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Pittsburgh had designated the 26-year-old Carle for assignment over the weekend in order to clear space on the roster for the players acquired from Houston in the Gerrit Cole trade.

Carle made his Major League debut with the Rockies in 2017, tossing four innings and surrendering three runs on six hits and no walks with four strikeouts. It’s not a lengthy sample, to be sure, but Carle’s fastball averaged a healthy 93.6 mph in that short time. The 2013 10th-round pick (by the Pirates) spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A in Colorado, where he struggled to a 5.37 ERA in a hitter-friendly setting. Carle averaged 7.3 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 with a 43.9 percent ground-ball rate in Albuquerque — his second go-around at that level.

Though the Pirates were the team to initially draft Carle, this is the second time they’ll trade him away to another organization. Pittsburgh traded him to Colorado in exchange for righty Rob Scahill about 18 months after he was drafted, only to pluck him back off waivers earlier this winter when the Rockies cut him loose. Carle has a pair of minor league options remaining, so the Braves can send him to Triple-A this spring without needing to expose him to waivers. Atlanta already had an open spot on its 40-man roster, so no corresponding move was necessary in order to accommodate Carle. The Braves’ 40-man roster is now at capacity.

Agent: Yelich’s Relationship With Marlins “Broken” Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:55:12 +0000 In the latest dose of Marlins-related drama, agent Joe Longo of Paragon Sports International, who represents Christian Yelich, tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that a trade of his client in the next month would be in the best interest of both team and player.

Longo states that he respects the Marlins’ long-term plan for a return to contention, but states that the “…plan shouldn’t include Christian at this point in his career.” Yelich’s relationship with the Marlins has been “irretrievably broken” and has “soured,” according to Longo, who goes on to speak about the disappointment that Yelich has felt in watching the Marlins’ new ownership group gut the roster in trades that have sent Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna elsewhere.

“The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and [Yelich] needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win,” Longo tells Crasnick. The agent goes on to explain that Yelich signed his seven-year, $49.57MM contract extension with the Marlins in a “completely different climate” — that is, one where the organization looked to be making a clear push to win in the short term. Yelich’s deal (which Longo and Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill discussed at length with MLBTR’s Zach Links back in 2015) was agreed upon in the same offseason that saw the Fish sign Stanton to a record-setting $325MM contract. New ownership, however, clearly has no intent of pushing for a division title in 2017 as payroll has been slashed by roughly $50MM.

Longo’s comments, of course, don’t ensure that a trade of Yelich will transpire before or during Spring Training. Such decisions are up to president of baseball operations Michael Hill and his staff, who needn’t feel pressure to move Yelich in the same manner as they did with regard to Stanton, Gordon and Ozuna. The Marlins’ payroll projection is inching closer to its reported target of roughly $90MM, and Yelich’s $7MM salary for the coming season isn’t especially burdensome. Moreover, the fact that Yelich can be controlled for another five years at a total of $58.25MM is a clear indicator that he’ll be an asset with considerable surplus value at virtually any point the Marlins decide to make him available.

Yelich is hardly the only player that is less than enthused about the notion of suiting up for a Miami club that looks destined for the NL East cellar. Catcher J.T. Realmuto’s agents have reportedly informed the Marlins that their client would prefer to be traded, and infielder Starlin Castro (acquired as a financial component in the trade that sent Stanton to the Yankees) is reportedly hoping to be dealt elsewhere before so much as playing a single game for the Marlins.

Per Crasnick, the Blue Jays, Braves, Dodgers, Angels, Padres, D-backs and Phillies are “among” the teams that have reached out to the Marlins to gauge the asking price for Yelich in a trade, though there are assuredly more team that have expressed interest. Toronto GM Ross Atkins recently suggested that virtually every team in the league would have interest in a Yelich trade, and reports have suggested that more than 15 teams have at least kicked the tires on the former Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner.

Yelich, just 26 years of age, is a career .290/.369/.432 hitter. He’s averaged 20 homers and a dozen steals over the past two seasons and has proven to be a capable center fielder or an elite defender in left field. Crasnick notes that Yelich himself may speak publicly in the coming days, and the column is stuffed with additional quotes from Longo. It’s well worth a full read-through, both for those that have been diligently tracking the Marlins’ offseason roller coaster and those who haven’t been monitoring the situation as closely.

Unresolved 2018 Arbitration Cases Sat, 13 Jan 2018 00:02:01 +0000 We’ve covered a whole lot of arbitration deals today, many of them reached before today’s deadline to exchange filing figures. Some other agreements have come together after team and player submitted their numbers. It’s still possible, of course, that these situations will be resolved before an arbitration hearing becomes necessary. (At this point, we seem to lack full clarity on teams’ approaches to negotiations after the filing deadline. And most organizations make exceptions for multi-year deals even if they have a file-and-trial stance.)

Some situations could even be dealt with in short order. As things stand, though, these unresolved arbitration cases could turn into significant hearings. (As always, MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration projections can be found here; you will also want to reference MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration tracker.)

Braves Avoid Arbitration With Dan Winkler Fri, 12 Jan 2018 21:10:22 +0000
  • The Braves reached a $3.4MM deal with righty Arodys Vizcaino, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). He’d been projected at $3.7MM. The Braves and righty Dan Winkler agreed to a $610K salary for the upcoming season, tweets Mark Bowman of Winkler tossed just 14 1/3 innings in the Majors this year as he made his way back from elbow surgery. He’d projected at $800K.
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    Braves Avoid Arbitration With Sam Freeman Fri, 12 Jan 2018 05:12:47 +0000
  • Braves lefty reliever Sam Freeman has agreed to a $1.075MM salary for the 2017 season, tweets Nightengale. After bouncing to the Braves, his fourth team in four years, Freeman turned in a terrific season and looks to have secured some stability heading into 2018. He’d been projected to earn $1.2MM.
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    Braves Release Adonis Garcia To Pursue KBO Opportunity Wed, 10 Jan 2018 20:52:23 +0000 The Braves have announced that third baseman Adonis Garcia was released to allow him to pursue an opportunity in the Korea Baseball Organization. Previous reports indicated that Garcia, who is represented by Don Nomura, had agreed to join Korea’s LG Twins.

    Garcia, 32, had carved out a significant role in Atlanta, though he missed significant time due to a finger injury and struggled at the plate in 2017. In the prior season, though, he saw near-regular time, turning in 563 plate appearances of .273/.311/.406 hitting.

    With the move, the Braves have parted with one possible option at third base. Just how they’ll fill it remains to be seen. At this point, youngster Johan Camargo — who emerged with an intriguing 2017 season — is perhaps the odds-on favorite to see most of the time. That said, the club may yet pursue alternatives on the open market or via trade.

    Braves Outright Luke Jackson Sat, 06 Jan 2018 02:53:11 +0000
  • The Braves announced yesterday that right-handed reliever Luke Jackson cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Gwinnett. Once a well-regarded prospect in the Rangers system, the now-26-year-old Jackson posted an ERA north of 6.00 and walked 16 batters in 24 1/3 innings with Gwinnett last season. He actually performed better in the Majors, logging a 4.62 ERA in 50 1/3 frames, albeit with pedestrian averages of 5.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 with a 45.2 percent grounder rate. Jackson does have a history of missing bats in the upper minors and did average 94.7 mph on his heater last year while running up a 10.2 percent swinging-strike rate, so there’s some hope that he could yet figure things out.
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    Nationals, Braves Interested In Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto Thu, 04 Jan 2018 17:59:07 +0000 11:59am: The Nationals, too, are interested in both Realmuto and Yelich, writes’s Joe Frisaro. The Nats’ interest in Realmuto has been previously reported by the Washington Post and, among others, though GM Mike Rizzo’s club hasn’t been prominently linked to Yelich due to its own strong collection of outfielders. Per Frisaro, the Nats could have interest in trying to land both players, though that’s likely true of many teams.

    Frisaro notes that the Marlins would covet both Victor Robles of the Nationals and the Braves’ Acuna, though both clubs would likely be reluctant to part with their top-ranked minor league talents. Rosenthal tweets that the Nationals would be loath to part with either Robles or fellow outfield Juan Soto, for instance. It’s a similar tale for the Phillies — an oft-cited Yelich suitor — as Frisaro writes that Rhys Hoskins would surely appeal to the Marlins, but it stands to reason that he’d be near untouchable after his stellar 2017 debut.

    Talks regarding both Yelich and Realmuto are expected to pick up next week, according to Frisaro.

    8:52am: Not only have the Braves called the division-rival Marlins to express interest in Christian Yelich (as has been previously reported), they’ve also tried to engage Miami in talks on catcher J.T. Realmutoper Jon Morosi of Talks between the two sides haven’t advanced too far in either case as of late, he notes, but it seems as though the Braves have some level of interest in attempting to pry one or both players out of South Florida. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution hears that the Braves have expressed interest in acquiring the pair, though he classifies it as doubtful that new GM Alex Anthopoulos would part with the overwhelming level of talent it’d take to land both players.

    Atlanta will trot out a pair of solid veterans on one-year commitments — Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki — to handle the bulk of their catching duties in 2018, whereas Realmuto and his remaining three years of control would give them a longer-term answer behind the dish. There’s a clearer spot for Yelich following the trade of Matt Kemp to the Dodgers, but Atlanta wants to leave space for top prospect Ronald Acuna to debut in an outfield corner as well. O’Brien speculates that perhaps the Braves could convince Miami to take on Nick Markakis and his salary if Martin Prado or another pricey veteran heads back to Atlanta in the deal.

    While both Yelich and Realmuto are immensely popular trade targets — Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes (subscription required/recommended) that “virtually every club” is interested in trading for Yelich — it seems that there was at one point some positive momentum between the two sides.’s Mark Bowman tweets that Atlanta and Miami “made some progress toward” a trade involving Yelich back at the Winter Meetings. The Marlins, though, pumped the brakes on talks a bit as they dealt with significant PR backlash from trading away the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna, according to Bowman. He does add that talks were expected to resume eventually.

    Certainly, acquiring even one of the two would require a massive haul. (Rosenthal, for instance, spoke to one exec who suggested that the Marlins could rightly ask three to four “genuine assets” in exchange for Yelich alone.) Acquiring both in one swoop would presumably require one of the largest packages of young, controllable talent in recent memory.

    Even after being stripped of a dozen prospects on the heels of their recent front office scandal, the Braves have one of the game’s strongest farm systems, though there are still untouchable players in the organization (O’Brien has tweeted more than once that Acuna simply is not available in discussing scenarios with his followers). On paper, then, it’s possible that the two sides could line up for a swap, though things are never quire so simple. Other factors to consider include the financial component of a deal, whether the Marlins would charge some type of premium for dealing their top two remaining stars to a division rival, and what type of splash the new Anthopoulos-led Braves front office wants to make on its first significant move in Atlanta.

    It’s worth stressing, again, that the Braves are merely one team that is interested in the pair of young Miami stars. In that same column, Rosenthal writes that the Nationals have already checked in on Realmuto, while the Astros “would figure to be interested” in the Miami backstop as well.’s Joe Frisaro wrote yesterday that upwards of  dozen clubs were in on Realmuto. As for Yelich, the Cardinals, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Giants, White Sox and even the outfield-heavy Cubs are among the teams that have been connected to him in previous reports, and surely there are others that have at least gauged the asking price as well.

    Braves Have Reportedly Made Offer To Ji-Man Choi Mon, 01 Jan 2018 15:31:02 +0000
  • First baseman Ji-Man Choi’s agency in Korea recently spoke to the media about their client’s current foray into free agency and revealed that he’s received offers (presumably of the minor league variety) from the Yankees, Angels, Rays, A’s, Brewers, Marlins, Cubs, Reds, Orioles, Twins, Braves, Blue Jays and White Sox (English link via Jee-ho Yoo of South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency). The 26-year-old Choi slugged a pair of homers in 18 plate appearances with the Yankees last year and posted a strong year with their Triple-A affiliate, slashing .288/.373/.538 in 87 games. In parts of five Triple-A campaigns, Choi has posted a robust .298/.390/.479 batting line.
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    Braves Have Some Interest In Christian Yelich Sat, 30 Dec 2017 02:53:55 +0000
  • Numerous teams are obviously preparing to pursue Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, who the Fish are reportedly increasingly willing to deal. Just how likely is a deal? Heyman cites a few sources who describe the situation as one in which the club is making Yelich and teammate J.T. Realmuto available in talks. Among the organizations with some level of interest in Yelich, per Heyman, are the DiamondbacksBraves, and Giants. No doubt there are plenty of others, too, that will line up for both players.
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    Braves Notes: Garcia, Pitching Thu, 28 Dec 2017 21:01:23 +0000
  • Though Venezuelan reporter Marcos Grunfeld tweeted yesterday that Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia has signed a contract with the LG Twins to play in Korea, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says “there have been discussions but [there is] no deal yet.”  Garcia, 33 in April, was below replacement level in 52 games for the Braves this year.
  • Mark Bowman of opens his Braves inbox, writing that “there is reason to believe Atlanta will use an abundance of funds to acquire another proven top-of-the-rotation starter via trade or free agency before the start of the 2019 season.”  Looking at which starting pitchers will be available in free agency outside of possibly Clayton Kershaw, I agree with Bowman that a trade is the more likely route.
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    Braves To Sign Rob Brantly Sat, 23 Dec 2017 04:09:21 +0000
  • Backstop Rob Brantly is in agreement on a minors deal with the Braves, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). The 28-year-old won’t have a shot at a MLB roster spot out of camp, barring an injury to Tyler Flowers or Kurt Suzuki, but he could be the first line of depth behind that duo. Brantly has received only brief MLB action over the past several seasons. He spent most of the 2017 campaign at Triple-A with the Reds and White Sox organizations, where he posted a solid .293/.352/.443 slash in 321 plate appearances.
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    Braves, Danny Santana Agree To Minor League Deal Fri, 22 Dec 2017 02:49:43 +0000 The Braves and infielder/outfielder Danny Santana have agreed to a minor league contract, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (on Twitter). Atlanta non-tendered Santana last month rather than pay him a projected arbitration salary of $1.1MM (per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz). Santana is represented by the Beverly Hills Sports Council.

    Now 27 years of age, Santana was a Rookie of the Year candidate with the 2014 Twins when he debuted with a sensational .319/.353/.472 slash in 430 trips to the plate. That outstanding production, though, was buoyed by a sky-high .405 BABIP, and Santana’s output cratered in subsequent seasons when he (unsurprisingly) was not able to maintain that rate. Over the past three years, Santana has logged an unsightly .221/.255/.320 batting line in 720 plate appearances between Minnesota and Atlanta.

    Though he hasn’t delivered much at the plate, Santana does bring plenty of speed and defensive versatility to the table. Santana’s 28.8 ft/sec average sprint speed (via Statcast) tied him with Jarrod Dyson and four others for 30th in the Majors, and he’s played everywhere on the diamond other than first base, catcher and pitcher in the Majors. While he doesn’t excel at any one position, that versatility pairs with his speed and switch-hitting abilities to make him at least an interesting depth option for the Braves to keep on hand in Triple-A Gwinnett.

    Braves Acquire Preston Tucker, Designate Luke Jackson Wed, 20 Dec 2017 17:21:48 +0000 The Braves have acquired outfielder Preston Tucker from the Astros, per an announcement from the Atlanta organization. Cash or a player to be named will go back in return. To open 40-man space, the Braves designated righty Luke Jackson.

    Tucker is an interesting addition for a Braves organization that recently shed regular corner outfielder Matt Kemp. The young, left-handed-hitting Tucker is a possible platoon piece. He might pair with Lane Adams, for instance, if the organization decides it’d prefer to keep top prospect Ronald Acuna at Triple-A to open the season.

    It’s certainly possible that Tucker could still turn into a valuable big league asset. The 27-year-old slashed .250/.333/.465 with 24 long balls in 569 Triple-A plate appearances in 2017. He has also shown an ability to hit the ball out of the yard in the majors, having popped 13 long balls in 323 plate appearances in 2015, though he also managed only a .297 OBP in that run, struggled badly in the ensuing season and has not seen the bigs since.

    As for Jackson, the writing was likely on the wall as the Braves began committing 40-man spots to other relievers over the winter. The 26-year-old has a big fastball and managed a decent 10.2% swinging-strike rate in 2017, but managed only 5.9 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 along with 4.62 ERA over 50 2/3 innings in his first extended MLB action.

    Braves Release Adrian Gonzalez Mon, 18 Dec 2017 20:39:31 +0000 The Braves have formally released Adrian Gonzalez, tweets Mark Bowman of Gonzalez was acquired over the weekend in a stunning five-player salary dump and immediately designated for assignment. As David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, being designated and immediately released into the free-agent pool was actually a prerequisite for Gonzalez to waive his no-trade protection in the first place, as doing so gives him more say over where he’ll spend the 2018 campaign.

    Gonzalez, 36 in May, was limited to just 71 games this season because of a significant back issue that has also clearly sapped his productivity at the plate. In the 252 plate appearances for which the five-time All-Star and former MVP candidate was healthy, he batted just .242/.287/.355 with three homers and 17 doubles. That, of course, is a far cry from the production Dodgers fans had come to expect after he hit .282/.344/.465 with 95 homers in 2577 plate appearances from 2013-16. Gonzalez ended his Dodgers tenure with a bang, though, belting a home run in his final plate appearance of the season (and, presumably, of his Dodgers career).

    The release of Gonzalez underscores that Saturday’s blockbuster was a financial move for the Dodgers and Braves more so than a move that was motivated by interest in the players that changed hands. Gonzalez is still owed a total of $21.5MM for the 2018 season in the final year of a seven-year, $154MM contract and will be available to any team that has interest in him for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum (for any time spent in the Majors). That sum will be subtracted from the $21.5MM for which Atlanta is on the hook, but the remainder of the deal, nearly $20MM, will come out of Atlanta’s pockets regardless.

    Of course, the Braves are fine with that outcome. The trade allowed Atlanta to dump Matt Kemp’s contract onto the Dodgers, freeing Atlanta of a multi-year albatross and paving a path for ballyhooed prospect Ronald Acuna to join the big league club once he’s deemed ready. Meanwhile, the Dodgers were able to dump a significant amount of 2018 payroll in exchange for spreading out that salary over the life of two seasons — and in doing so dramatically reducing their luxury tax payroll (which is calculated by average annual value).

    Reactions To And Effects Of Dodgers-Braves Trade Sun, 17 Dec 2017 03:22:38 +0000 The Dodgers and Braves swung an out-of-nowhere, payroll-geared trade Saturday consisting of five major leaguers, with just one (Matt Kemp) going to Los Angeles in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Charlie Culberson. LA, which made the trade for luxury tax purposes, previously tried to send Gonzalez, Kazmir and McCarthy to the Marlins as part of a package for now-Yankee Giancarlo Stanton, according to Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times. Although that failed, Dodgers brass already had a fallback option in the Braves, whose general manager – Alex Anthopoulos – worked in LA’s front office until mid-November. The two sides began discussing the parameters of Saturday’s trade shortly after his hiring, per McCullough. Talks gained steam during this week’s Winter Meetings before culminating in an agreement Saturday.

    • The Braves immediately designated Gonzalez for assignment after his acquisition, but the 35-year-old had to waive his no-trade clause before the deal could occur. Gonzalez touched on that choice afterward, saying in a statement: “My final decision was not based on playing time, as I had agreed to a limited bench role. It is a way to test the free-agent market and see what opportunities are out there for me so I can make the best decision moving forward for me and my family. Lifting the no-trade clause is the hardest decision I have ever made in my career due to the fact that I loved every single second being a Dodger.”
    • The Padres will consider a reunion with Gonzalez if they’re unable to reel in free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer, Bob Nightengale of USA Today suggests (Twitter link). Gonzalez was a franchise player in San Diego from 2006-10, slashing .288/.374/.514 with 161 home runs in 3,425 plate appearances and earning three All-Star nods.
    • Shortly after the news broke, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the Dodgers would likely trade or release Kemp before he ever plays another game in their uniform (he was previously with LA from 2006-14). The Dodgers will first try to flip Kemp, confirms McCullough, who adds that they “appear willing to offer prospects” to help convince someone to take some of his contract. Kemp, 33, is due $21.5MM in each of the next two seasons. Keith Law of ESPN opines that he wouldn’t even be worth picking up if the Dodgers ate all of that money (subscription required and recommended). Regarding a discussion he had with Kemp, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said: “I was very open and honest with him about what the future might hold. It’s just too difficult to say, definitively, at this point.”
    • Having completed this trade, it seems the Braves’ heavy lifting for the offseason is mostly over, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution details. They improved their defense by getting rid of Kemp, thus freeing up a spot in the outfield for elite prospect Ronald Acuna (he’ll be in the majors early in 2018, whether it’s Opening Day or a bit later); added a veteran starter in McCarthy (possibly two if Kazmir recovers from a hip injury); and landed a backup infielder they like in Culberson. While Anthopoulos said the Braves could still seek a third baseman and relief help, he noted that those areas are not priorities, O’Brien writes.
    • Meanwhile, Nightengale, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs and Bill Shaikin of the LA Times agree that this trade will help set up an action-packed offseason in a year. Now that the Dodgers are unlikely to exceed the $197MM luxury tax threshold in 2018, they can be more aggressive in trying to reel in certain members of a star-studded class of free agents next winter. One of their own standouts, left-hander Clayton Kershaw, could be a prominent part of that group.
    Dodgers Acquire Matt Kemp For Adrian Gonzalez, Kazmir, McCarthy, Culberson Sat, 16 Dec 2017 20:12:01 +0000 In a stunning swap of big contracts, the Dodgers have traded first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, left-hander Scott Kazmir, right-hander Brandon McCarthy and infielder Charlie Culberson to the Braves in exchange for outfielder Matt Kemp. The Braves will also receive $4.5MM in cash. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first to report news of the trade. Furthermore, Mark Bowman of adds that the Braves have already designated Gonzalez for assignment. A source close to Rosenthal tells him that the Dodgers are likely to trade or release Kemp (Twitter link).

    There’s a ton to unpack here, but the biggest motivator of the trade appears to be money, and more specifically luxury tax implications for the Dodgers. Rosenthal notes in another tweet that the trade is “effectively cash-neutral overall,” but adds that the swap will put the Dodgers below the $197MM luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season. That will allow the Dodgers to reset the escalating luxury tax penalties, which seems to have been a significant objective for the club this offseason. The money owed to Kemp is spread out across the 2018-2019 seasons, while Gonzalez, Kazmir and McCarthy all have just one year remaining on their contracts.

    Rosenthal offers further clarification yet, as he points out that the Dodgers have paid the luxury tax for five consecutive seasons. Their penalty for 2017 was over $30MM, but if they keep their payroll below $197MM, their penalty will drop from 50% on the overage to 20% the next time they exceed the luxury tax threshold.

    Adrian Gonzalez

    Joel Sherman reports in his own tweet that the Braves are planning to release Gonzalez, but can’t do so until Monday since MLB teams can’t release players on weekends during the offseason. Gonzalez actually had to waive his no-trade clause in order to make this trade possible, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports that he did so mainly because the Dodgers told him he’d be buried on the bench and receive limited at-bats.

    [RELATED: Updated Dodgers Depth Chart; Updated Braves Depth Chart]

    As for the Braves, the $4.5MM they’ll get in the deal will even out the overall dollars swapped in the trade (hat tip to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports). GM Alex Anthopoulos says that McCarthy satisfies the team’s “desire to add a veteran starter,” while Culberson fills their need for a bench player (via Mark Bowman of Kazmir has some upside as a rotation piece too.

    Not insignificant is the fact that the Dodgers have opened up multiple spots on their 40-man roster, including one that was already earmarked for Tom Koehler, with whom the Dodgers have recently agreed to a one-year deal.

    Matt Kemp (vertical)

    Kemp, 33, was a sixth-round selection of the Dodgers back in 2003. He made his major league debut in 2007, and went on to have some great seasons for Los Angeles, including a 2011 campaign in which he finished as the runner-up in the MVP voting. Later that year, the club signed the outfielder to an eight-year, $160MM extension. Not long after that, his performance began to decline; Kemp has only topped 1 WAR once in the past four seasons as his contract has been tossed between the Padres, Braves and Dodgers. For the 2017 season, Kemp hit .276/.318/.463, making him a roughly average major league hitter (100 wRC+). However, his poor defense in the outfield dropped his overall value to -0.5 fWAR.

    Gonzalez, now 35 years of age, went to the Marlins with the number one overall pick in the 2000 draft. His breakout season came with the Padres in 2006; that year began a streak of ten consecutive seasons wherein the left-handed-hitting first baseman posted at least 2.9 fWAR. Across those years, he posted a .292/.366/.501 slash line and mashed 283 homers. This past season, however, Gonzalez battled injuries throughout the year and didn’t hit well when healthy; he amassed only 252 plate appearances across 71 games with the Dodgers and managed a career-worst .355 slugging percentage. All told, Gonzalez was valued at 1.1 wins below replacement level.

    Kazmir’s story is a roller coaster of sorts; he was a great pitcher during his early years with the then-Devil Rays, including a 2007 season in which he posted a 3.48 ERA with 239 strikeouts across 206 2/3 innings. However, Kazmir began to struggle with injuries and ineffectiveness in 2009, and though he experienced a resurgence in July that prompted a trade to the Angels, his ERA during the 2009 postseason was an ugly 7.59. Those struggles continued into the 2010 season, and by 2011 Kazmir was pitching for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate and was cut before June was over. After spending 2012 out of MLB entirely, the Indians took a chance on him in 2013, and he rewarded them with a 4.04 ERA (and 3.51 FIP) campaign that earned him the Comeback Player of the Year Award. He signed a two-year deal with the Athletics the following offseason, and seemed to be “back.” The Dodgers signed Kazmir to a three-year, $48MM deal, but the injury bug struck once again, marring his 2016 performance and keeping him off the field entirely in 2017.

    The 34-year-old McCarthy has a career 4.15 ERA across 1,145 big league innings with the White Sox, Rangers, Athletics, Diamondbacks, Yankees and Dodgers. He’s generally provided value while on the field, but has only topped 140 innings twice in his twelve-year career. Part of that can be attributed to injuries, including a 2015 Tommy John surgery when he famously noted on Twitter that “31 years is a lot to ask for from a ligament.” During the past two seasons, he’s put up a 4.27 ERA while striking out 116 batters in 132 2/3 innings.

    Based on his age and team control, the soon-to-be 29-year-old Culberson is the one player in this deal who looks capable of being a long-term piece. The Georgia native won’t even be eligible for arbitration until next winter, meaning the Braves could control him for the next four seasons. The righty-hitting Culberson hasn’t found much big league success since debuting in 2012, though, having hit just .229/.269/.321 in 443 PAs with three NL West clubs – the Giants, Rockies and Dodgers. Culberson racked up a mere 83 trips to the plate in two seasons with the Dodgers, but he did swat a couple dramatic homers during his LA tenure.

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Braves Don't Have Interest In Brandon Phillips Fri, 15 Dec 2017 02:48:41 +0000 The Braves don’t seem to have interest in bringing Brandon Phillips back to his hometown team, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Twitter link).  Phillips spent the first five months of the 2017 season with the Braves, hitting .291/.329/.423 over 499 PA before his production fell off after an August 31 deal to the Angels.  Atlanta is known to be looking for veteran stop-gap options at third base until prospect Austin Riley is ready, and Phillips already moved to the hot corner last season to accommodate Ozzie Albies’ promotion to the big leagues.  There hasn’t been any hot stove buzz about Phillips this winter, as the 36-year-old looks to catch on for his 17th MLB season.

    NL East Notes: Braves, Mets, Robles, Albers Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:19:08 +0000 Though a few of the Braves’ relief targets have signed elsewhere, GM Alex Anthopoulos has an interesting contingency plan. An article by David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reveals that Atlanta is apparently willing to utilize some of their young upside starters as relievers early on in their careers, if the team can’t add the type of bullpen arms they’re looking for through free agency. “We’ve explored it. A long time ago, starters would break in as relievers,” Anthopoulos says. “It’s something that’s come up internally in our conversations. It’s not something we’re planning on doing right now, but at least it’s been discussed, in light of the market for relievers and the price points right now.” Anthopoulos also notes that the relief market has been “continually strong the last two or three years.” The piece also details the GM’s thoughts on calling up Ronald Acuna. It’s great insight for Braves fans.

    Some other items from across the NL East…

    • Mark Bowman of writes that the Braves could seek short-term rotation help this offseason in order to “satisfy their desire to add experience to their inexperienced rotation.” While there might be a desire in the future to “strike a big deal for a legit ace,” Anthopoulos hints that he’d like to take some of the workload off their younger arms. Bowman mentions Wade Miley as one example of a pitcher who could be had on a one-year contract.
    • While the Mets have been linked to Jay Bruce, Anthony DiComo of reports (via Twitter) that the club doesn’t appear to be “warm” on any player in the outfield or first base market. Rather, they seem to be focused on second base as their top priority. One notable Mets target at that position already came off the market when the Angels acquired Ian Kinsler from the Tigers. The second base market does have other options, and the Mets have been linked to of Jason Kipnis of the Indians recently.
    • Though it’s not clear what position Nationals outfielder Victor Robles will play in 2018, GM Mike Rizzo says he’ll be an everyday player (via Pete Kerzel of Rizzo further specifies that if there isn’t a spot for him in the Majors, the Nats’ top prospect will begin the season at Triple-A. It would seem as though the latter is the most likely scenario, considering Washington has Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton and Michael A. Taylor ticketed for the outfield grass. On the other hand, perhaps Taylor could end up in a part-time role.
    • Before the Nationals agreed to terms with Brandon Kintzler on a two-year contract, the team was exploring the possibility of bringing back Matt Albers on a two-year deal, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Ultimately, nothing ended up coming together. Albers was fantastic for Washington last season; the righty posted a sterling 1.62 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. He struck out 9.30 batters per nine innings against just 2.51 walks.
    Trade Chatter: Nats, Rays, Fulmer, Reds, Jays, Braves, Giants, Yelich, Phils Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:44:39 +0000 Looking to improve an already enviable rotation, the Nationals have Rays right-handers Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi on their radar, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports (via Twitter). Either would cost far less in terms of salary than free agent Jake Arrieta will, and Heyman notes that the Nats are unsure if they’d be able to afford Arrieta. Heyman also points to Diamondbacks righty Zack Greinke as a possibility for the Nats; however, he’s not exactly cheap, with $138.5MM coming his way through 2021.

    More on the trade front:

    • The Tigers “will only entertain lopsided offers” for righty Michael Fulmer, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). A trade involving the highly coveted 24-year-old doesn’t look likely, then.
    • The Blue Jays are interested in Reds outfielders Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall, per reports from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter) and Jays Journal. The Braves also have interest in the 29-year-old Duvall, tweets Heyman. Duvall, a 30-home run hitter in each of the previous two seasons, is controllable for the next four years. He won’t be arbitration eligible until next winter.
    • The Giants’ own interest in Hamilton continues, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the chatter with the Reds has “faded significantly” of late. Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer adds on Twitter that the Giants are the most serious suitors for Hamilton, but they’re “at a bit of a standoff” with the Reds. San Francisco still has interest in free agent Jay Bruce, per Rosenthal, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that Bruce is the top name on San Francisco’s “wish list.” Still, the club has not made him an offer to this point.
    • It’s up in the air whether the Marlins will trade center fielder Christian Yelich. Either way, the Phillies will continue to monitor his availability, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia relays. Meanwhile, they’ve “been aggressive” in shopping shortstop Freddy Galvis, according to Salisbury, who adds (via Twitter) that the Angels “really liked” second baseman Cesar Hernandez before they acquired Ian Kinsler. The Halos didn’t want to meet the Phillies’ asking price for Hernandez, however.
    • The Red Sox asked about Marcell Ozuna before the Cardinals acquired him, but they did not have the sort of pitching assets the Marlins were for, Dombrowski told reporters including the Globe’s Peter Abraham (Twitter link.) The Indians also inquired about Ozuna, Paul Hoynes of writes.
    • In addition to Chase Headley, the Padres are dangling infielder Yangervis Solarte in chatter with rival organizations, Heyman reports on Twitter. Solarte, 30, is controllable for the next three years at affordable costs (a guaranteed $4MM in 2018 and then club options totaling $13.5MM for 2019-20).
    • The Blue Jays were another team with interest in Kinsler before Wednesday’s trade, Nicholson-Smith tweets. Toronto was on Kinsler’s 10-team no-trade list, so it’s unclear how open he’d have been to going there.
    Cardinals “Favorites” For Marcell Ozuna; Multiple Teams Pursuing Christian Yelich Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:12:40 +0000 There’s plenty of interest in the Marlins outfield even now that it no longer features Giancarlo Stanton. We have heard lots of chatter surrounding Marcell Ozuna already, and there’s yet more intriguing news now emerging on him and teammate Christian Yelich.

    The Cardinals are emerging as the favorites from a six to eight team field to land Ozuna, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). Word emerged earlier today that the Cards have interest in sending multiple, controllable outfielders in order to acquire one premium asset, though it’s not yet clear that’s what’s under contemplation. The teams are surely already quite familiar with one another’s feelings on prospects after negotiating over Stanton. And Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who has long noted the Cards’ interest in Ozuna and Yelich, reported earlier today that the sides might also line up on reliever Brad Ziegler.

    Meanwhile, the Cardinals are also among ten or so teams that have inquired on Yelich, per’s Joe Frisaro (via Twitter), reflecting longstanding interest that has been covered in recent weeks. The Braves and Diamondbacks are also in that grouping, he notes. Both of those teams make for interesting potential trade partners; in both cases, the interest is likely driven more by their views on Yelich than need, per se.

    Clearly, there’s an interesting interplay here between the markets of these two productive teammates. As Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes on Twitter, Yelich is considered the more desirable asset given his lengthy, team-friendly contract. His report suggests the Fish would prefer to make a deal for Ozuna first, as the organization has given indications it would like to try to find a way to retain Yelich. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out given the multi-faceted considerations at play.

    While he only has two years of control remaining and will play at a projected $10.9MM in 2018, Ozuna is fresh off of a monster 2017 season in which he blasted 37 home runs and slashed .312/.376/.548 over 679 plate appearances. That handily outpaced Yelich, whose own .282/.369/.439 batting line represented a step back from an outstanding 2016 season. Still, many around the game are enamored of Yelich’s bat as well as his overall game, so he’s plainly the more valuable trade piece in light of the fact that he can be controlled through 2022. (His contract promises just $44.5MM, including a buyout on a $15MM club option for that ’22 campaign.)


    Position Player Rumblings: Padres, Moose, Walker, Napoli, Cards, D-Backs Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:49:37 +0000 The Padres could play a major role in the market over the next few days, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes on Twitter. Indeed, the organization has already made one interesting move today. San Diego is looking around for a controllable shortstop and could conceivably match up with the Cubs, Passan suggests. (From an outside perspective, it seems ace reliever Brad Hand would be the most likely Padres piece to pique Chicago’s interest, but that’s just speculation.) Also, the team’s interest in free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer is seemingly increasingly serious. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets that the Friars are “strongly in [the] mix” for Hosmer, while Passan says the sides have gained “traction” in discussions.

    Here’s more from the position-player side of the market:

    • At this point, at least, the Braves are not engaged on the market for third baseman Mike Moustakas, according to Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (via Twitter). Atlanta does have interest in improving at the hot corner, but it seems that new GM Alex Anthopoulos is not all that intrigued by the powerful but OBP-challenged Moustakas. Of course, there’s still time for the market to develop.
    • Free agent second baseman Neil Walker is still looking for a four-year deal, according to Heyman (via Twitter). That seems like a lofty ask, though, for a 32-year-old player on a market full of possibilities at second. Walker has been a steady producer, to be sure, and finished with a strong .267/.409/.433 run with the Brewers, but with so many other options out there it seems more likely he’ll end up settling for a two or three-year guarantee.
    • The Mets have some interest in free agent Mike Napoli, per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Indeed, the club’s new skipper, Mickey Callaway, has reached out to Napoli to discuss the possibility. (The two share a connection from the Indians.) Presumably, Napoli would share time with Dominic Smith at first base, with the organization arranging a natural platoon pairing and then allowing things to play out based upon performance.
    • As the Cardinals continue to seek ways to upgrade after missing on Giancarlo Stanton, they have been scanning the market for alternatives. The team’s preference, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, is to “turn two of their excess outfielders into one newcomer.” That would seemingly represent a fairly clean way to improve the roster, though of course it will likely also require a rather particular trade partner. It is not difficult to imagine such a team also wishing to receive a sweetener in exchange for giving up a premium asset for volume. There are plenty more details and quotes from the Cards front office in the post.
    • The Diamondbacks have been contacted by other organizations about the availability of their middle infielders, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Arizona certainly has quite some volume of MLB-level options up the middle, though it’s also not entirely clear at this point just which players (if any) have firmly secured places in the club’s long-term plans. It’s possible that market demand could help dictate the decisonmaking process, too, as the organization seeks ways to navigate a tricky payroll situation. Though none of the team’s top middle infielders are very costly, that very feature might allow the D-Backs to bring back equally affordable pieces that meet needs or perhaps structure a package deal to shed other salary. Chris Owings ($3.8MM arb projection) has only two years of control left, while Nick Ahmed ($1.1MM) has three and Daniel Descalso will hit the open market after earning $2MM in 2018. Ketel Marte and Brandon Drury are still shy of arbitration.
    Anthopoulos On Braves' Needs, Defense, Payroll Tue, 12 Dec 2017 13:15:36 +0000 New Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke to reporters (including’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.

    • With the Braves looking for third base help,’s Joe Frisaro believes they could at least be open to a trade for the MarlinsMartin 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.
    Chris Archer Drawing Plenty Of Interest Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:17:24 +0000 Rays right-hander Chris Archer is drawing widespread interest early in the Winter Meetings, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The Braves, Brewers, Twins, Cardinals and Cubs are some of the teams eyeing Archer, according to Topkin.

    Given that Archer’s one of the most valuable trade chips in the game, his popularity around the majors isn’t a surprise. He’d surely bring back a significant haul in a deal, thereby helping the Rays improve an already strong farm system, but it’s unclear whether he’ll be among the veterans the payroll-cutting club parts with this offseason. If the long-struggling Rays opt for a rebuild, which they may have to strongly consider in the wake of the division-rival Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, it could indeed bring about the end of the 29-year-old Archer’s tenure in Tampa Bay.

    Archer has been with the Rays since they acquired him from the Cubs – who, as mentioned, seem to want him back – in a 2011 trade centering on righty Matt Garza. He turned into a front-line starter in 2013, his first full major league season, and has pitched to a 3.63 ERA/3.46 FIP combination with 9.72 K/9 against 2.94 BB/9 in 967 career innings. Archer’s a workhorse, too, having made no fewer than 32 starts four years in a row.

    Archer’s now fresh off his third straight 200-inning season, in which he racked up 201 frames with an ERA (4.07) that doesn’t do justice to his performance. After all, the flamethrowing Archer finished behind only Chris Sale, Robbie Ray and the reigning Cy Young winners – Max Scherzer and Corey Kluber – in K/9 (11.15). He also walked a respectable 2.69 batters per nine and placed seventh among starters in swinging-strike rate (13.4 percent).

    Archer’s track record on the mound is clearly enticing, and the fact that his contract is among the league’s most team-friendly pacts significantly adds to his value. He’s controllable for the next four years for $34MM, including club options for 2020 and ’21. If the Rays do make an earnest bid to move him, then, it’s likely to spark a bidding war.

    Quick Hits: Sports Science, Iglesias, Moylan, Rangers Mon, 11 Dec 2017 12:51:12 +0000 Though baseball hasn’t publicly embraced sports science the way it has analytics, the Giants are looking towards that very field as a way to gain an advantage. A fascinating article by Ian MacMahan of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended) provides some insight into the goals of Geoff Head, San Francisco’s newly-promoted assistant director of player development. “Everybody in baseball is tired by August,” Head tells MacMahan. “But if we are a little less fatigued than our opponent, it gives us an advantage.” The field of sports science focuses heavily on factors such as hydration, nutrition, workload and sleep; experts attempt to put together a formula that will keep players performing at their optimal levels as often as possible. According to Dr. Glenn Fleisig, the main difference between sports science and analytics is that sports science focuses on the “physical and medical aspects of a player,” as opposed to gameplay-based statistics. Less than half of all MLB teams currently have a dedicated sports scientist on their staff, and heavier use of sports science data could lead to big improvements by baseball players. As MacMahan puts it, “no one hits a home run sitting in the dugout nursing lead-filled legs and a tight back.”

    • Evan Woodbery of provides some insight into the questions the Tigers face as the winter meetings commence. Most notably, Woodbery reports that there hasn’t been much buzz surrounding shortstop Jose Iglesias, who will become a free agent after the 2018 season. With no open spots on the 40-man roster, Iglesias is one player Detroit could consider moving in order to take advantage of having the first pick in baseball’s Rule 5 Draft this Thursday (As Woodbery points out, Ian Kinsler could also be on the move before then). Though Iglesias hit just .255/.288/.369 across 489 plate appearances last year, his excellent defense boosted his fWAR to 1.6. Because he’s projected to earn just $5.6MM in his final year of arbitration, there would seem to be some surplus value in his contract.
    • Reliever Peter Moylan is generating some interest, specifically from the Royals and Braves (hat tip to Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston). As Drellich notes, Moylan held opposing right-handed hitters to a .161/.244/.236 batting line in 2017 (and may have also provided the Royals with some intangible value thanks to his espresso skills). The 38-year-old Moylan has typically been excellent against righties over the course of his 11-year major league career; he’s posted a 2.22 ERA against them in 280 innings with the Braves, Dodgers and Royals.
    • Even after losing out on Shohei Ohtani, the Rangers may still elect to use a non-traditional rotation, Evan Grant of SportsDay writes. Texas has reportedly kept contact with Yu Darvish, who has pitched in a six-man rotation in Japan and prefers such a setup; that might be one item which could help entice him to return to Arlington. Grant mentions Cole Hamels, who is generally a stickler for routine, as someone who could present a roadblock to such a strategy. However, based on Hamels’ quotes in the piece, he’d be willing to consider it if the modification helped bring about a postseason berth. “I’d love to get to the postseason again and win a World Series. That’s what I want to do here,” said Hamels. “If we can be stronger and healthier, not as worn down, you have the advantage.”
    Braves Hire Jason Parè As Assistant GM Mon, 11 Dec 2017 05:24:52 +0000
  • The Braves announced the hiring of Jason Parè as their assistant general manager, research and development.  (The previously-reported hiring of Josh Tamin as the club’s director of Major League operations was also announced.)  Parè spent the last two years as the Marlins’ senior director of analytics, and he previously worked with Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos in Toronto’s front office, where Parè worked as an analyst in 2014-15.
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    Braves To Hire Alex Tamin As Director Of Major League Operations Sun, 10 Dec 2017 18:40:35 +0000
  • The Braves will hire Alex Tamin as their director of major league operations, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets. Tamin was previously the Dodgers’ director of baseball operations, serving in the same front office as new Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos. While with Los Angeles, Tamin “handled rules and transactions” and was “heavily involved” in advance scouting, according to Rosenthal, who adds that he’ll perform similar tasks in Atlanta.
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    Twins To Sign Yunior Severino Sat, 09 Dec 2017 02:24:21 +0000 The Twins have reached agreement on a deal with former Braves prospect Yunior Severino, as’s Jesse Sanchez was first to report on Twitter. Severino will receive a $2.5MM bonus, so long as his physical checks out.

    Severino was one of the prospects that was stripped from the Atlanta organization for its international signing violations. Unlike the others, he’ll now receive more in bonus money than he did initially. (He’ll get to keep his initial $1.9MM payout, too.)

    It seems the Twins will be dipping into next year’s pool money for the signing. The ad hoc rules put in place for this group of players allow for teams to use either their current pool or next year’s pool, but not both. Minnesota shipped out a big chunk of its remaining 2017-18 availability on Wednesday in a pair of deals (here and here), leaving insufficient funds to accommodate Severino.

    Severino, a switch-hitting middle infielder who recently turned 18, slashed .286/.345/.444 in his 206 plate appearances in the Gulf Coast League in 2017. He’s known more for his bat, as that showing suggests, but seems to have quite some promise. Indeed, he’ll end up scoring a larger second signing bonus than did the more heralded Kevin Maitan, who signed recently with the Angels for $2.2MM.

    Minor MLB Transactions: 12/6/17 Wed, 06 Dec 2017 19:58:00 +0000 We’ll track today’s minor moves in this post …

    • The Braves have agreed to a minor-league pact with infielder Christian Colon, according to Robert Murray of Fan Rag. Assuming it is finalized and made official, Colon will presumably join the competition for a utility role in camp. The 28-year-old has not hit much at all in his two most recent MLB seasons, with the Royals and Marlins, but did slash .303/.361/.382 in his first 168 MLB plate appearances and owns a .290/.352/.391 batting line in his 1,465 trips to the plate at the Triple-A level. Colon has also graded solidly in the infield, where he has appeared at short, second, and third. Atlanta was in need of depth after non-tendering both Jace Peterson and Danny Santana, though the club does still have some notable, youthful middle-infield options on hand in Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, and Johan Camargo.
    Angels Agree To Terms With Kevin Maitan, Livan Soto Wed, 06 Dec 2017 03:13:12 +0000 9:07pm: The Halos have also landed another former Braves shortstop, according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler. Youngster Livan Soto is also heading to the Los Angeles organization after striking a $850K deal. That’s nearly as much as his original $1MM bonus.

    Soto isn’t even halfway into his his 18th year, so he’s particularly youthful. He struggled to a .225/.332/.254 slash in 208 plate appearances in the Gulf Coast League, but did draw 27 walks against 26 plate appearances. Despite the tepid output, BA’s J.J. Cooper wrote recently (subscription link) that scouts were generally pleased with what he has shown initially.

    12:00pm: Jesse Sanchez of reports that Maitan will receive a $2.2MM signing bonus (Twitter link). That’s more than the Halos have in available 2017-18 international funds, so it indeed seems that they’ll be paying Maitan with their 2018-19 bonus pool.

    11:45am: The Angels have agreed to a deal with infield prospect Kevin Maitan, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter). The former Braves prospect was declared a free agent by commissioner Rob Manfred following his office’s investigations into Atlanta’s circumvention of rules on the international free agent market and in the domestic amateur draft.

    The addition of Maitan will be a jolt to an Angels farm system that has long rated as one of the game’s worst but has steadily improved in recent seasons. The 17-year-old Maitan didn’t perform well in his first professional season, hitting just .241/.290/.340 in 176 plate appearances between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Appalachian League.

    The switch-hitting Maitan was still considered by some to be one of the game’s top overall prospects and should slot in at or near the top of his new organization’s prospect rankings. It would be misleading, though, to suggest that Maitan’s struggles didn’t hamper his value to some extent; Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, for instance, tweets that he’s spoken to several scouts who wouldn’t rank Maitan among the game’s 100 best prospects at this juncture.

    The Angels picked up $1.21MM of international spending money in a recent trade with the Braves in which they agreed to take on the entirety of Jim Johnson’s remaining salary from Atlanta. That gave the Halos a total of $1.315MM with which to work on the international front. GM Billy Eppler said at the time that that money was earmarked for Shohei Ohtani, but it’s critical to note that for the former Braves prospects deemed to be free agents, teams are allowed to dip into next year’s bonus pool as well.

    In other words, the Halos could very well have committed a significant portion of their 2018-19 international pool to Maitan while still reserving the $1.315MM sum (and any other funds they can acquire) for their pursuit of Ohtani.

    Phillies To Sign Abrahan Gutierrez Wed, 06 Dec 2017 01:18:22 +0000 The Phillies have agreed to a deal with former Braves prospect Abrahan Gutierrez, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. The young catcher will receive a $550K bonus.

    Gutierrez was among the recent international signees who were stripped from the Braves as punishment for rules violations. He’s the third of the bunch to sign today, with Kevin Maitan joining the Angels and Yefri del Rosario signing on with the Royals.

    With the move, the Phillies have added a player that was considered one of the better catching prospects from the 2016-17 July 2 class. The 18-year-old Venezuelan received a $3.53MM bonus from Atlanta; he’ll keep those funds while also earning his new payout to head to Philadelphia.

    Gutierrez has not yet had much time at all to show his skills at the professional level, but he did appear in 35 Gulf Coast League games in 2017. Over 141 plate appearances, Gutierrez slashed .264/.319/.357. That’s not an impressive output, of course, but for a player of his age and experience the focus at this stage remains on skills and development.

    John Coppolella Makes First Public Comments Since Ban From MLB Tue, 05 Dec 2017 15:47:29 +0000 In his first public comments since being forced to resign as the Braves’ general manager and, eventually, permanently banned from Major League Baseball, John Coppolella issued a lengthy and apologetic statement to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The 38-year-old says that he has been “disgraced and humbled” and that he and his family have been “devastated and embarrassed by the repercussions of my actions.”

    “Throughout my 20-year baseball career my singular focus has been to help make my team more successful,” says Coppolella. “I am heartbroken that in this case my conduct has done the opposite for the Atlanta Braves organization. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

    Coppolella goes on to apologize to the Braves organization, the Commissioner’s office, his former colleagues and peers throughout the industry and to Braves fans everywhere for the damage caused by his actions.

    Those actions, of course, included significant circumvention of collectively bargained rules pertaining to both international amateur free agency and the annual June amateur draft. Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that his office’s investigation revealed that the Braves inflated their contract to a foreign professional in the 2015-16 offseason and then funneled some of that money to five players that were signed as international amateurs as a means of circumventing the international bonus pool system.

    Had Atlanta signed the five amateur prospects for those full amounts, they’d have been barred from signing any player in the next year’s class for more than $300K. Instead, the Braves were able to spend aggressively on the 2016-17 class — netting well regarded names like Kevin Maitan and Abrahan Gutierrez — both of whom (along with 11 others) has since been declared a free agent by the league. Atlanta also inflated the bonuses of six additional players as a means of enticing prospect Robert Puason’s agent to agree to a deal in the 2019-20 signing period and offered Korean prospect Ji-hwan Bae “extra-contractual compensation,” per Manfred’s statement. The commissioner also noted that the Braves offered “impermissible benefits” in the amateur draft as well.

    “I have learned the lesson of a lifetime, as my mistakes have cost me my dream job and my future in the game that I love,” Coppolella says near the end of his statements. “I hope that other people, regardless of their profession, use this as a cautionary tale when making their own business decisions.”

    Braves Seeking Utility Infielder For Bench Mon, 04 Dec 2017 20:28:26 +0000
  • The Braves are in the market for a veteran shortstop that can serve as a backup option at multiple positions, per David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta has Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies penciled in up the middle and is comfortable using Johan Camargo at third base while prospect Austin Riley continues to develop, O’Brien notes. While Camargo himself could fill the role the Braves are seeking, they’d then need to add a third baseman, and O’Brien notes that the team doesn’t want to block Riley by working out a long-term deal with a free agent option.
  • The catcher position remains a glaring need for the Nationals, writes Fangraphs’ Travis Sawchik, who opines that the team should aggressively pursue upgrades despite the fact that they’re already widely favored to win the division. The Nats have just one year of Bryce Harper guaranteed to them, and it’s anyone’s guess how long both Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg will continue pitching at elite levels. Matt Wieters’ dismal offense and poor framing were all the more apparent in the postseason, Sawchik observes, and that latter deficiency is particularly troublesome in the playoffs. Amid offseason reports that the Nats will be open to dealing Yasmani Grandal, Sawchik argues that he’s the perfect upgrade for the Nats due to his elite framing skills. It’d also be worthwhile to try to pry Tyler Flowers away from the Braves, he suggests, though intra-division trades are often more difficult to negotiate, and there’s been no indication that the Braves would make Flowers available.
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    Mariners, Giants, Padres, Rangers, Cubs, Angels Among Teams To Meet With Shohei Ohtani Mon, 04 Dec 2017 05:40:33 +0000 11:40pm: The Angels are indeed one of the finalists, as per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter).

    10:39pm: The Angels are thought by “multiple sources” to be one of the finalists, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan tweets.  The Tigers are out of the running, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.

    8:59pm: The Rangers and Cubs will both meet with Ohtani, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (Twitter link), and they’re also the only two non-West Coast teams who appear to still be alive in the candidate process.  The Rangers, Grant notes, have yet to comment on their status one way or the other.

    7:22pm: The Nationals won’t be receiving a meeting, the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes reports (Twitter link).

    6:58pm: The Braves are out,’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter).

    6:50pm: The Padres will receive a meeting with Ohtani, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter links).  The Dodgers are also thought to still be active in the Ohtani sweepstakes though Heyman doesn’t have confirmation; regardless, the Dodgers aren’t thought to be favorites to land Ohtani.

    6:38pm: The Rays, Cardinals and White Sox are out, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (all Twitter links).

    6:15pm: The Diamondbacks won’t receive a meeting, Ken Rosenthal tweets.

    6:12pm: The Blue Jays, Pirates, and Brewers are all out, as respectively reported by’s Shi Davidi,’s Adam Berry, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt (all Twitter links).

    5:48pm: The Mets are also out, as per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).

    5:38pm: Ohtani’s list is “heavy” on West Coast teams, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, though the Cubs may still be involved.  Not every west-based team is included, however, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal tweets that the A’s aren’t involved.

    5:28pm: The Red Sox are also out of the running, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.  The Twins also won’t be getting a meeting with Ohtani, Heyman tweets.

    5:16pm: The Giants and Mariners are among the teams that will receive meetings with Shohei Ohtani and his representatives next week, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link).  It isn’t known who the other finalists are in the Ohtani sweepstakes, though the Yankees are one of the teams that didn’t make the cut, as Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including’s Brendan Kuty and’s Bryan Hoch).

    According to Cashman, Ohtani seems to be leaning towards West Coast teams in smaller markets.  This ties to a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman saying that Ohtani’s reps are informing teams that the two-way star would prefer to play in a smaller market.

    The news adds another fascinating layer to the Ohtani sweepstakes, which was already one of the more intriguing free agent pursuits in recent memory.  Given the seeming lack of immediate financial motive that inspired Ohtani’s move to Major League Baseball, it opened the door for every team in baseball (regardless of market or payroll size) to make a push for the 23-year-old.  There had been speculation that Ohtani might look to avoid playing in a larger market, so this apparent confirmation creates a realistic possibility that he will land with a team that wouldn’t normally be considered a favorite to land such a coveted free agent.

    Of course, San Francisco isn’t exactly a small market, though Ohtani wouldn’t necessarily be the center of attention on a club with such established stars as Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner (and maybe even Giancarlo Stanton in the near future).  Playing for an NL team, however, would force Ohtani into a pinch-hitting or even a part-time outfield role for the at-bats he seeks in his attempt to be a two-way player in the big leagues.  The Mariners do have such a DH spot available (in a timeshare with Nelson Cruz), and were considered to be a contender for Ohtani given their long history of Japanese players.

    The Yankees also have had several significant Japanese players on their past and current rosters, and were widely seen as one of the major favorites for Ohtani’s services from a financial (in terms of available international bonus money) and positional (openings at DH and in the rotation) standpoint, not to mention their international fame and their young core of talent ready to make a World Series push.  With Ohtani now out of the picture, the Yankees could move to signing more pitching depth — a reunion with C.C. Sabathia has been widely speculated as a possibility — or a veteran bat to serve as designated hitter, if the club doesn’t just rotate its DH days to find plate appearances for everyone on the current roster.

    Braves Monitoring Shortstop Market Mon, 04 Dec 2017 05:17:50 +0000
  • The Braves have, somewhat surprisingly, “checked around about shortstops,”’s Buster Olney reports (ESPN Insider subscription required).  Dansby Swanson is seen as the team’s shortstop of the future, though he struggled in his first full MLB season and was even briefly demoted back to Triple-A last summer.  A short-term addition could used by Atlanta to give Swanson more development time; Olney outlines the lack of teams looking for shortstops this winter, so the Braves could have a wide choice of the market.
  • ]]>
    Gordon Blakeley To Meet With Braves Ownership Sun, 03 Dec 2017 05:38:42 +0000 As a result of the Braves’ transgressions on the foreign market from 2015-17, former international scouting director and special assistant Gordon Blakeley lost his job in October and received a one-year ban from Major League Baseball last month. Now, Blakeley is preparing to meet with members of the team’s ownership group, Liberty Media, on Dec. 14 to discuss those violations, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. Blakeley contends that there were high-ranking Braves officials aware of what he and permanently banned ex-GM John Coppollela were doing, per O’Brien, and it seems he’s set to name names in his meeting with ownership. To this point, MLB has punished Blakeley, Coppolella and the team itself, which the league stripped of 13 prospects the prior regime signed. Former president John Hart has dodged discipline from MLB thus far, but he’s now out of the Atlanta organization.

    Braves Non-Tender Matt Adams, Jace Peterson, Danny Santana Sat, 02 Dec 2017 01:12:04 +0000 The Braves have cleared three spots on their 40-man roster, with new GM Alex Anthopoulos cutting loose some position players even as he has moved to add multiple pitchers. First baseman Matt Adams and infielders Jace Peterson and Danny Santana have been non-tendered, the club announced.

    These were the Braves players identified as possible non-tender candidates recently by MLBTR, and it turned out that all were cut loose. There was talk heading into today’s deadline that Atlanta was working to find a trade involving Adams, at least, though that obviously never came together.

    Adams, a slugging first baseman, impressed enough upon landing with the Braves in the middle of 2017 that the team shifted Freddie Freeman to third base when he returned from injury. But the love affair was short-lived, as the 29-year-old Adams cooled off and settled into part-time usage. Though he finished well in September, that came in rather sparing duty.

    The lefty swinging Adams ended the 2017 season with a quality overall output: 19 home runs and a .271/.315/.543 slash during his 100-game run with the Braves. But he has continued to struggle against left-handed pitching and has not shown much aptitude in the outfield, greatly limiting his function as a roster piece. At a projected $4.6MM rate of pay, the numbers just did not work out.

    The other two players bring plenty in versatility but quite a bit less with the bat. Peterson, 27, was once seen as a possible future second baseman for the Braves. He turned in a solid 2016 season but scuffled to a .215/.318/.317 slash in 215 plate appearances in 2017. Similarly, the 27-year-old Santana — like Adams, an early-season addition — mustered only a .203/.245/.357 output in his 152 trips to the plate on the year. Though Peterson and Santana each projected to earn only $1.1MM in arbitration, the club evidently felt there was not enough upside to tie up roster spots and commit money to these players.

    Players Avoiding Arbitration: 12/1/17 Sat, 02 Dec 2017 01:05:54 +0000 With the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players set for 8pm tonight, there should be several agreements over the next few hours — particularly among players that were considered to be potential non-tender candidates. Many non-tender candidates will be presented with offers that are lower than what they’d project to earn via arbitration in a “take it or leave it” manner; some will agree to the lesser deal (as Brewers catcher Stephen Vogt did earlier this morning) while others will reject and likely hit the open market.

    Here’s today’s slate of players that have avoided the arb process and locked in at least a partial guarantee for the upcoming season (arbitration contracts are not fully guaranteed, but each of these players will be guaranteed one sixth of the agreed-upon sum unless specifically negotiated otherwise). All projections are via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

    • The Padres announced that lefty Robbie Erlin has agreed to a contract for 2018. The 27-year-old missed all of 2017 due to Tommy John surgery and was projected to earn $700K through arbitration. Terms of his deal have not yet been reported.
    • The Braves appear to have agreed to terms with just-claimed righty Chase Whitley, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Whitley, who was projected to earn $1.0MM in his first season of arb eligibility, is said to be in line for an opportunity to work as a starter. It’s a split deal that would pay Whitley $800K in the majors, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets.
    • The Mariners agreed with Andrew Romine on a $1.05MM contract, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Romine, a versatile infielder, was claimed off waivers after the end of the 2017 season.
    • Outfielder Abraham Almonte has reached a deal to avoid arbitration with the Indians, per a club announcement. He had featured as a possible non-tender candidate but instead found common ground with the organization. Almonte, 28, slashed just .233/.314/.366 in his 195 trips to the plate in 2017. He had projected to earn a $1.1MM payday in his first season of arbitration eligibility but will take home $825K, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter).
    • The Royals have agreed to terms with righty Mike Morin to avoid arbitration, the club announced. He’ll receive a split contract,’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets, with a $750K annual earning rate in the majors and $250K in the minors. Morin, who projected at $700K, drew a mention on MLBTR’s non-tender candidates list. Indeed, his contract reflects the middling season that he turned in. Morin allowed 16 earned runs in twenty MLB frames, though he was more effective at Triple-A.
    • Yimi Garcia and the Dodgers have avoided arbitration, per J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter). Garia projected to command only a $700K salary after missing all of 2017 following Tommy John surgery; he’ll end up taking home $630K, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Now 27, Garcia had established himself as a significant member of the Dodgers’ bullpen in 2015, when he compiled a 3.34 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 over 56 2/3 innings. But injuries limited him in the ensuing season and ultimately culminated in a UCL replacement.
    • Per a club announcement, the Indians have agreed to a contract with righty Dan Otero. Otero will take home $1.3MM, per’s Jordan Bastian (via Twitter). He was projected to command $1.4MM. The 32-year-old Otero has been an unmitigated bargain for Cleveland over the past two years, turning in 130 2/3 total innings of 2.14 ERA pitching despite averaging just 6.5 K/9 in that span. Otero has succeeded with unfailing command (just 19 walks since joining the Indians) and a hefty groundball rate (over 60% in each of the past two seasons).
    • The Angels and righty Blake Wood agreed to a one-year, $1.45MM deal that falls well shy of his $2.2MM projection, as FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman was the first to report (via Twitter). Wood struggled mightily in Cincinnati before being picked up by the Halos late in the year and turning his season around a bit. In 17 innings with the Angels, he posted a 4.76 ERA with a much more promising 22-to-4 K/BB ratio. Heyman notes that he can earn up to $50K worth of incentives as well.
    • The White Sox announced that they’ve signed right-hander Danny Farquhar to a one-year deal worth $1.05MM — a pact that falls shy of his $1.5MM projection. In 49 1/3 innings between the Rays and ChiSox, the 30-year-old logged a 4.20 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 5.1 BB/9 and a 41.7 percent ground-ball rate.
    Braves Claim Chase Whitley From Rays Fri, 01 Dec 2017 18:30:33 +0000 The Braves have claimed right-hander Chase Whitley off waivers from the Rays, reports Mark Feinsand of (on Twitter). Whitley was arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason and was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $1MM.

    Whitley, 28, tossed 57 1/3 innings this past season in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery. The righty made all 41 of his appearances with the Rays out of the bullpen after working as a starter throughout his minor league career and early on after his MLB debut with the Yankees. Whitley logged a 4.08 ERA with 6.8 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 and a 32.8 percent ground-ball rate. He doesn’t throw hard, averaging just 90 mph with his heater, but he still missed more bats earlier in his career and in the minors, leaving the potential for a modest uptick in strikeouts with Atlanta. (A move to the NL, clearly, won’t hurt his chances in that regard.)

    The Rays are facing somewhat of a payroll crunch due in no small part to an arbitration class that at one point contained a dozen players. They’ve pared that back some by waiving Whitley and trading former closer Brad Boxberger to the D-backs, but it’s still likely that we’ll see a few more moves out of Tampa Bay before tonight’s 8pm ET deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players.

    Braves Avoid Arbitration With Rex Brothers Fri, 01 Dec 2017 01:19:02 +0000 The Braves have avoided arbitration with lefty Rex Brothers, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It is a non-guaranteed deal, per the report.

    MLBTR had not considered Brothers as an arb-eligible player owing to a club option, but O’Brien says the team was able to tender him a contract after declining that option. The end result will seemingly be somewhat similar, as Brothers will receive a split contract that pays him at a $1.1MM rate for time spent in the majors and a $450K rate for time spent in the minors, per’s Buster Olney (via Twitter). (That’s an unusually healthy payday on the minor-league side, it’s worth noting.)

    Brothers is still optionable for the coming season, as Olney notes, which helps explain his appeal. He’s also still fairly youthful — he’ll turn 30 in a few weeks — and showed an average 95.8 mph fastball in the majors last year, representing a bounce back to his early-career heat after he experienced some shoulder woes. Similarly, Brothers managed a 13.3% whiff rate that hearkened back to his 2011-13 levels, when Brothers was a healthy and effective reliever for the Rockies.

    Of course, it remains to be seen whether Brothers will be able to stay healthy and continue to avoid the free passes that have plagued him in recent seasons. He averaged 4.6 BB/9 to go with a healthy 12.6 K/9 in 23 2/3 innings in 2017. That’s not exactly a desirable walk tally, but is at least in the same range he once worked in better years. Brothers did also cough up 7.23 earned runs per nine on the season, though that’s likely due in large part to some sequencing misfortune and a few too many run-ins with righty hitters. He mowed down southpaw swingers, though, as he has done for much of his career.

    Angels Acquire Jim Johnson, International Bonus Money From Braves Fri, 01 Dec 2017 00:40:30 +0000 6:40pm: Indeed, Angels GM Billy Eppler forthrightly acknowledges that the team sought the spending capacity “with an eye toward” pursuit of Ohtani, as Fletcher tweets. That the market now also features some notable potential consolation prizes in the form of younger international talent surely made it easier for the Halos to justify the gambit.

    2:26pm: Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports that the Angels do indeed plan to use the extra funds in order to enhance their pitch to Ohtani. Further, he tweets that Johnson is technically only owed $4.5MM through the end of his contract, not $5MM, due to a $500K signing bonus that has already been paid out.

    1:53pm: Jonathan Mayo of reports (via Twitter) that the Angels will receive all of the Braves’ remaining pool space: a total of $1.21MM. While the CBA mandates that pool money must be traded in blocks of $250K, it also outlines an exception in the event that the club’s remaining pool space is less than $250K (which would apply to the $210K that remained after the first million).

    As Mayo notes, this now gives the Angels a total of $1.315MM that they can offer Ohtani (or another international free agent, such as former Braves prospect Kevin Maitan).

    1:13pm: The Braves announced today that they’ve traded right-hander Jim Johnson to the Angels in exchange for minor league lefty Justin Kelly. The Angels also pick up a yet-undetermined amount of international bonus money in the deal, per each club’s announcement.

    Jim Johnson | Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

    Johnson, 34, parlayed a strong 2016 season into a two-year, $10MM contract with the Braves but flopped to the tune of a 5.56 ERA in the first season of that deal in 2017. The former Orioles closer and two-time American League saves leader logged 56 2/3 innings with 9.7 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 and 1.27 HR/9 in what proved to be his worst season since the 2014 season. Johnson’s once sky-high ground-ball rate (62.3 percent at his peak) sat at a solid but unremarkable level of 48.5 percent in 2017.

    Despite the rough year, though, Johnson’s season wasn’t devoid of reason for optimism. His 9.7 K/9 rate was the best of his career, as was his 9.4 percent swinging-strike rate. His fastball maintained its 93-94 mph velocity, and metrics like xFIP (3.98) and SIERA (3.87) were considerably more bullish on his output. Johnson also isn’t far removed from a strong season; as previously alluded to, he turned in a 3.06 ERA with 9.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.4 HR/9 and a 55 percent grounder rate in 64 2/3 frames as recently as 2016. For an Angels club that has already lost Yusmeiro Petit and also saw relievers Bud Norris, Andrew Bailey, Huston Street and (in a summer trade) David Hernandez depart, Johnson will give them a rebound option to soak up some of the lost innings.

    Of course, Johnson is a bit pricey for a bullpen rebound candidate, earning $5MM in 2018. However, the Halos will also pick up some coveted international funds that they’ll add to what was a reportedly depleted total of $150K in their international bonus pool. International pool space must be traded in increments of at least $250K, per the collective bargaining agreement, so Anaheim will nearly triple its available resources even if they received only the minimum $250K. Those funds, of course, can be used as part of a pitch to Shohei Ohtani or to some of the Braves’ recently lost prospects, who are all subject to international pools.

    [Related: Updated Angels Depth Chart and Braves Depth Chart]

    Kelly, 25 in April, was a 33rd-round pick out of UC Santa Barbara in 2016 and spent the bulk of his first full professional season in the Class-A Midwest League. In 29 2/3 innings there, Kelly pitched to a strong 2.43 ERA with 7.9 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 44.4 percent ground-ball rate. The Halos gave him brief looks in Class-A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A late in the season, though none of those three cameos produced enviable results.

    Overall, Kelly’s season wrapped up with a composite 3.53 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings (six starts, 19 relief appearances). Considering he’s the return in a move that amounts to a salary dump from the Braves, it’s not especially surprising that Kelly wasn’t ranked among the Angels’ top 30 farmhands. He could head to the bullpen for the Braves’ Class-A Advanced affiliate to open the 2018 campaign.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Braves Reportedly Shopping Matt Adams Thu, 30 Nov 2017 17:05:18 +0000 Nov. 30: FanRag’s Jon Heyman spoke to a source that stated Adams “won’t be with the Braves,” further indicating that the first baseman will either be traded or non-tendered by 8pm ET tomorrow evening.

    Nov. 27: This Friday marks the deadline for MLB teams to tender contract offers to their arbitration-eligible players. Club will have until 8pm ET to agree to tender an offer or to non-tender such players, though the two sides will have roughly two months to work out an actual salary before arb hearings (if necessary) begin in February.

    With that deadline looming, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (via Twitter) that the Braves are “pushing Matt Adams” to other teams, hoping to secure a trade for a left-handed slugger who otherwise could represent a non-tender candidate in Atlanta (as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted in the Braves’ Offseason Outlook). Atlanta has Freddie Freeman entrenched at first base, despite a brief experiment at the hot corner, leaving Adams as something of an odd man out.

    Atlanta acquired Adams, 29, from St. Louis this past May when Freeman went down with a broken wrist that would sideline him for two months. Adams’ initial production following the trade was nothing short of jaw-dropping, as he exploded with a .298/.348/.661 batting line and nine homers through his first 135 plate appearances in Atlanta. From that point forth, however, Adams posted a fairly meek .251/.291/.455 line and seven homers through 179 plate appearances — numbers that are much closer to his career batting line of .271/.315/.469.

    In the end, Adams posted career-highs in both homers (20) and OPS (.841), but the knocks against him were the same as ever. The big lefty batted just .180/.206/.377 in 63 PAs against left-handed pitching and demonstrated again that he is limited to first-base/DH on the defensive spectrum. Both the Cardinals and Braves gave Adams a brief look in the outfield, but he turned in negative marks in both Defensive Runs Saved (-5) and Ultimate Zone Rating (-0.7) in a small sample of 129 innings. His glovework at first base remained solid, but the market for first-base-only bats with significant platoon issues has become increasingly crowded in recent years as teams place greater emphasis on defensive versatility.

    MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $4.6MM salary for Adams — not an exorbitant price to pay for an AL club seeking a cheap option at first base/DH. The Rays, Indians and Angels could all represent speculative landing spots for Adams, while the Rockies stand out as an NL club that could give him semi-regular at-bats at first base.

    For teams that view Adams as a bench bat, however, committing $4MM+ to a defensively limited reserve option at this stage of the offseason is a tough sell. Mitch Moreland has a reputation as one of the game’s best defenders at first base and signed for a one-year, $5.5MM contract in Boston last winter, while Adam Lind, a player with a comparable skill set to Adams, settled for a one-year, $1.5MM pact with the Nationals in mid-February. Many teams would likely consider Adams a viable backup option behind their preferred offseason targets, but that won’t help him at this juncture of a slow-moving offseason, as the top targets for each of those clubs are all still in play.

    Brief Markakis Talks Between Braves, Jays Did Not Advance Wed, 29 Nov 2017 20:41:44 +0000
  • The Blue Jays held talks with the Braves regarding veteran outfielder Nick Markakis, Morosi tweets. But the chatter has “failed to advance” and it’s not clear whether the sides will pick things up. Markakis has continued to put up roughly league average offensive numbers, compensating for a lack of pop with solid on-base numbers, but isn’t much of a value on a $10.5MM salary. Presumably he’d have provided the Jays with a platoon piece for their outfield mix, but it stands to reason that the organization is looking to spend a bit less than that — particularly given that it has other, greater priorities.
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    Braves Make Further Front Office Changes Tue, 28 Nov 2017 00:27:33 +0000 DECEMBER 1: In a surprising turn of events, the Braves have announced that Tinnish has withdrawn from the organization. In statements, both he and Anthopoulos attributed the decision to family considerations. Tinnish will instead remain with the Blue Jays organization.

    NOVEMBER 27: The shakeup in the Atlanta front office is continuing, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Braves have “parted ways” with assistant GM Adam Fisher and hired Andrew Tinnish away from the Blue Jays as their new vice president of amateur/international scouting (Twitter links). With Fisher’s departure, Perry Minasian will become Atlanta’s new assistant GM and vice president of baseball operations.

    Fisher’s departure from the organization comes less than three months after he was hired away from the division-rival Mets by since-departed GM John Coppolella. It seems the primary motivation here was simply to allow Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos a chance to shape his staff. As Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets, Anthopoulos sought to surround himself with familiar faces.

    Rather than being pushed into a less substantial role, Fisher will now be allowed to find a new opportunity elsewhere. Clearly, given the timing of his hiring by the Braves, Fisher couldn’t have played a role in the rampant violations that led to Coppolella’s lifetime ban from baseball or Hart’s seemingly forced resignation from the team. According to Rosenthal, the Braves are still the hook for another two years of Fisher’s contract, though that’ll be somewhat offset if he eventually latches on with a new club.

    Minasian was himself hired at the same time as Fisher, taking a position as director of player personnel. But he was once an Anthopoulos lieutenant in Toronto, the same organization he left when he came to Atlanta. Minasian will end up with a promotion in rank while continuing the contract he agreed to just a few months back.

    In hiring Tinnish, the Braves add will yet another executive with roots in Toronto that date back to Anthopoulos’s time at the helm of that front office. As Ben Nicholson-Smith of notes on Twitter, Tinnish had played a key role in the Jays’ international amateur efforts. Before that, his responsibilities were on the domestic side of the amateur market.