Atlanta Braves – MLB Trade Rumors Tue, 20 Mar 2018 00:28:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Braves Reassign Ronald Acuna To Minor League Camp Mon, 19 Mar 2018 22:58:36 +0000 The Braves have re-assigned much-hyped prospect Ronald Acuna to minor-league camp, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was among those to report on Twitter. He’ll presumably open the season at Triple-A.

It’s rarely notable when a 20-year-old is moved out of major-league camp. Then again, it’s fairly rare even to see a player of that age on the MLB side in the first place.

Acuna is a particularly special case. Relatively unknown before the 2017 season, he finished that campaign as arguably the game’s best overall prospect after blitzing up the minor-league ladder. He opened at High-A and ended at Triple-A, improving his output all the while. Acuna finished with a cumulative .325/.374/.522 slash over 612 trips to the plate, adding 21 long balls and 44 steals to go with it.

Recent developments have only raised Acuna’s profile further. He mashed his way through the Arizona Fall League and has laid waste to the Grapefruit League this spring, posting a .432/.519/.727 batting line with four home runs and four swiped bags in 52 plate appearances.

There’s not much question that Acuna is ready for the majors. But the Braves are evidently not quite ready for him to join the active roster. That’s hardly a surprise, as the organization has consistently indicated Acuna would open in the minors, but it remains quite notable.

It’s impossible to ignore the service-time factors at play here. So long as Acuna is not allowed to accrue 172 days of service in the coming season, he won’t accrue a full season of MLB service. That would allow the Braves to play him in the majors for most of the upcoming campaign while still controlling him for six full seasons after that point. (Of course, the club might also try to hold him down long enough to prevent future Super Two status, though that would be yet a harder sell.)

Of course, even a delay of a few weeks’ time can have an impact on a team’s won-loss record. But that’s not a particularly pressing concern for this organization. While Atlanta had been looking to 2018 as a season to gear up for contention, a series of events — the poor finish to 2017, stunning front office upheaval, and big salary swapping trade that pushed financial obligations forward — seemingly conspired to change the plans.

In that regard, the considerations are a bit different than in the much-discussed case of then-top-prospect Kris Bryant back in 2015. Bryant, who was also a good deal older than Acuna, started in the minors despite a torrid spring and was held down just long enough for the Cubs to ensure that additional season of control. He played in 151 games after arriving and helped lead the team to a postseason berth.

We’ve never yet seen a situation as eyebrow-raising as Bryant’s and probably never will. But Acuna is certainly in the same general category: a super-premium prospect who has shown everything needed to prove he’s ready — at least from an on-field perspective — to play at the game’s highest level. Instead, the Braves will at least open the year with some kind of platoon in left field, likely featuring some combination of Lane Adams, Charlie Culberson, Danny Santana, Preston Tucker, and/or Ezequiel Carrera.

Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos explained his thought process to’s Mark Bowman, stating that Acuna’s own developmental needs were the primary concern. Atlanta’s new top baseball decisionmaker also suggested he would not have been as inclined as the prior front office group to move Acuna up so quickly last year.

It’ll be interesting to see whether or how the Major League Baseball Player’s Association addresses today’s decision by the Braves. The union has already felt squeezed on the free-agent side of the service-time spectrum, making it especially notable to see a top young talent handled in a manner seemingly designed (at least in part) to delay his entry onto the open market.

AL Notes: Rays, Cobb, Archer, Twins, Tigers, A’s Mon, 19 Mar 2018 17:21:50 +0000 Even though right-hander Alex Cobb is still a free agent as the regular season closes in, there won’t be a reunion between him and the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Cobb’s not going to end up signing for a price the Rays deem palatable, Topkin suggests, even though he’s amid a highly disappointing trip to free agency after rejecting the team’s $17.4MM qualifying offer at the outset of the offseason. As they begin life without Cobb, the Rays are set to use a four-man rotation – something their top starter, Chris Archer, discussed with Travis Sawchik of FanGraphs. “The concept makes sense,” said Archer, who noted it’s particularly logical for low-payroll teams to have “four guys on the shuttle making $500,000 each,” as opposed to one player earning $2MM-plus. Although, Archer cautioned that it’s “hard to sustain” a bullpen-heavy plan over the course of a 162-game season. Archer’s also wary about how teams going to more of a bullpen approach could affect player development, as he explained to Sawchik, whose quote-filled piece is worth reading in full.

More from the AL:

  • Twins infielder Erick Aybar will be able to ask for his release if the team doesn’t add him to its roster by Friday, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports (all Twitter links here). It’s unclear whether Aybar would accept a Triple-A assignment (the club hasn’t discussed it with him, per chief baseball officer Derek Falvey), but his chances of eventually landing a spot with the Twins may have improved Sunday with starting shortstop Jorge Polanco’s 80-game suspension. Polanco got the news of his positive PED test a month ago, Dan Hayes of The Athletic was among those to tweet, but the Twins themselves weren’t aware of it until Sunday, Falvey said.
  • In better news for the Twins, righty Ervin Santana is “progressing as expected” in his recovery from February finger surgery, according to Falvey (via Berardino). He should be back toward the tail end of the 10- to 12-week recovery timeline, Berardino notes.
  • Tigers righty Mike Fiersback issues could force him to start the season on the disabled list, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press relays. If so, both Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd would make a Detroit rotation whose only sure bets at the moment are Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann and Francisco Liriano. The Tigers guaranteed Fiers $6MM over the winter with the hope that he’d grab a starting spot, but he hasn’t made a good case for himself this spring, having surrendered 12 earned runs on 10 hits and eight walks, with seven strikeouts, in 11 1/3 innings. Nevertheless, thanks to his veteran status, the Tigers are willing to give the 32-year-old Fiers “leeway,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. As such, if Fiers is healthy, he’ll be in their season-opening rotation.
  • Athletics right-hander Raul Alcantara could lose his 40-man roster spot when their deal with righty Trevor Cahill becomes official, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Alcantara, 25, is out of options and hasn’t produced in Oakland, where he combined for 46 1/3 innings of 7.19 ERA/7.45 FIP ball from 2016-17.
Braves Sign Anibal Sanchez Mon, 19 Mar 2018 16:09:11 +0000 MARCH 19: Sanchez’s deal is worth $1MM, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets.

MARCH 16: The Braves announced that they’ve signed right-hander Anibal Sanchez to a minor league contract and invited him to Major League camp for the remainder of Spring Training. The veteran Sanchez, a client of agent Gene Mato, had previously been in camp with the Twins on a non-guaranteed deal but was cut loose when Minnesota’s signing of Lance Lynn ended his bid for a rotation spot. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported recently that Sanchez was nearing a deal with a new club (Twitter link).

Sanchez, 33, wrapped up a five-year, $80MM contract with the Tigers last season, during which he delivered two sensational seasons followed by three ugly years. From 2015-17 with the Tigers, Sanchez logged a total of 415 2/3 innings and surrendered 262 earned runs (5.67 ERA) on 462 hits (85 homers) and 131 walks. Sanchez still shows a penchant for missing bats (8.2 K/9 over the final three years of the deal, 8.9 K/9 in 2017), but his ground-ball rate has eroded and he’s become stunningly homer prone.

The Twins saw enough to give Sanchez a 40-man roster spot earlier this spring, though his contract came with a non-guaranteed salary of $2.5MM, and Minnesota opted to give him 30 days’ termination (roughly $417K) upon signing Lynn, thus allowing Sanchez to reenter the free agent pool with a notable parting gift.

With the Braves, he’ll serve as depth for a starting staff that looks likely to include Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Brandon McCarthy but has some uncertainty beyond that trio. It’s not known what veteran lefty Scott Kazmir has to offer after missing the 2017 season due to injury, and while the Braves have an enviable stock of arms on the cusp of MLB readiness, none has yet solidified himself as a definitive big league starter, Sean Newcomb, Luiz Gohara, Max Fried and Lucas Sims are all vying for rotation spots, while righties Matt Wisler and Aaron Blair remain on the 40-man roster (though that latter pairing has had its fair share of opportunities and subsequent struggles in the Majors).

Sean Newcomb Earns Rotation Spot Sun, 18 Mar 2018 03:29:41 +0000 Left-hander Sean Newcomb will open the year in the Braves’ rotation, Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. He’ll be part of a quintet that should also include Julio Teheran, Brandon McCarthy and Mike Foltynewicz, though it’s not yet clear who will occupy the fifth spot. The 24-year-old Newcomb debuted in the majors last season and recorded a 4.32 ERA/4.19 FIP across 100 innings, also posting a promising K/9 (9.72) but a troubling BB/9 (5.13). Braves manager Brian Snitker is impressed with the progress Newcomb has made since last year, saying: “Amazing where he’s at to me right now from where he was a year ago. How much improvement that guy’s made. The confidence, his mound presence, the competitiveness, the whole thing from a year ago today. It’s so much better.”

Latest On Greg Holland Thu, 15 Mar 2018 18:08:26 +0000 The market for Greg Holland has seemingly been tepid, at best, in recent months. Two teams that have at least considered him as of late, per FanRag’s Jon Heyman, are the Braves and the D-backs. Atlanta has “checked in” on Holland, while Arizona has considered a run at him as well. One oft-connected team that doesn’t seem likely is the Nationals, as Heyman adds that the they’re “not planning” to pursue him at this juncture of the offseason. (That aligns with comments GM Mike Rizzo made to the media early this afternoon.)

The Diamondbacks already have a plethora of arms vying for bullpen spots, though as the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro recently pointed out, there are potentially as many as three spots up for grabs. Archie Bradley is considered to be among the ninth-inning favorites in D-backs camp, with Brad Boxberger and Yoshihisa Hirano also vying for saves, but Holland would give them a more established arm and deepen the overall bullpen mix in a year Arizona plans to contend. Payroll, of course, could be an issue for the D-backs, though it wasn’t long ago that they were trying to find creative ways to fit J.D. Martinez onto the books.

As for the Braves, their late-inning mix is also murky. Arodys Vizcaino figures to open the year in the ninth inning, with Jose Ramirez, A.J. Minter and Sam Freeman among the setup options helping form the bridge from the rotation to Vizcaino. There’s obviously strong incentive for the Braves to forgo signing Holland. As a rebuilding club that may not yet be ready to contend, the Braves surely don’t relish the idea of surrendering draft picks to sign a player who rejected a qualifying offer.

I’d add that at the same time, the Braves needn’t fret much over the international forfeitures they’d face, as they’ll he handcuffed in that regard anyhow following the November scandal that prompted John Coppolella to resign as GM. Beyond that, high-end bullpen arms are always in demand at the deadline, and it’s not outlandish to think the Braves could receive a better prospect than the one they’d acquire with the third round pick they’d be forced to punt. (Losing the slot value of that pick in their draft pool, however, would limit their ability to get creative, though.)

Finding teams that make sense as an on-paper fit for Holland is hardly a problem. Virtually any club in the league could stand to improve by pushing its seventh-best reliever to the minors and adding Holland to the bullpen mix. However, we’ve already seen a significant portion of the league largely sit out the free agent market, and at this stage of the offseason, more teams are up against payroll limits and reluctant to forfeit a draft/international considerations. There’s still enough time in spring that Holland could potentially make a handful of appearances before Opening Day, but the longer he waits, the more his early-season availability will be called into question.

Braves To Sign Ezequiel Carrera Tue, 13 Mar 2018 18:05:20 +0000 The Braves have agreed to terms with outfielder Ezequiel Carrera, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). It’s a minor-league deal, per’s Mark Bowman (Twitter link).

Carrera was recently released by the Blue Jays, sending him onto the open market in the middle of Spring Training. That move allowed the organization to avoid most of the $1.9MM arbitration salary it had agreed to with Carrera at the outset of the offseason.

As Ben Nicholson-Smith of reminds us on Twitter, current Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos was responsible for bringing Carrera to Toronto back when he ran the Jays’ baseball operations. Clearly, Anthopoulos is a believer, though it’s not clear whether Carrera will have a real shot at earning a roster spot over the final weeks of Spring Training.

Carrera, 30, did have a strong 2017 season in which he posted a .282/.356/.408 batting line with eight home runs and ten steals over 325 plate appearances. Whether now or at some point during the campaign to come, he could be an option as a reserve/platoon outfielder in Atlanta. Currently, the team appears to be slated to utilize fellow left-handed hitter Preston Tucker in a similar role.

NL East Notes: Phillies, Conforto, AGon, Robles Tue, 13 Mar 2018 16:16:24 +0000 As the Phillies introduce Jake Arrieta today, the organization is now much more clearly in a competitive posture than it was at the outset of the winter. But the pedal won’t be fully pressed down, it seems, despite the presence of a few other notable free agents who’d improve the near-term outlook in Philadelphia. GM Matt Klentak says that he does not anticipate any further additions before the start of the season, as’s Todd Zolecki tweets.

More from the NL East:

  • The Mets continue to have cause for optimism on outfielder Michael Conforto, whose scary shoulder injury made for quite an offseason concern. He’s now nearing game readiness, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets, and anticipates getting into a spring game next week. That doesn’t mean that Conforto will be on the Opening Day roster, but certainly suggests he’s on track to return relatively early in the season. In other injury news, via’s Anthony DiComo (Twitter links), the Mets say that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has a sore wrist. Though there’s no indication at present that it’s a worrying injury, he has undergone an x-ray and is waiting for the results. Meanwhile, veteran third baseman David Wright is no closer to a return; rather, he’ll hold off on baseball activities for at least eight weeks after being examined recently.
  • New Mets first baseman Adrian Gonzalez discussed his fresh start and unusual offseason with Mike Puma of the New York Post. Notably, Gonzalez says he was initially resistant to the Dodgers’ request that he waive his no-trade protection to go to the Braves in a contract-swapping move that ultimately left him landing in New York. But Los Angeles “sweetened the deal every single time” he met with the team, says the veteran, who acknowledged there was compensation involved.
  • Pete Kerzel of examines the Nationals’ decision-making process with top prospect Victor Robles, who is impressing in camp despite a middling stat line in Grapefruit League action. The 20-year-old is ready for the majors, by all accounts, though the organization certainly has plenty of good reasons not to carry him out of camp. First and foremost, the organization has a solid center field combo already lined up in Michael Taylor and the out-of-options Brian Goodwin; in that sense, then, promoting Robles would mean parting with depth. Service-time considerations are also a factor; since Robles picked up 25 days of service last year, he’s just 147 days away from a full year of service. If the Nats wish to delay Robles’s eventual entry onto the open market, they’ll need to keep him down until early May; keeping him from potential Super Two status would likely mean waiting to bring him back up until the middle of the summer.
Alex Anthopoulos On Jays Tenure, Braves Future Tue, 13 Mar 2018 02:56:47 +0000 Current Braves and former Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos joined’s Mark Feinsand for a wide-ranging podcast chat. It’s a great listen in full for fans of either of those organizations or anyone interested in learning more about Anthopoulos’s path in the game.

Anthopoulos opened up on some key elements of his time in Toronto now that a few years have passed. He served as GM there from 2010 to 2015 before moving on to a stint with the Dodgers front office and then landing the GM gig in Atlanta last fall.

While the end to his perch atop the Jays’ baseball ops department was obviously bittersweet, particularly as it came right on the heels of a bitter ALCS loss, Anthopoulos also made abundantly clear that he feels no ill will at all toward current club president Mark Shapiro. Rather, he says, the fit just did not seem optimal and he elected not to sign a five-year offer to remain.

Anthopoulos answered a bevy of questions about some of the key deals swung during his tenure, going all the way back to the organization’s admitted good fortune of landing of pre-breakout stars in Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. Of note, he acknowledged — as he was not really willing to do at the time — that Bautista might not have been extended in early 2011 had it not been for the earlier swap that took Vernon Wells’s extension off the books. (Anthopoulos also acknowledged feeling some unease after many big moves, including the Bautista extension and even the acquisition of Josh Donaldson.)

There’s plenty more historical examination in the chat, including the recruitment of Russell Martin. That deal went down when the Jays decided to offer an additional season and $8MM in guaranteed money, boosting the organization’s offer over the four-year, $74MM scenarios that other teams had dangled. Among other memorable moves, Anthopoulos explains the trade deadline double-play that landed Troy Tulowitzki (link) and David Price (link). That mid-season, go-for-it maneuver came about because the team (correctly) believed it had a rare chance at a big run if only it could shore up its run prevention.

Anthopoulos says he received interest from a number of clubs after deciding to leave the Jays, but his decision ultimately boiled down to one between the Astros and Dodgers. In the end, he cites his longstanding relationships with president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman and GM Farhan Zaidi as the primary decisions to choose the opportunity presented by the Dodgers.

Likewise, in moving on to Atlanta, Anthopoulos said he was convinced not only of the state of the organization’s resources but also that it’d be enjoyable to work under team chairman Terry McGuirk. The international signing scandal that opened the GM seat cost the organization some prospects, but Anthopoulos suggests that does not change the overall trajectory of the team, which he says is loaded with young talent.

The Braves certainly have not engaged in a ton of momentous dealmaking since Anthopoulos took over, but he did discuss the massive salary-swapping arrangement he worked out with the Dodgers. It helped, he acknowledged, that he had just been with the Los Angeles organization, as he knew its intentions and had plenty of trust with its leadership. While both sides explored other possibilities before pulling the trigger on the deal, Anthopoulos says it was the “only deal that was going to make sense” for the Braves involving Matt Kemp.

Moving Kemp to clear the way for the eventual call-up of Ronald Acuna was the “number one priority from a player standpoint,’ says Anthopoulos. Reallocating salary commitments to the 2018 season functioned to create ample “financial flexibility” for the organization moving forward. It seems the goal for the coming season is to develop and assess young players before deciding whether and how the organization “might need those dollars” it freed for the future.

At spring camp, Anthopoulos says, he’s focused on getting to know the young players who are vying to become parts of the organization’s future. Some, he acknowledges, may end up being traded. The spring offers a chance to gain new insight on the “human element,” Anthopoulos says, calling that one of the many elements he has gained additional appreciation for over his decades in the game.

Luiz Gohara Could Be Out Until At Least May Sun, 11 Mar 2018 20:25:35 +0000
  • Braves left-hander Luiz Gohara’s sprained ankle is likely to keep him out until May, if not later, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Manager Brian Snitker acknowledged that ““it’s going to be a while” for Gohara because he’ll essentially have to restart spring training from scratch when he’s well enough to return. A healthy Gohara may have opened the year in the Braves’ rotation, but his injury woes could lead to veteran lefty Scott Kazmir claiming a spot, O’Brien notes. A hip injury prevented Kazmir from pitching in the majors in 2017, his final year with the Dodgers.
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    Luiz Gohara Out At Least 2 Weeks With Ankle Sprain Sat, 10 Mar 2018 03:43:33 +0000
  • Braves southpaw Luiz Gohara is going to be shut down for at least two weeks after suffering an ankle sprain, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Though it doesn’t seem as if there’s anything approaching long-term concern for the injury itself, there are implications. For one, there’s now little chance that Gohara will open the season in the rotation, as he has already been limited in camp. That means another pitcher — O’Brien suggests Max Fried or Scott Kazmir, though others are also certainly in the mix — will likely take that slot. When Gohara is back to health, moreover, he’ll presumably need to boost his conditioning along with getting his arm up to full speed. The big-bodied southpaw previously strained his groin in a camp workout and has long faced questions about his weight. Of course, that did not prevent him from an impressive five-start debut showing in 2017.
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    Braves Acquire Ryan Schimpf, Outright Josh Ravin Mon, 05 Mar 2018 19:11:07 +0000 The Braves announced on Monday that they’ve acquired infielder Ryan Schimpf from the Rays in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, Atlanta placed right-hander Josh Ravin on outright waivers. He’s already cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Gwinnett, per the team.

    Schimpf, 29, is perhaps the current poster boy for three-true-outcomes hitters, as 52.7 percent of his 527 career plate appearances have ended in either a home run (34), walk (69) or strikeout (175). Remarkably, his 34 career home runs are more than the 28 singles he’s amassed in the Majors. In all, he’s walked at a 13.1 percent clip in the big leagues and struck out in 33.2 percent of his trips to the plate. He’s a .195/.317/.492 hitter in those 527 PAs.

    Setting aside Schimpf’s extraordinarily unique offensive stat line, he’ll bring to the Braves another option to slot in at the hot corner early in the year as Atlanta awaits the emergence of prospect Austin Riley. Schimpf has a couple of minor league options remaining, so he needn’t be exposed to waivers at the end of camp if the Braves don’t want to bring him north to open the season.

    Presently, Johan Camargo figures to be the primary third baseman for manager Brian Snitker, though Camargo’s ultimate role seems likely to be one of a utility infielder. While the 24-year-old Camargo hit .299/.331/.452 last season, he did so with the aid of a gaudy .364 average on balls in play and just a 4.7 percent walk rate. Given his below-average hard-contact rate and above-average infield fly rate, Camargo looks exceedingly unlikely to support a BABIP near that level and, barring a significant improvement in his walk rate, will likely see his average and OBP come down by a fair margin in 2018.

    In theory, Schimpf and Camargo could actually make an interesting platoon. While Camargo is a switch-hitter, he posted a putrid .254/.287/.349 slash against right-handed pitching last year but a terrific .403/.434/.694 slash against lefties. The same BABIP caveats that apply to Camargo’s overall season are even more true of his work against southpaws (.481 BABIP in 76 PAs), but he’s generally been a better hitter against lefties than righties throughout his minor league career.

    Schimpf, meanwhile, has hit just .205 against righties but paired that with a .329 OBP and a .537 slugging percentage, giving him a stunning .303 isolated power mark against righties in his brief big league career. He’s also capable of playing second base, so he could hold down a bench spot and serve as a late-inning power option in addition to his work as a potential platoon partner for Camargo, if the Braves are so inclined.

    As for the 30-year-old Ravin, he totaled just 16 2/3 innings out of the Dodgers’ bullpen in 2017 before being acquired by the Braves (whose new GM, Alex Anthopoulos, had previously been in the L.A. front office) in a minor offseason swap. Ravin struggled to a 6.48 ERA in that small sample, though he did punch out 19 hitters and average better than 96 mph on his heater in that time. His Triple-A work in 2017 was much better, as he logged a 4.33 ERA and averaged a hefty 14 strikeouts per nine innings, albeit against 4.8 walks per nine. Ravin’s career has been slowed in recent years by a 2016 car accident as well as an 80-game PED suspension that same year.

    Braves Notes: Importance Of 2018, Markakis Mon, 05 Mar 2018 05:09:29 +0000
  • This is “a critical year” for the Braves, in part because it will help them decide how aggressively to seek upgrades via the free agent and trade markets next winter, general manager Alex Anthopoulos told Mark Feinsand of “The ideal scenario is that these guys emerge, they all take these jobs, run with them and become a part of our core,” Anthopoulos said of the Braves’ young talent, and he mentioned shortstop Dansby Swanson, third basemen Johan Camargo and Austin Riley, and catcher Alex Jackson as players who are capable of etching themselves into the team’s long-term plans this season. The most notable member of that group is Swanson, whom Arizona chose No. 1 in the 2015 draft and then traded to Atlanta in the well-known Shelby Miller deal later that year. Swanson’s now coming off his first full major league season, in which he struggled to a .232/.312/.324 batting line in 551 plate appearances. “Dansby Swanson at shortstop; everyone knows about Draft status and talent and all of that, but he didn’t have the year he’s capable of last year,” Anthopoulos said. “He’d be the first one to tell you that. Does he take that step and emerge as our shortstop?”
  • At 34 and in the last year of his contract, outfielder Nick Markakis probably isn’t in the Braves’ long-term plans. But he’s still a Brave for now, and his coaches and teammates are glad, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explains. Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer told O’Brien that Markakis is the “ultimate professional” and compared him to Royals luminaries George Brett and Alex Gordon, two people Seitzer’s familiar with from his days in Kansas City. Meanwhile, Swanson is “super thankful” Markakis is still in the fold. The same could hold true for manager Brian Snitker, whom Markakis raved about to O’Brien. According to O’Brien, now-former Braves president John Hart berated Snitker in the manager’s office after a loss last August. Markakis caught wind of it and “made it known, had the message sent up the chain, that if Hart ever treated the manager that way again that Markakis would, in so many words, kick his ass,” O’Brien writes.
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    Braves' Payroll Is Down Despite Revenue Increase Sun, 04 Mar 2018 21:09:47 +0000
  • Though the Braves enjoyed a 47 percent increase in revenues from 2016 to 2017 thanks to the opening of SunTrust Park, the team projects to have a smaller payroll next season than it did in 2017, Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.  The Braves had long intended to time the opening of their new stadium to coincide with the end of their rebuilding plan, though this offseason been a very quiet one for the team, save for a big payroll-shuffling trade with the Dodgers.  Of course, Atlanta’s plans were entirely upended by the shocking departures of both former GM John Coppolella and former president of baseball operations John Hart, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that the franchise held back on any aggressive moves.  New general manager Alex Anthopoulos even stated in December that he would likely take “a more cautious approach” in his first year running the front office.
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    Luiz Gohara Dealing With Strained Groin Sun, 25 Feb 2018 05:04:18 +0000
  • Braves left-hander Luiz Gohara is dealing with a strained groin and is at least a week behind the team’s other pitchers as a result, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. While that won’t do the 21-year-old Gohara any favors in his effort to earn a starting job, fellow southpaw Sean Newcomb could benefit from it. He and another lefty, veteran Scott Kazmir, are the leading candidates to occupy the Braves’ last two rotation spots if Gohara’s not ready to go early in the season, per Mark Bowman of The Braves could get away with using a four-man rotation until April 11, however, Bowman points out. Newcomb, 24, made his major league debut last season and fared nicely, tossing 100 innings of 4.32 ERA/4.19 FIP ball and recording 9.72 K/9. Granted, Newcomb’s impressive strikeout mark came with a troubling walk rate (5.13 BB/9).
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    Heyman’s Latest: LoMo, Braves, Moustakas, White Sox, CarGo, Lynn, Arrieta Fri, 23 Feb 2018 05:34:16 +0000 There’s enough talent left on the free-agent market — including seven of the top twenty players on MLBTR’s list of the top 50 free agents — that the overall assessment of spending could yet be swayed by contracts that have yet to be reached. (As always, you can review the action to this point in our 2017-18 MLB Free Agent Tracker.) As we wait for the final data points to be registered, it’s worth considering this recent piece from The Ringer’s Ben Lindbergh regarding the debate over player spending in comparison to revenue (as well as this earlier AP examination of spending and revenue from the spring of 2016). Calculating the players’ slice of the pie — and the size of the pie itself — is certainly a nuanced undertaking, and one for which complete public data is lacking.

    The markedly sluggish timing of this year’s market, of course, is something that has already been established quite clearly. With an unprecedented number of top players still awaiting new deals as Spring Training opens, let’s take a look at a few of the most notable bits of information from Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (from his latest notes column, unless otherwise noted):

    • At least as of a few days back, says Heyman, first baseman Logan Morrison was not sitting on any open offers. While LoMo’s representatives surely have an idea of what might be available, it’s rather notable that no organizations seem to be making a concerted effort to draw him. MLBTR’s Connor Byrne recently argued in favor of Morrison as a worthy free-agent target, but it certainly isn’t doing him any favors that the market still holds a few other quality slugger types. Still, Morrison’s excellent recent work at the plate would unquestionably hold out the promise of real improvement for a variety of organizations.
    • There’s still no evidence that the Braves are particularly likely to agree to terms with third baseman Mike Moustakas, but Heyman says there has been some amount of engagement — even if “there’s no common ground” to this point. The Atlanta organization, which Heyman says even considered Lorenzo Cain at one point, may have reduced 2018 flexibility after a salary swapping deal with the Dodgers moved some obligations forward. But it seems the team is still at least hunting around for interesting possibilities. As for Moustakas, Heyman notes he has “plenty of one-year opportunities,” but it’s not clear at this point whether a significant multi-year deal will be forthcoming. That’s surely disappointing after he turned in a strong 2017 season, though it is not atypical for some quality players to run into problematic market circumstances.
    • The White Sox have been linked, albeit loosely, to Moustakas, and it still seems as if the Chicago organization could have some tricks up its sleeves. While the focus, no doubt, remains on the future, the club is going to have some solid veterans and high-end young talents on the roster for the coming season. With just over $70MM on the books for 2018, perhaps the organization could yet pursue some one-year or multi-year deals that would hold out the promise of delivering excess value. Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is a “possibility” for the South Siders, per Heyman. It stands to reason that the Sox might hold added appeal to players such as Gonzalez if they are willing to offer more playing time than might be available elsewhere.
    • With several starters locking in solid rates of pay of late, and the bullpen market heating up earlier in the offseason, pitchers seem generally to have had an easier go of things on this winter’s wacky market. Heyman writes that veteran righty Lance Lynn has not been forced to significantly drop his asking price. Indications are that the Twins, per the report, “seem to prefer” Lynn to other still-available starters. Heyman further reports that Jake Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, still seems to believe that Arrieta compares more reasonably with pitchers who have landed mega-deals than he does with the recently inked Yu Darvish, who received a $126MM guarantee. Of course, we’re still waiting to see how those and a few other top open-market pitchers will end up doing when all is said and done.
    Minor MLB Transactions: 2/21/18 Wed, 21 Feb 2018 20:36:57 +0000 We’ll track the day’s minor moves in this post:

    • The Braves outrighted right-hander Mauricio Cabrera, who has cleared waivers, per David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). Atlanta will surely be glad to hold onto the fireballing reliever, who could be an intriguing piece of the late-inning unit if he’s able to get a hold of his arsenal. Cabrera’s control evaporated in 2017 but he did carry a 2.82 ERA in 38 1/3 MLB innings in the prior season.
    • Lefty Manny Parra is joining the Giants on a minors deal, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). The 35-year-old struggled quite a bit in limited action last year at Triple-A with the Cubs and sat out for all of 2016. Still, he was a useful reliever as recently as 2015, when he threw 32 1/3 innings of 3.90 ERA ball. Once a starter with the Brewers, Parra’s best years came as a pen piece for the Reds — including a strong 2013 campaign in which he worked to a 3.33 ERA with 11.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.
    Braves Agree To Terms With Peter Moylan Tue, 20 Feb 2018 00:03:56 +0000 6:03pm: Moylan is slated to earn a $575K salary with a $625K roster bonus if and when he is placed on the 25-man roster, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). It is not known how much, if any, money is guaranteed, but clearly Moylan will have to earn a bullpen job in camp.

    7:28am: The Braves are in agreement on a contract with veteran right-handed reliever Peter Moylan, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). Moylan, a client of Paragon Sports, is in Orlando to take a physical for the deal today, Crasnick adds. It was reported yesterday that the Braves and Royals were both in the mix to sign the 39-year-old veteran.

    Moylan will head back to the Braves for what will be his third stint with the team. He made his Major League debut for Atlanta as a 27-year-old back in 2006 and went on to serve as a key member of their bullpen up through the 2012 season, appearing in 295 games with a 2.59 ERA out of the bullpen. He’d land back in Atlanta for the 2015 season after undergoing the second Tommy John surgery of his career, pitching 10 1/3 solid innings late in the year.

    The Royals picked Moylan up in 2016, and he’s spent the past two seasons with Kansas City, where he’s pitched quite well out of the ’pen. Moylan paced the Majors with 79 total appearances last season, appearing in nearly half of his team’s games on the year. He logged a 3.46 ERA in 104 innings with the Royals in total over those two seasons, averaging 6.9 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9 and logging a hefty 61.3 percent ground-ball rate.

    Moylan has had his struggles with left-handed opponents in that time, serving up a .318/.444/.535 slash to 108 batters when they hold the platoon advantage. Right-handed hitters, though, probably wonder if it’s even worth stepping into the box against the side-arming Moylan, who has held same-handed opponents to a comical .181/.252/.253 slash through 326 PAs in that same span. Suffice it so say, he can be relied on by the Braves something of a right-handed specialist, though he probably won’t be called upon to face elite lefties on too many occasions.

    The Braves figure to add Moylan to a late-inning mix that currently features Arodys Vizcaino as the closer and hard-throwing Jose Ramirez as the top setup option. Sam Freeman and A.J. Minter are on hand as left-handed options, and other candidates to fill right-handed spots in the relief corps include Josh Ravin, Dan Winkler, Chase Whitley, Mauricio Cabrera, Akeel Morris, Jason Hursh, Aaron Blair, Matt Wisler and Rule 5 pick Anyelo Gomez. It’s a rather deep mix from which to choose, though the group does have an overall lack of experience, so it’s not hard to see why the Braves sought a complementary veteran such as Moylan.

    If it proves to be a guaranteed Major League pact for Moylan, he’ll be the first free agent to sign such a deal with the Braves this offseason under new general manager Alex Anthopoulos. He’d represent a viable upgrade to a bullpen that finished 26th in the Majors with a 4.58 ERA and allowed a .264/.339/.450 slash against righties in 2017 (as pointed out yesterday by MLBTR’s Connor Byrne).

    Braves Designate Mauricio Cabrera Mon, 19 Feb 2018 23:50:41 +0000 The Braves have designated righty Mauricio Cabrera for assignment, per a club announcement (h/t David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on Twitter). His roster spot will go to fellow right-hander Peter Moylan, whose signing is now official.

    Dropping Cabrera would have been inconceivable this time last year. When camp opened in 2017, after all, the young flamethrower was seen as a major part of the late-inning mix in Atlanta.

    In 2016, Cabrera posted a 2.82 ERA in his first 38 1/3 innings at the game’s highest level while averaging an eye-popping 101.2 mph with his four-seamer. Though he only managed 7.5 K/9 against 4.5 BB/9, he sported a solid 11.7% swinging-strike rate and got a strong 49.1% groundball rate.

    Things went south last year, however. Cabrera experienced some arm issues in camp and struggled badly while working back through the minors, never returning to the MLB roster. Walks have always been a concern, but Cabrera was irredeemably wild in 2017. Over 43 total minor-league frames, he walked more than a batter per inning while stumbling to a 6.49 ERA.

    Braves Working To Sign Peter Moylan; Royals Remain Interested Sun, 18 Feb 2018 17:20:08 +0000 11:20am: Moylan to the Braves might not be a foregone conclusion. The Royals remain interested in re-signing him, per Bowman (Twitter link).

    8:37am: The Braves are attempting to complete a deal with free agent reliever Peter Moylan, Mark Bowman of tweets. It’s unclear whether it’ll be a major league pact for the 39-year-old Moylan, who already has two stints with the Braves under his belt (2006-12 and 2015).

    The right-handed Moylan spent the previous two seasons in Kansas City and combined for a 3.46 ERA with 6.92 K/9 and 3.55 BB/9 across 104 innings, including 59 1/3 (his most since 2010) in 2017, when he led all pitchers in appearances (79). The sinker- and slider-throwing Moylan notched a superb 61.3 percent groundball rate to rank eighth among qualified relievers during that two-year span.

    Moylan’s success with the Royals was particularly surprising after he combined to throw fewer than 40 big league innings with the Braves and Dodgers from 2011-15, owing to a laundry list of injuries. The Australia native dealt with back, shoulder and elbow problems at various points during that stretch, and he missed all of 2014 after undergoing the second Tommy John surgery of his career. Moylan then rejoined the Braves prior to the 2015 campaign on an unconventional deal, one in which they picked him up as a player/coach.

    If he’s able to catch on with the Braves for a third time, Moylan will become the elder statesman of a bullpen that hasn’t added any other proven commodities since finishing last season 26th in ERA (4.58) and 27th in fWAR (1.1). Braves relievers especially struggled versus right-handed hitters, who slashed .264/.339/.450 against them. Moylan, meanwhile, limited righties to a meager .161/.244/.236 mark and has held them in check throughout his career (.204/.269/.295). Although lefty-swingers have roughed up Moylan (.296/.422/.430), he has nonetheless managed a 3.00 ERA during his 390 1/3-inning career.

    Braves Trying To Add Outfielder Sun, 18 Feb 2018 16:47:55 +0000 The Braves are attempting to add an outfielder, Jon Morosi of tweets. With soon-to-be ex-Ray Corey Dickerson now available, Morosi wonders if Atlanta could emerge as a suitor for him. The Braves currently have two entrenched starting outfielders in center fielder Ender Inciarte and right fielder Nick Markakis, and all-world prospect Ronald Acuna is charging toward the majors and should take over left in the near future. Speculatively, after Acuna comes up, Dickerson could bump Markakis from a starting role. Not only is Dickerson likely the better of the pair, but he’s much younger (28 to 34) and comes with two years of control to Markakis’ one.

    Anthopoulos Discusses Chris Stewart Signing Thu, 15 Feb 2018 00:00:16 +0000
  • Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos discussed his team’s signing of Chris Stewart with reporters (including David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), admitting that Stewart’s addition is “not a clean fit right now” since the team is set behind the plate with Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki.  The hope is that Stewart will accept an assignment to Triple-A at the end of Spring Training to provide additional depth at catcher behind the MLB duo.  The Braves would’ve preferred to sign Stewart to a minor league deal, though Stewart was insistent on receiving a Major League contract, even if his deal isn’t guaranteed.
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    Braves To Sign Chris Stewart Wed, 14 Feb 2018 18:03:09 +0000 The Braves have reached agreement with catcher Chris Stewart on a one-year deal, according to’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter). It’s a non-guaranteed MLB contract, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution adds on Twitter, which could pay Stewart $575K, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).

    Notably, Bowman adds, this signing will represent the veteran depth move that was referenced earlier today. He adds that he was mistaken in suggesting that the club was close to adding an outfielder, so it seems that the organization is currently set in its outfield mix.

    Also of importance, the reports suggest that Stewart is not expected to replace either of the team’s top two catchers. That is, both Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki are expected to remain with the organization.

    Stewart hit the free agent market after the Pirates declined a $1.5MM option for his services for the coming season. He had slashed only .183/.241/.221 through 144 plate appearances on the year, a career-low output from the 11-year MLB veteran.

    Soon to turn 36, Stewart is not likely to suddenly turn into a quality producer at the plate. After all, he carries a lifetime .590 OPS at the MLB level. Clearly, though, he’s valued for his presence behind the dish and in handling a pitching staff. Just how he’ll fit into the picture in Atlanta remains to be seen.

    Braves Nearing Acquisition Of Position Player Wed, 14 Feb 2018 17:33:40 +0000 12:00pm: In fact, the move was not for an outfielder, with Bowman explaining that he was mistaken in that regard. The Braves have reached a deal with catcher Chris Stewart.

    11:33am: The Braves “seem to be close” to working out a deal to acquire an unnamed outfielder, according to a tweet from’s Mark Bowman. Details on the prospective move remain sparse, but David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that GM Alex Anthopoulos has indicated the club is lining up a “small, depth-type move.”

    At this point, it’s not known whether Atlanta is nearing a trade or free-agent signing. Either, surely, is plausible; there’s no shortage of unsigned outfielders left in free agency. With Matt Kemp dealt away earlier in the offseason, the Braves have an opening in the outfield mix that remains unresolved as camp opens.

    One notable factor here is Bowman’s suggestion that the prospective addition would fill out the club’s outfield mix “until” top prospect Ronald Acuna is promoted. That obviously suggests that the Braves do not intend to allow Acuna to open the season on the MLB roster. Of course, that’s largely unsurprising, since the organization has every incentive to preserve their future control over the young phenom.

    The reports also indicate that the new acquisition will be expected to play a role at the major league level, so perhaps this is more than a non-roster signing. Clearly, though, all indications are that Atlanta is not on the verge of a truly significant move.

    Mike Foltynewicz Not Thrilled With Arbitration Experience Wed, 14 Feb 2018 14:45:35 +0000
  • It’s often said that arbitration hearings can lead to some tension between players and teams, and it seems that’s just what has happened with righty Mike Foltynewicz and the Braves. As David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, Foltynewicz left the hearing with some frustrations about how things were handled by the organization. The team ended up winning a case that was held over a spread of just $100K. That said, the 26-year-old indicates that the experience won’t change his approach, telling O’Brien that he’s ready to “go to work and try to make this team better.”
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    Braves Will Reportedly Attend Lincecum Showcase Wed, 14 Feb 2018 04:55:29 +0000
  • More than 10 teams are set to attend Tim Lincecum’s showcase on Thursday, it seems. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, Rhett Bollinger of and Roch Kubatko of respectively report that the Tigers, Twins and Orioles will have scouts in attendance (all Twitter links). Heyman adds another handful of clubs, listing the Rangers, Phillies, Dodgers, YankeesRed Sox, Brewers, Padres and Braves as attendees (links to Twitter for the last three), in addition to the previously reported Giants. If anything, it’s perhaps more notable which clubs have elected not to attend the showcase, as there’s no real downside to at least taking a look and the showcase is shaping up to be reasonably well-attended. To that end, the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan wrote over the weekend that the Mets aren’t planning to have a scout in attendance.
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    Braves Defeat Mike Foltynewicz In Arbitration Sat, 10 Feb 2018 22:27:45 +0000 Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz has lost his arbitration case against the Braves, tweets Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. He’ll take home $2.2MM in 2018, his first of four potential arbitration years, falling just short of the $2.3MM he requested. The salary comes in $500K shy of the $2.7MM figure projected by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz.

    The defeat for the 26-year-old Foltynewicz comes on the heels of his third season with the Braves, who acquired him in 2015 as part of a deal with the Astros that centered on Evan Gattis. A former promising prospect in Houston, the hard-throwing Foltynewicz has emerged as a competent rotation piece with the Braves over the past couple years. Dating back to 2016, the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder has made 51 appearances (50 starts) and pitched to a 4.58 ERA/4.29 FIP over 277 1/3 innings. He tossed a career-high 154 frames in 2017 and recorded a 4.79 ERA/4.33 FIP, 8.36 K/9 and 3.45 BB/9.

    Now that Folty’s case is settled, the Braves’ work on the arbitration front is done for the offseason, as MLBTR’s Arb Tracker shows.

    Latest On Eduardo Nunez Fri, 09 Feb 2018 00:44:15 +0000 Feb. 8: Jesse Sanchez of tweets that the Braves can be counted among the teams that have “serious” interest in Nunez. Atlanta has something of an opening at third base, where Johan Camargo is presently projected to serve as a bridge to prospect Austin Riley.

    However, there have also been multiple reports that the Braves aren’t likely to make a big splash at the hot corner; David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution recently characterized any such addition as unlikely, and FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported earlier today that the Braves would primarily be open to a one-year deal with any third base target. Given the fairly robust level of interest in the versatile Nunez, it seems unlikely that he’d command only a one-year pact.

    Feb. 6: Veteran infielder Eduardo Nunez has long seemed likely to command fairly broad interest, though his market got underway only recently since he spent the early part of the offseason recovering from a knee injury (though he was able to avoid surgery). It still seems that there’s some room for development in his market, as interest continues to percolate.

    According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, via Twitter, the Rays have joined the division-rival Red Sox and Yankees with interest. Tampa Bay, according to Rosenthal, is generally gauging the market for right-handed bats while simultaneously fielding interest in some of its presently more expensive assets, including Jake Odorizzi and Alex Colome. In theory, either or both could be traded for younger, more controllable assets while clearing some salary for a free-agent addition such as Nunez.

    Nunez has been tied most closely in recent weeks to Boston (see here and here), and Rosenthal wrote again tonight that the Red Sox have shown interest in re-signing him. But he has also been connected to both New York organizations and a host of other possible destinations given his experience at third base, shortstop, second base and in left field. While Nunez doesn’t thrive at any one position and grades out below average at several, the ability to place him at multiple spots on a short-term basis holds plenty of appeal all the same. He’s also taken his offensive game to a new level in recent seasons, slashing .296/.332/.443 in 1290 plate appearances for the Twins, Giants and Red Sox dating back to the 2015 campaign.

    Of course, the Mets are no longer a reasonable possibility; per John Harper of the New York Daily News, the club believed it could’ve signed Nunez for approximately the same price it paid Todd Frazier (two years and $17MM). After some internal debate, though, the club opted for Frazier’s power and glovework at the hot corner over Nunez’s superior batting average and baserunning prowess but weaker contact profile and glovework.

    Braves Focused On Depth Additions Thu, 08 Feb 2018 23:06:57 +0000
  • Heyman also notes that the Braves would add a third baseman if they can find a match on a one-year deal, but they’re comfortable using Johan Camargo there for a year while waiting for prospect Austin Riley to finish off his development in the upper minors. More generally, he adds that they’re looking more at “depth” signings than anything else at this point of the offseason.

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    Braves Unlikely To Sign Third Baseman Wed, 07 Feb 2018 16:01:23 +0000
  • Veteran knuckler R.A. Dickey has not completely ruled out a return to the hill in 2018, Rosenthal also notes. All indications to date have been that Dickey would likely retire. But it seems there’s still at least an outside possibility he’ll pitch at 43 years of age. The Braves declined a club option over Dickey despite the fact that he turned in a productive 2017 season, throwing 190 innings of 4.26 ERA ball.
  • David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution breaks down the current Braves thinking at third base. Many have wondered why Atlanta did not beat the offer made by the division-rival Mets for third baseman Todd Frazier, but O’Brien notes that the team would likely have had to dangle quite a bit more money to lure Frazier from his home town to play for an organization with a less experienced roster. Of even greater interest, O’Brien says the Braves front office likely doesn’t have much free cash to work with, making a pursuit of Mike Moustakas unlikely as well. The team’s contract swap with the Dodgers moved payroll forward to the 2018 balance sheet, so the odds are at this point that the club will simply allow its array of young infielders to sink or swim in the majors.
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    Braves Hoping For More Power From Young Bats Fri, 02 Feb 2018 04:41:32 +0000 The Dodgers’ best chance of moving Matt Kemp may be to package the veteran outfielder (and the $43MM remaining on his contract) along with some good minor league talent to a team with payroll space that is willing to “buy a prospect,” Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan writes.  Such moves are becoming increasingly common around baseball, such as the Padres’ acquisition of Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell from the Yankees earlier this offseason.  The Dodgers have a deep enough farm system that they might not necessarily have to offer one of their top-tier prospects to unload Kemp; Sullivan cites righty Wilmer Font as the type of MLB-ready minor leaguer that could step right into the rotation of a rebuilding team.  Some creativity may be required to work out a Kemp trade, though the five-player, luxury tax-bending deal with the Braves that brought Kemp back to L.A. was itself pretty unique.  If it costs the Dodgers a star prospect to get Kemp off the books, it might be worth it in the long run if the trade frees up enough money for the Dodgers to re-sign Yu Darvish.

    • The Braves’ lineup has lost a lot of pop with the departures of Kemp, Matt Adams, and Brandon Phillips, and the team’s primary hope is that its young players emerge as power threats, Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.  Continued development from Ozzie Albies, Rio Ruiz, and Johan Camargo would be a boon for the team, and big things are expected from star prospect Ronald Acuna.  There’s also still the potential for another addition, GM Alex Anthopoulos said: “We’ve talked about the loss of power and how to make up for it.  I don’t have an answer today. Normally you’d say ’Wow, it’s late January, how do you not have an answer?’ But there’s a lot of free agents still out there and there’s a lot of bodies.”
    • The Marlins’ fire sale is the largest ever, The Ringer’s Ben Lindbergh writes, as only one team in baseball history has traded more WAR in a single offseason than Miami has this winter.  That team (the 1899 Louisville Colonels) technically shouldn’t count given the unusual circumstances — Colonels owner Barney Dreyfuss bought a share of the Pirates and then sold much of Louisville’s top talent to Pittsburgh.  Lindbergh’s piece chronicles the top 20 biggest talent purges from one season to the next, with some other recent teams (the 2014 Braves, 2014 A’s, and 2012 Marlins) also appearing on the list.
    At Least Two Rotation Jobs Up For Grabs In Braves' Camp Wed, 31 Jan 2018 14:00:43 +0000
  • The Braves plan to have a spirited Spring Training competition for rotation jobs, as manager Brian Snitker tells Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that as many as three starting spots could be up for grabs.  Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz have two slots spoken for, and the newly-acquired Brandon McCarthy will be a strong favorite for the third slot if healthy.  That leaves the likes of Max Fried, Luiz Gohara, Lucas Sims, Sean Newcomb, and Mike Soroka battling for the remaining rotation spots, plus Scott Kazmir could also be a factor if he can recover from the injuries that sidelined him for all of the 2017 season.  Atlanta is more likely to use the starters that don’t win jobs as relievers rather than again use a six-man rotation, Snitker said.
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    Acuna On His Timeline To Majors Mon, 29 Jan 2018 15:40:28 +0000 Ronald Acuna is widely regarded as the best outfield prospect in baseball (if not the best prospect overall), but he tells’s Mark Bowman that he’s also cognizant of the fact that he could open the year in the minors for a few weeks for service time reasons. The Braves could keep Acuna in Triple-A for as few as 12 days to open the season and, in doing so, secure an extra year of control over the 20-year-old’s future. “I’ve talked to some people, and I think the debate is whether they should keep me [with Triple-A Gwinnett] for a couple weeks or a month or however that works, contractually, to benefit the team,” Acuna tells Bowman through his interpreter. “I’ve tried not to focus on any of that. My goal is just to compete for the roster spot and hopefully make the team.”

    The Braves, of course, would hardly be the first team to aggressively employ service time manipulation of that form with its young talent, and there’s every argument for doing so under the current construction of the service time system — especially for a team that would need quite a few things to go its way to be in Wild Card contention.

    Quick Hits: Freeman, LeVangie, NPB/KBO, Aces Mon, 29 Jan 2018 04:01:31 +0000 Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman feels great about the strength of his left wrist; strength he believes he lacked at the end of last season. Mark Bowman of wrote a detailed article that includes plenty of confident words from Freeman, who told reporters he began hitting earlier than he usually does, and even took batting practice in 25-degree whether just to see if he experienced any pain. “I have had zero problems.” Freeman said. “Everything feels great and everything feels strong.” Though he doesn’t regret coming back early after being hit by a pitch in May, Freeman experienced some frustration when his wrist fatigued during August and September. Notably, the two-time All-Star also had Lasik surgery to help alleviate some eye irritation issues he experienced while wearing contact lenses. Freeman also expressed his excitement to see top prospect Ronald Acuna arrive at the MLB level.

    Some other interesting items from around MLB as we near the end of January…

    • Count Rick Porcello among those in the Red Sox organization who are excited about working with new pitching coach Dana LeVangie. A piece by Tim Britton of the Providence Journal gives some insight into a phone call between the two earlier in the offseason. “A couple of days after he got the pitching coach job, he called me and we talked for an hour on things he had mapped out for me coming into the season that I need to work on and get better with,” Porcello told reporters last week. Indeed, it seems as though relievers Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel have already had a great experience working with him during his time as the team’s bullpen coach.  As for LeVangie, he says his time as the Red Sox’ bullpen catcher allowed him to get a feel for movement and spin rate of pitches, as well as identify specifics of a pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses.
    • The pursuit of financial security causes a handful of players to give up MLB 40-man roster spots every year in order to pursue opportunities in the NPB and the KBO, writes Kyle Glaser of Baseball America. Glaser tells the short version of Seth Frankoff’s story, though he’s just one of more than 100 ex-major or minor leaguers who played in Asian baseball leagues in 2017. While minor-league players on a 40-man roster earn just over $40K per year, players can make nearly 20 times that amount playing overseas. Other benefits of playing in the NPB and KBO include luxury apartments for foreign players, exceedingly high energy levels from people in the crowd, and a potential path back to the majors if they can improve their skill sets.
    • Zach Crizer of lists right-handers Danny Salazar (Indians) and Jake Odorizzi (Rays), and left-hander Ariel Miranda (Mariners) as pitchers with the potential to reach “ace” status in 2018. Crizer uses some incredibly specific stats to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these three pitchers, showing a potential path to a breakout for each one. The piece includes videos and heat maps as well; it’s an intriguing read, particularly considering that Salazar and Odorizzi have been mentioned in trade rumors.
    Braves Still Considering Adding Bullpen, 3B Help Sun, 28 Jan 2018 17:02:24 +0000
  • Alex Anthopoulos hasn’t made many headline-grabbing transactions this winter, his first as Atlanta’s GM, though he revealed Saturday that the Braves “kicked around trying to get a (number) one- or two-type starter.” They’re holding off on that for the time being, though, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jeff Schultz, who relays that the Braves are still considering adding to their bullpen and acquiring a third baseman to potentially unseat starter Johan Camargo. They’re said to have interest in free agent infielder Eduardo Nunez, one of the top third base-capable players on the market.
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    Braves Don't Want To Block Acuna With Major Outfield Move Sat, 27 Jan 2018 21:21:47 +0000
  • As you might expect, rival teams have been coveting Braves outfield prospect Ronald Acuna, with the Marlins most recently asking for Acuna in as part of a Christian Yelich trade package.  Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters (including Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) that the team might still consider an outfield move “but [one] that’s not as big because we don’t want to block Acuna” in 2018.  Arguably the top prospect all of baseball, Acuna is expected to debut in Atlanta’s outfield as early as Opening Day.
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    Braves Have Expressed Interest In Eduardo Nunez Fri, 19 Jan 2018 18:34:56 +0000
  • Also via Heyman, Eduardo Nunez is seeing his market “heat up” a bit. There are as many as eight teams that have shown interest in Nunez of late, including the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Giants, BravesBrewers and Royals. (Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area recently suggested that a reunion with San Francisco wasn’t likely, implying that Nunez can receive superior offers elsewhere.) Heyman joins others that have recently reported that Nunez is on the Mets’ radar as a second base option. The Yankees, Red Sox, Braves and Brewers all make varying degrees of sense as well, though it’s tougher to see a clear fit with the Jays, Giants and Royals for various reasons. Toronto has already added Aledmys Diaz and Yangervis Solarte this winter (with Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis both still on board as well), while the Giants picked up Evan Longoria and are reportedly striving to remain under the luxury tax threshold. Nunez would almost certainly put them over, as they’re within less than $5MM of that point at present. As for the Royals, they could use a versatile infielder, but they’re also gearing up for a rebuild.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald takes a look at the latest on Christian Yelich’s trade market, reporting that the Marlins have informed Yelich’s camp that they’ll entertain offers on him but are not making any promises of a trade. Miami has made its asking price on Yelich a bit more realistic in recent weeks, other teams tell Jackson, but they’re still seeking top-tier talent and looking for multiple prospects from the top 10 of potential trading partners (as one would expect). Both Jackson and Heyman (in a separate article on Yelich) suggest that the Marlins are eyeing talent that is in Double-A and Triple-A, as opposed to high-upside talent that is further down the minor league pipeline. Both reports confirm that the Marlins did indeed ask the Braves about Ronald Acuna (as MLB Network’s Peter Gammons previously reported), only to be rebuffed.

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    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.