MLB Trade Rumors » » Atlanta Braves 2017-10-22T03:08:50Z Kyle Downing <![CDATA[NL Notes: Braves, Bosio, Righetti]]> 2017-10-21T18:56:02Z 2017-10-21T18:56:02Z The Braves are in an unfavorable position headed into the offseason. John Coppolella has already resigned due to a breach of MLB’s rules regarding the international players market, leaving a dark cloud hovering over the organization and rumors swirling as to whether or not John Hart will remain with the organization. Braves beat reporter Mark Bowman of writes about some of the inconveniences the organization faces due to this uncertainty. Because the Braves don’t know who will be “steering the ship”, as Bowman puts it, the club cannot yet decide on its direction for the upcoming winter. Decisions such as R.A. Dickey’s contract option and potential trades to clear a spot for top prospect Ronald Acuna are floating in baseball operations limbo. In the meantime, director of player personnel Perry Minasian and assistant general manager Adam Fisher have scrambled to learn as much as they can about the club’s assets and needs, having been with the organization for just one month. The club will hope for answers on Hart’s future in Atlanta sooner rather than later in order to gain clarity on the club’s direction for the offseason.

More news from around the National League…

  • The Cubs have dismissed longtime pitching coach Chris Bosio, according to a tweet from Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Robert Murray of FanRag sports later confirmed the news. Bosio had been the club’s pitching coach since 2012, including earning a World Series ring with the club just last season after guiding the Cubs pitching staff to a 3.15 team ERA. Murray names Jim Hickey as a potential candidate to fill Bosio’s role.
  • Earlier today, Nightengale also tweeted that the Giants dismissed pitching coach Dave Righetti, shifting him to a role in the front office. Murray was able to confirm the reassignment of Righetti through his own sources. Righetti had been the pitching coach in San Francisco for 17 years, making him the longest-tenured pitching coach in major league baseball before his reassignment, as well as the longest-tenured pitching coach in all of Giants history. Murray notes that the club’s 4.50 ERA in 2017 can’t all be blamed on Righetti; ace Madison Bumgarner missed a large portion of the season due to a shoulder injury sustained in a dirt bike accident. According to a later tweet by Jon Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, Righetti will serve as a special assistant to GM Bobby Evans. Shea also adds that bullpen coach Mark Gardner will also be shifted to a special assignment role in the front office, while assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take on a special assistant role in baseball operations.
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Braves Notes: Hart, Investigation, Weiss]]> 2017-10-18T04:44:48Z 2017-10-18T04:44:48Z Major League Baseball will interview Braves president of baseball operations John Hart as part of its investigations into the club’s international dealings, tweets’s Mark Bowman. To this point, it’s unclear whether Hart is at risk of discipline, though the very fact that he remains with the club after former GM John Coppolella has been forced to resign could be telling. The Macon Telegraph reported over the weekend that Hart was by no means an innocent bystander in the scandal, though it’s unlikely that the league will announce anything definitive in the near future. Braves CEO Terry McGuirk said this morning that MLB’s investigation is near its conclusion, per Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but McGuirk also stressed that the league isn’t likely to reveal its findings until the World Series has concluded. McGuirk sidestepped making any telling comments about the investigation but did say: “I don’t think there will be any questions (unanswered) when we are able to discuss it.”

More on the Braves and their division…

  • Bowman also reports (on Twitter) that former Rockies manager and Braves infielder Walt Weiss is among the candidates to join the Braves’ coaching staff in 2018. Weiss could slot in as the bench coach under manager Brian Snitker, replacing Terry Pendleton in that role.
Steve Adams <![CDATA[R.A. Dickey Seemed Inclined To Retire At End Of Regular Season]]> 2017-10-17T18:21:28Z 2017-10-17T00:26:12Z The Braves are still waiting to see where the MLB investigation into international signing violations will lead. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the latest on that situation, though it’s mostly a holding pattern. O’Brien also notes that his expectation is that veteran righty R.A. Dickey will choose to walk away from the game even if the club intends to pick up his $8MM option. Per O’Brien, it “seemed since he last week of the season that [Dickey] was leaning heavily toward retiring.”

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Braves Investigation: “Unprecedented” Violations]]> 2017-10-15T14:19:57Z 2017-10-15T14:19:16Z SUNDAY: Hart may not be innocent in this matter, Bill Shanks of the Macon Telegraph reports in a piece that’s worth reading in full. He “knew everything,” according to two scouts who spoke with Shanks, with one source saying that “(Hart) is just as guilty as Coppy. He helped create this mess by letting Coppy do what he wanted to do.” If true, Hart could be on his way out of Atlanta. His contract is set to expire after the World Series, when the league is likely to announce the results of an investigation that continues to see allegations pour in, per Shanks. MLB investigators have not spoken with Hart, Shanks writes, but they have interviewed Coppolella multiple times, including at his house, and Blakely, among other past and current Braves employees. The league could also talk with some of the Braves’ international scouts, Shanks adds. Even after his resignation, the Braves offered Coppolella a severance package – a move that “amazed” several scouts, Shanks relays – but he rejected it and has hired an attorney, which could suggest that lawsuits are forthcoming.

THURSDAY: The investigation into apparent international signing violations by the Braves has already claimed the jobs of GM John Coppolella and special assistant Gordon Blakely, but the investigation is still ongoing. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has a lengthy update (subscription required and recommended) on the matter, citing sources that tell him the team’s “violations are unprecedented in scope.”

Even as the Atlanta organization weighs its next steps, which will necessarily include a replacement for Coppolella and others, the league continues to dig. There’s no evidence to this point that president of baseball operations John Hart had knowledge or involvement in the transgressions, per Rosenthal, though he also hasn’t yet had his sit-down with investigators.

Whether or not the matter can be traced higher than Coppolella will obviously play a role in the ultimate punishment. That said, Rosenthal emphasizes that commissioner Rob Manfred could potentially also cite lack of “oversight” or “institutional control” over the now-deposed GM. Of course, it’s not as if Coppolella was just a rogue, lower-level employee; he was entrusted with significant decision-making authority and was the face of the front office to the public.

We heard earlier today that former Braves exec and current Royals GM Dayton Moore is not expected to depart for Atlanta — a possibility that many have cited as a potential out for the Braves, but one that might require the departure of Hart (as well as interest from Moore and permission by Kansas City). And based upon Rosenthal’s report, it seems the expectation is that Hart will continue to lead the charge in finding a new GM and overseeing a broader realignment of internal personnel.

Timelines on all of these threads — the league investigation, hiring of a GM, and assessment and actions on current Braves employees — are not yet known. There are a few weeks yet to go before the organization will begin making key offseason decisions, and the continued presence of Hart would presumably help with continuity. Still, it’s obviously imperative for the Braves that they receive and deal with the punishment that’s expected while lining things up for a hectic offseason to come.

Just what kinds of sanctions might be anticipated? Per Rosenthal, “a substantial fine, a loss of prospects and restrictions on the Braves’ participation in the international market” are all on the table. The devil here is in the details, of course, as that slate of possible demerits could either be relatively light or rather compelling, depending upon how extensively applied.

Broadly speaking, we still don’t know how all of this will turn out. And it’s far from clear that the Braves will be fully diverted from their course — which, the organization hoped, would soon reach a stage of contending. But it’s also not yet apparent just how president John Schuerholz or the corporate ownership at Liberty Media feel about things. And given the evident severity of the misdeeds committed, it certainly seems as if further internal turmoil can be anticipated before the team is ready again to return its sole focus to the on-field product.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Dayton Moore Unlikely To Leave Royals For Braves]]> 2017-10-14T05:23:19Z 2017-10-13T00:21:27Z Within his latest AL Notes column, FanRag’s Jon Heyman writes that Royals GM Dayton Moore doesn’t appear to be going anywhere despite rumors about him possibly taking over the Braves’ front office. Moore, who cut his teeth in the front office world as a Braves exec, has been an oft-rumored replacement for John Coppolella in Atlanta following his resignation as general manager.

  • The Braves were leaning toward a managerial change before last week’s scandal with now-former GM John Coppolella, Heyman reports. Internal candidates Bo Porter and Ron Washington, both former big league managers, were the leading candidates to take over the dugout, and Heyman writes that one of the two would “likely” have been handed that job. Instead, Brian Snitker will keep his post. Meanwhile, with Moore likely to remain loyal to the Royals, some candidates that are “in the mix,” per Heyman, include former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, former Marlins general manager Dan Jennings and current Nationals assistant GM Doug Harris.
  • Also on the subject of the Braves, Heyman writes in his NL Notes roundup that the team is waiting for R.A. Dickey to determine whether he wants to play in 2018 or retire. Atlanta would be “happy” to pick up his $8MM option for the 2018 season after he ably served as an innings eater and a veteran mentor to the team’s young pitchers.
Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Braves' GM Search]]> 2017-10-10T13:19:40Z 2017-10-10T04:57:18Z
  • Braves director of baseball operations Billy Ryan is a candidate to take over as their general manager, along with the previously reported trio of Royals GM Dayton Moore and Nationals assistants Doug Harris and Dan Jennings, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today. However, according to the Nationals, the Braves haven’t yet requested permission to interview anyone from their organization (Twitter links). Of course, no matter how the Atlanta organization proceeds, it has more questions to answer than who’ll take over for resigned GM John Coppolella. As David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, some in the game anticipate the league will uncover broad malfeasance by the organization. There are quite a few remaining questions, writes O’Brien, for a club that now has to operate with care to get back on the right track.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Braves Granted Permission To Speak To Harris, Jennings About GM Job]]> 2017-10-08T19:32:17Z 2017-10-08T19:32:17Z
  • The Nationals granted the Braves permission to speak to Nats assistant GM Doug Harris and special assistant Dan Jennings about Atlanta’s general manager vacancy, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Twitter link).  Earlier this week, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reported that Nats GM Mike Rizzo contacted Braves upper management to give Harris a recommendation.  Harris was originally hired as Washington’s farm director in 2010 and has since risen to the AGM and VP of player personnel roles, as well as overseeing the Nationals’ minor league system.  He has also worked with John Hart before, as Harris was a Rangers scout when Hart was Texas’ general manager.  Jennings, of course, is best known for his long stint with the Marlins, most notably as their general manager and then on-field manager.  In another tweet, O’Brien hears from the Braves that their GM search “will likely be slow developing,” which isn’t surprising given the abrupt nature of the team’s front office shakeup earlier this week.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cafardo On Braves' Front Office]]> 2017-10-07T23:10:35Z 2017-10-07T23:10:35Z
  • Royals GM Dayton Moore will only head to Atlanta if the Braves give him complete control, according to Cafardo. That jibes with a previous report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and suggests that president John Hart would have to exit for a Moore-Braves union to come to fruition. Hart isn’t planning on leaving, however, Cafardo reports. Two members of the Nationals’ front office – assistant GM Doug Harris and the previously reported Dan Jennings – as well as ex-Red Sox GM Ben Cherington (now in Toronto) are on Hart’s radar as he seeks a replacement for John Coppolella, Cafardo relays.

  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[MLB Still Investigating Braves]]> 2017-10-07T06:38:41Z 2017-10-07T01:50:21Z The league’s investigation into the Braves for international signing violations is still ongoing, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Indeed, MLB is sending out investigators to chat with club officials this week. It’s doubtful that any results will be released while the postseason is ongoing, but all eyes will be on commissioner Rob Manfred as things progress. The investigation has already resulted in the resignations of Atlanta GM John Coppolella and special assistant Gordon Blakely; at this point, it’s far from clear just where it could go and what kind of fallout might occur.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Braves' Front Office, Dayton Moore]]> 2017-10-06T03:31:40Z 2017-10-06T02:49:45Z
  • Heyman also reports that Braves chairman John Schuerholz and president of baseball ops John Hart are “said to be at odds” with one another, though Hart firmly denied the notion. “John and I are lifelong friends, and there is mutual baseball respect as well,” Hart tells Heyman. “Nobody totally agrees on every player, staff member, etc. That’s just baseball.” Heyman adds that Schuerholz “would love” to bring Royals GM Dayton Moore on board to run the team’s baseball ops department and groom Schuerholz’s son, Jonathan. The younger Schuerholz is currently the team’s assistant director of player development. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweeted yesterday that Moore is “more open” to leaving the Royals for the Braves than in the past, though the decision will likely boil down to whether he’s given full authority over the team’s baseball operations department. That’d suggest that Hart sticking around and holding onto the “president” title he’s held for the past few seasons would be a deterrent to hiring Moore.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Braves Exercise Brian Snitker’s 2018 Option]]> 2017-10-05T16:04:12Z 2017-10-05T16:02:34Z TODAY: Atlanta has announced that it is bringing back Snitker for 2018. Decisions on the coaching staff have yet to be made, the team noted.

    YESTERDAY: The Braves are picking up manager Brian Snitker’s option for the 2018 season, Bill Shanks of the Macon Telegraph first reported (via Twitter). David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that decisions about the coaching staff are still being made, adding there won’t be a formal announcement of Snitker’s return until later this week.

    The Atlanta organization didn’t finish the season well, limping to a 72-90 win-loss record after playing at a .500 clip through the first ninety games. That was the opposite scenario from the year prior, when the team improved after Snitker took the helm in the middle of the season.

    It’s tough to blame Snitker too much for the struggles, though. While the front office evidently hoped for better, the team was relying on a mix of inexperienced players and aging veterans that never looked to make up a particularly reliable roster.

    As the regular season wound down, there was plenty of speculation that the Braves would move on from Snitker and go out looking for another skipper to help the club move into contention. Then came the shocking departure of GM John Coppolella, which suddenly introduced uncertainty into an organization that had hoped for a return to its former stability.

    Per O’Brien, the players generally support Snitker. With the fallout from the Coppolella situation still percolating — the league is still working through its investigation and the team will need to hire a new GM — president of baseball operations John Hart and president John Schuerholz may have decided the time was not right to pursue a change in the dugout.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Julio Teheran Switches Agencies]]> 2017-10-04T13:57:54Z 2017-10-04T13:57:54Z Braves right-hander Julio Teheran has changed representation and is now a Wasserman client, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (via Twitter).

    Set to turn 27 in January, Teheran is coming off the worst full season of his professional career by most statistical measures. While he continued to demonstrate durability with his fifth straight season of 185 or more innings, Teheran saw his strikeout, walk and home-run rates all trend in the wrong direction. In 188 1/3 innings, he averaged 7.2 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 with an ugly 1.48 HR/9 mark en route to a 4.49 ERA. That ERA was the highest of his career, and metrics like FIP (4.95), xFIP (4.96) and SIERA (4.89) actually painted an even more troublesome picture.

    Teheran did pitch better away from the newly constructed and homer-friendly SunTrust Park, though the discrepancy between his performance wasn’t quite as large as his 5.86 home ERA and 3.14 road ERA would suggest at first glance. His K/BB numbers and batted-ball profile were all relatively similar, but he enjoyed an unsustainable 83.7 percent strand rate on the road that helped to buoy his bottom-line run prevention numbers. On the plus side, Teheran is nowhere near the top of the leaderboard for average exit velocity or number of 95+ mph balls yielded, as measured by Statcast, so perhaps there’s some hope for better fortune with the long ball in 2018 and beyond.

    He’ll have plenty of time to work on reestablishing himself as a quality mid-rotation piece moving ahead, as Teheran is still under contract through at least the 2019 season thanks to the six-year, $32.4MM contract he inked prior to the 2014 campaign. He’s slated to earn $8MM in 2018 and $11MM in 2019, and that contract contains a $12MM option ($1MM buyout) for the 2020 season as well. Even if the Braves — or a team to which he’s theoretically traded — exercise the option, Teheran would still hit the open market as a 29-year-old on the brink of his age-30 campaign.

    His switch in representation has been noted in MLBTR’s Agency Database, which contains agent information on more than 2,500 Major League and Minor League players. If you come across any errors or omissions in the database, let us know via email:

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[More Members Of Braves' Scouting Dept. Could Resign]]> 2017-10-03T02:56:47Z 2017-10-03T02:56:47Z
  • The hammer dropped Monday on Braves general manager John Coppolella and special assistant Gordon Blakely, both of whom resigned over alleged rule violations. Their departures might not be the end, either, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more members of the Braves’ scouting department forced to resign.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[MLB Investigating Braves’ Kevin Maitan Signing]]> 2017-10-03T05:20:17Z 2017-10-03T02:31:43Z 9:31pm: Coppolella and the Braves allegedly agreed to a deal this summer with 14-year-old Haitian Dominican shortstop prospect Robert Puason, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. As Rosenthal points out, Puason isn’t eligible to sign until he’s 16, so the Braves are in violation if they did indeed reach an agreement with him. But the league is also investigating other teams for agreeing to sign underage prospects, per Rosenthal. One international scouting director informed him that up to 15 clubs have reached deals with players who, like Puason, aren’t allowed to sign until 2019. Keith Law of ESPN adds (on Twitter) that there are some prospects who can’t sign until 2020 but already have verbal agreements with teams. The current international setup has led to frustration from baseball officials, meaning there will be another attempt to institute a worldwide draft after the collective bargaining agreement expires in 2021, Rosenthal writes.

    As for Maitan, Rosenthal relays that MLB hasn’t found any improprieties in his signing to this point, though that could change.

    6:19pm: As part of its investigation into ousted Braves general manager John Coppolella’s alleged violations of its international rules, Major League Baseball is looking into the team’s 2016 signing of prospect Kevin Maitan, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports in a must-read piece. In what would be a stunning development, MLB could declare the 17-year-old Maitan a free agent if it finds improprieties in the signing, according to Passan.

    The Coppolella-led Braves inked the Venezuelan-born Maitan to a $4.25MM bonus at the outset of last year’s international free agent period. Maitan was the top free agent in the 2016 class and drew comparisons to Braves legend Chipper Jones, Miguel Cabrera and Miguel Sano at the time of his signing. In the months before Maitan joined the Braves, he lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Florida for “a significant amount of time” with another teenage prospect who also signed with the team, Passan details. It’s unclear, though, whether the Braves funded the prospects’ stay in the U.S., Passan adds.

    In 2017, his first season in the Atlanta organization, the switch-hitting Maitan played shortstop at the rookie level and slashed .241/.290/.340 with two home runs in 176 plate appearances. ranks him as the No. 5 prospect in the Braves’ deep farm system and the 38th-best youngster in the game. Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs (No. 67) and Baseball America (No. 71) also regard Maitan as a top 75 prospect.

    Coppollela may have skirted regulations when signing Maitan, but it seems he also disregarded MLB’s rules domestically. In August 2016, for instance, Coppolella allegedly contacted the representative for an impending free agent wanting to discuss the player well before the market opened in November, which would have violated tampering rules, per Passan. Additionally, Passan explains that Coppolella is alleged to have offered 2017 second-round pick Drew Waters a car in order to get him to sign a below-slot deal. The Braves signed the 18-year-old outfielder to a $1.5MM bonus that came in under the $1.675MM slot value of Waters’ pick, No. 41 overall, but his agent, Keith Grunewald, told sources Passan spoke with that Coppolella’s car offer was only made as a joke. Coppolella met with MLB officials in New York last week to discuss the accusations against him, Passan relays.

    While it appears MLB could seriously punish the Braves for their actions under Coppollela, his career in the game may be over. Coppolella’s methods in Atlanta did not win him many fans among either his peers around the league or fellow members of the Braves’ front office, Passan writes. One high-ranking Braves official revealed to Passan that things became toxic with Coppolella around, saying last week that “this place is totally [expletive] up. I just hope when it blows up, it doesn’t take all of us down.”

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On John Coppolella, Braves]]> 2017-10-03T00:22:23Z 2017-10-03T00:22:50Z 7:22pm: Associates of Moore believe he’s likely to leave the Royals for the Braves, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets.

    5:42pm: Braves president of baseball operations John Hart spoke to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other reporters Monday about general manager John Coppolella’s resignation, which was a forced exit, O’Brien writes.

    Hart expressed deep disappointment in Coppolella, confirming he committed “an MLB rules violation that has to do with the international marketplace.” Hart also revealed that the league “dug up a number of things that were quite serious, as far as the MLB ruless” in its investigation, one that went back roughly two years, O’Brien tweets. Coppolella’s international violations were merely “the tip of the iceberg,” a source told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN (Twitter link).

    As the Braves move forward, Hart will assume their GM role on a temporary basis, but a couple of potential full-time successors to Coppollela have already emerged in the rumor mill. One possibility is Royals GM Dayton Moore, who started his career in Atlanta in 1994 before eventually heading to Kansas City in 2006. Moore still “has a soft spot” for the Braves, Crasnick notes (Twitter links). Crasnick also points out that with the Royals perhaps entering a rebuild and having an up-and-coming GM prospect in J.J. Picollo, now may be the time for them and Moore to part ways.

    Should the Braves strike out on a potential Moore pursuit, they might turn to Dan Jennings, who “could be a top candidate,” according to O’Brien (on Twitter). Jennings is a special assistant to Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, but he’s better known for his time with the Marlins. The 57-year-old worked as Miami’s GM from 2013-15, and he even served as its interim manager for 124 games in his final season with the club. Jennings ceded the GM position when he shifted to the dugout, an experiment that yielded a 55-69 record and led to his firing after in October 2015.

    [RELATED: Braves News & Rumors On Facebook]

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Coaching/Managerial Notes: Hot Seats, Royals, Scioscia, Snitker]]> 2017-10-02T19:41:32Z 2017-10-02T19:41:32Z Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic runs down the big league managers that could be on the hot seat (subscription required and strongly recommended). Rosenthal lists Braves skipper Brian Snitker as an immediate candidate and notes that Red Sox skipper John Farrell, too, could be on the hot seat if the Sox are bounced in the ALDS for a second straight season. Farrell was inherited rather than hired by president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. While Orioles owner Peter Angelos isn’t likely to dismiss Buck Showalter, the tension between him and GM Dan Duquette continues to loom large in the organization. Rosenthal also covers several other managers on shaky ground that could find themselves in jeopardy with poor team showings in 2018.

    A bit from MLB’s dugouts around the league…

    • The Royals and pitching coach Dave Eiland reached a mutual agreement to part ways, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman. The 51-year-old Eiland spent six seasons as the pitching coach for manager Ned Yost in Kansas City, helping the team to consecutive World Series appearances in 2014-15 and, of course, a World Series victory in the latter of those two seasons. He also spent 2008-10 as the Yankees pitching coach, so Eiland’s considerable experience should get him some type of opportunity with another organization, even if the Royals’ pitching staff as a whole underperformed in a disappointing 2017 campaign. Rustin Dodd and Pete Grahoff of the Kansas City Star, meanwhile, report that bench coach Don Wakamatsu, bullpen coach Doug Henry and assistant hitting coach Brian Buchanan are also expected to be dismissed. Kansas City has since announced that Eiland and Wakamatsu will not have their contracts renewed.
    • Angels manager Mike Scioscia will be back with the team in 2018 — the final season of his 10-year contract as skipper of the Halos, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Scioscia hopes to manage the Angels beyond the 2018 season, Fletcher notes, but he’s content heading into the final season of his contract without signing an extension. The 58-year-old Scioscia is Major League Baseball’s longest tenured manager, as he’s been skipper of the Angels since the 2000 campaign. The Halos were in contention for the American League’s second Wild Card spot up until the final week of the season despite a slew of injuries that decimated their pitching staff for much of the year.
    • Braves president of baseball operations plans to meet with manager Brian Snitker to discuss his future “as early as today,” tweets’s Mark Bowman. The Braves will have a decision on the coaching staff at some point midweek, per Bowman. Notably, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that Hart said today’s sudden resignation of GM John Coppolella in the wake of an MLB investigation isn’t likely to impact the decision one way or another (Twitter links). O’Brien guesses that the option on Snitker will be exercised, though it seems that a formal decision has not yet been made.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Braves General Manager John Coppolella Resigns]]> 2017-10-02T18:38:33Z 2017-10-02T17:02:37Z In stunning fashion, the Braves announced today that general manager John Coppolella has resigned, effective immediately, in the wake of a “breach of Major League Baseball rules regarding the international player market.” Special assistant Gordon Blakely is also reportedly resigning from his post as Major League Baseball works to conclude an investigation that is said to have been ongoing for multiple weeks.

    John Coppolella | Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    “Major League Baseball is investigating the matter with our full cooperation and support,” said president of baseball operations John Hart. “We will not be issuing any further comment until the investigation is complete.”

    The Braves are immediately beginning the search for a replacement, per their release, and Hart will assume all of Coppolella’s duties for the time being while serving as the primary decision-maker in baseball operations matters.  FanRag’s Jon Heyman points out (via Twitter) that Hart wasn’t under contract beyond this year, though it seems he’ll stick around at least until the team has a replacement for Coppolella in place, if not longer.

    While it’s not yet clear what transgressions the Braves have committed, the resignation of a general manager — be it forced or voluntary — would represent the most extreme outcome for any scrutiny under which GMs have come in recent years. Padres general manager A.J. Preller was suspended for one month after his team’s medical disclosure practices were revealed to be substandard, and the Red Sox were forced to tear up some agreements with international prospects they’d signed in package deals as a means of circumventing international bonus restrictions. Neither of those incidents, however, resulted in the resignation or firing of a high-ranking official.

    Coppolella’s departure as the team’s general manager comes as the team concluded its first season in the newly constructed SunTrust Park and was widely expected to take another step toward contention in 2018. Atlanta had been in the process of a lengthy rebuild for much of Coppolella’s tenure as general manager, but touted young talents such Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Sean Newcomb and Luiz Gohara, among others have reached the Majors, with wunderkind Ronald Acuna on the precipice of Major League readiness as well.

    The Braves have been among the most active teams on the international market in recent years, with an aggressive splash on the 2016-17 international market (headlined by slugger Kevin Maitan) resulting in strict limitations on the organization for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 international periods. Last signing period’s mass accumulation of talent helped to bolster the Braves to have one of the consensus top farm systems in the league. However, it also put them in the same position as a number of other clubs that shattered their bonus pools in recent years, prohibiting the Braves from signing any one international amateur player for more than $300K.

    Yahoo’s Jeff Passan and Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggest (Twitter links) that Coppolella’s rapport with other general managers wasn’t strong and that he had a reputation for being difficult, if not unpleasant to deal with. His relationship with fans, on the other hand, seemed to be a fairly strong one; Coppolella was more outspoken than most GMs, often conducting lengthy Twitter Q&As with the Braves faithful, and he was oftentimes more candid with the media than many of his front-office peers as well. That in and of itself may have rubbed some GMs the wrong way, of course, as most high-ranking front office execs are fairly tight-lipped.

    Coppolella’s ousting as GM also figures to directly impact the fate of Atlanta skipper Brian Snitker, who has a club option for the 2018 season that has not yet been exercised or declined. Snitker has told reporters that he hopes to remain in his post for years to come, though the organization has reportedly still been waffling on whether to retain him or go in a new direction for 2018 and beyond. Certainly, Coppolella’s voice would have been a prominent one in those discussions, but the decision will be left to Hart and the lieutenants of the now-former general manager.

    Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported that Coppolella would resign (Twitter links). Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reported that the Braves had been under investigation regarding their international practices for weeks and that a complaint had been levied against them (Twitter links). Rosenthal reported that Blakely would resign as well (Twitter link).

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Marlins’ Front Office Changes]]> 2017-09-30T18:43:05Z 2017-09-30T17:35:42Z SATURDAY: The reason the Marlins fired their executives before Jeter’s group assumed ownership of the team is that their contracts will now have to be paid by outgoing owner Jeffrey Loria, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. Jeter’s group will save $5MM.

    FRIDAY: The Marlins are continuing their front office housecleaning as the new ownership group prepares to take over, with Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reporting that assistant GM Mike Berger, VP of player development Marc DelPiano, VP of pitching development Jim Benedict and VP of player personnel Jeff McAvoy have all been let go.  As with the firings of four Marlins special assistants last week, incoming co-owner and CEO Derek Jeter didn’t make these new dismissals himself.  Instead, outgoing Marlins president David Samson was again asked to deliver the news to the now-former members of Miami’s baseball ops department.

    It’s normal, of course, to see new owners make wholesale changes to a team’s pre-existing front office personnel.  (The only unusual aspect seems to be the fact that Jeter is outsourcing this task to Samson rather than handle the firings personally.)  It does raise some question about Michael Hill’s future role with the team; the president of baseball operations is reportedly being kept on by Jeter and Bruce Sherman, though likely in a different capacity since so many of his chief lieutenants have now been fired.

    Several reports have tabbed two current Yankees executives as candidates to join the Marlins’ front office — VP of player development Gary Denbo and special assistant Jim Hendry.  According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Marlins have yet to contact the Yankees about Denbo or Hendry, though many within the Yankees organization believe Denbo is a sure thing to leave, possibly to become the Marlins’ new general manager.

    Hendry, of course, is a former GM himself, running the Cubs’ front office from 2002-11.  Heyman reports that Hendry has a good relationship with Jeter’s agent Casey Close, who himself has been mentioned in rumors about possibly taking on a front office role in Miami.  Close has told people, however, that there are no plans for him to leave Excel, Heyman writes.

    Two more names under consideration for front office jobs include Braves special assistant Gordon Blakeley and former Marlins VP of player development Jim Fleming, according to’s Joe Frisaro.

    As for the on-field managerial role, Don Mattingly has yet to hear about his fate for 2018, Jackson reports, though he is widely expected to be staying.  Jeter and Mattingly obviously are well-acquainted with each other from their days in New York.  Mattingly only has a 154-166 record as he finishes his second year as Miami’s skipper, though it’s hard to attribute that lack of success to Mattingly given the off-the-field tumult of the team’s sale and the tragic death of Jose Fernandez.

    Charlie Wilmoth <![CDATA[R.A. Dickey Considering Retiring After Season]]> 2017-09-30T14:24:06Z 2017-09-30T14:22:01Z Veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is considering retiring at the end of the season, he tells David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’ll just be a family decision,” he says. “We have made no official decision at all, but we certainly have had conversations around both coming back or retiring.”

    The Braves have an $8MM option or a $500K buyout on Dickey for 2018, but it appears Dickey’s decision will be somewhat independent of the Braves’ decision about whether to pick up that option. (The Braves’ plans aren’t yet clear, although 69% of MLBTR readers feel the Braves should exercise the option after a season in which Dickey ate 190 innings and was generally productive.) GM John Coppolella previously alluded to the fact that Dickey could retire despite the option, and Dickey tells O’Brien he could consider playing elsewhere if the Braves do not retain him (although it would have to be the “perfect spot,” naming Cincinnati and St. Louis as other cities that are reasonably close to his offseason home in Tennessee).

    Dickey declined the opportunity to pitch for the Braves in their season finale tomorrow, which means he’ll finish the season with 400 career appearances and 300 career starts — good round numbers to finish his career on, he points out. He has a 4.04 career ERA with 120 wins and the 2012 NL Cy Young award to his credit. He’ll turn 43 next month.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Dodgers Acquire Connor Joe From Braves]]> 2017-09-28T17:33:43Z 2017-09-28T17:33:03Z SEPT. 28: Atlanta received $500K in international money in the deal, FanRag’s Jon Heyman reports.

    SEPT. 24: The Dodgers have acquired infielder/outfielder Connor Joe from the Braves for international bonus pool space, according to Dodger Insider (Twitter link).

    This is the second trade of the year involving Joe, a 2014 first-round pick who went from Pittsburgh to Atlanta for utilityman Sean Rodriguez last month. The 25-year-old Joe went on to hit just .135/.233/.154 in 61 plate appearances with the Braves’ Double-A affiliate. He was far better this season at the Double-A level with the Pittsburgh organization, though he still only managed a modest .240/.338/.330 line in 282 trips to the plate.

    It’s unclear how much money is involved in this swap, but both the Dodgers and Braves are in the penalty and unable to spend more than $300K on any single international prospect this year.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Peterson Focusing On Improved Versatility, Utility Role]]> 2017-09-27T03:05:49Z 2017-09-27T03:05:49Z
  • Jace Peterson is now focusing on improving in the outfield so that he can become a versatile utility piece of the Braves for years to come, writes’s Chris Bumbaca. While there may have been hope that he could fill an everyday role shortly after Peterson was acquired from the Padres in the Justin Upton deal, both Peterson and Braves skipper Brian Snitker agree that his long-term role is likely an oft-used, defensively versatile bench piece and pinch-hitter. The 27-year-old Peterson is hitting .219/.315/.326 this year and has seen at least 50 innings at second base, third base, first base and in left field (plus 34 innings at short and a few short cameos in center and right).
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    Charlie Wilmoth <![CDATA[Minor Moves: Braves Select Tony Sanchez’ Contract]]> 2017-09-25T01:34:32Z 2017-09-25T01:34:32Z Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.

    • The Braves announced today that they selected the contract of catcher Tony Sanchez. It’s been an eventful few weeks for Sanchez — at the end of August, he headed from the Angels to the Braves in the Brandon Phillips swap, then spent less than two weeks on the Braves’ roster (striking out in his only plate appearance) before being outrighted. The Braves didn’t call on him while Tyler Flowers was out for a week with a bruised hand, but now Flowers is back and available, and Sanchez is as well. It seems unlikely Sanchez will play much with Flowers, Kurt Suzuki and David Freitas all available, and after a season in which Sanchez batted .272/.355/.374 in the minors, he seems like a good bet to come off the Braves’ 40-man when the season ends. Once the fourth overall pick in the draft, the 29-year-old Sanchez has now played for four organizations in the last two seasons.
    Charlie Wilmoth <![CDATA[Coppolella On Snitker, Acuna, Dickey, Flowers, 2018 Plans]]> 2017-09-25T03:35:24Z 2017-09-25T00:30:37Z Here’s the latest from out of Atlanta, via a highly informative column from Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

    • The Braves are “believed to be leaning toward” keeping Brian Snitker to manage in 2018, Bradley writes. Snitker met with Braves brass yesterday. While the team hasn’t made a final decision, and while it seems likely the team will make coaching changes even if it doesn’t dismiss its manager, GM John Coppolella characterizes the meeting as a “productive” one. Snitker’s status has been a subject of speculation over the last week, as it has looked at various points like the Braves could aim to replace Snitker with special assistant Bo Porter or third base coach Ron Washington, both of whom have MLB managerial experience. The Braves have an option on Snitker’s services for 2018.
    • Looking forward to 2018, Coppolella believes the Braves will get younger. “We’ve got arguably the best prospect in the game (Ronald Acuna) pushing his way up to Atlanta. He’s going to be given every opportunity in Spring Training,” Coppolella says. “When he’s ready, nobody’s going to stand in his way. I said the same thing about Ozzie Albies this spring, and it’s the same way.” Elsewhere, Coppolella notes that it’s possible the team could trade Matt Kemp or Nick Markakis to clear space, although that acknowledgement seems to have come in response to a direct question from Bradley.
    • Coppolella says the team “needs to make a decision” on R.A. Dickey’s club option for 2018. Other than that, the team “won’t be playing in big free-agent pitching waters,” preferring instead to give opportunities to younger pitchers. Dickey’s option is worth $8MM or a $500K buyout. He’s posted a 4.32 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 while eating 183 1/3 innings this season and would seem to be an asset at that price, although he’ll turn 43 next month. Dickey’s option is a team option, although Coppolella notes that Dickey too “needs to make a decision on whether he’s coming back,” perhaps referring to the possibility Dickey could retire. (About 70% of MLBTR readers believe the Braves should exercise Dickey’s option, via a recent poll by Jeff Todd.)
    • The Braves’ biggest priority this winter will be relief pitching Coppolella says. The team will look for one reliever or “preferably two.” The Braves’ bullpen’s 4.62 ERA this season has ranked fourth worst in the Majors.
    • The Braves have already extended Kurt Suzuki, and Coppolella repeats they’re likely to exercise fellow catcher Tyler Flowers’ $4MM option as well (rather than paying him a $300K buyout). That the Braves would plan to exercise such a cheap option comes as little surprise after Flowers’ strong .286/.378/.445 season. Also unsurprisingly, Coppolella indicates that he’s happy about the Braves’ catcher position for 2018.
    • The Braves, of course, haven’t contended in 2017, although with 70 wins, they’re already topped their 2016 total. “We’re going from 67 wins to 68 wins to 70-something wins,” says Coppolella, who emphasizes the contributions of young players (including, one assumes, rookies like Albies, Johan Camargo and Sean Newcomb, along with even newer arrivals like September callup Luiz Gohara). “We’re seeing us do it with young players. A big point for me is that you’re not seeing starts go to Joel De La Cruz. You’re not seeing innings go to Jake Brigham or Ryan Kelly. We’re doing it with kids.”
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Braves Officially Sign Jihwan Bae]]> 2017-09-24T01:02:53Z 2017-09-24T01:02:53Z The latest from the NL East:

    • Mets outfielder Michael Conforto suggested Saturday that he’s unsure if he’ll be able to slot into the team’s lineup on Opening Day next year, according to James Wagner of the New York Times (Twitter link). Conforto suffered a torn capsule in his left shoulder in late August, ending his season, and then underwent surgery earlier this month. The 24-year-old noted that the procedure should help stave off future shoulder dislocations, which would certainly be optimal for him and the Mets. Conforto emerged as a breakout performer and one of the few bright spots for the woebegone Mets before the injury, hitting .279/.384/.555 with 27 home runs in 440 plate appearances. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said on the heels of Conforto’s surgery that the club’s optimistic he won’t have to alter his swing upon returning. He’s roughly six months away from resuming baseball activities.
    • Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper is “very close” to making his highly anticipated return, manager Dusty Baker told Mark Zuckerman of and other reporters Saturday. Harper, out since Aug. 13 with injuries to his left knee and calf, could be back in Washington’s lineup as early as Monday, per Zuckerman. That would give the superstar a week to readjust to game action before the Nationals’ NLDS matchup against a to-be-determined opponent (likely the Cubs).
    • The Braves’ previously reported agreement with Korean shortstop prospect Jihwan Bae became an official signing Saturday, according to Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Braves have high hopes for the 18-year-old Bae, whom special assistant Chad MacDonald heaped praise on Saturday. “It’s an elite runner, top-of-the-scale runner,” MacDonald said. “He’s very athletic. He stays at shortstop, he’s going to be a solid to plus defender there. His bat-to-ball skills are really good. There’s more power in the bat. If everything clicks, we have a left-handed version of Trea Turner, who I signed in San Diego. Again, maybe not that much power, but certainly the impact speed and defense, with bat-to-ball skills and a left-handed hitter.” As MacDonald mentioned, he was in the Padres’ front office when they inked Turner after selecting him 13th in the 2014 draft. Turner has since blossomed into a star with the Nats.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Braves Likely To Exercise Tyler Flowers’ Option]]> 2017-09-23T23:54:39Z 2017-09-23T22:38:34Z The Braves’ catcher tandem will remain intact next season. After re-signing backup Kurt Suzuki to a one-year contract on Saturday, general manager John Coppolella told Mark Bowman of and other reporters the Braves are “strongly leaning toward” exercising starter Tyler Flowers’ $4MM club option for 2018. Buying out the O’Connell Sports Management client would cost the team $300K (Twitter link).

    “This has worked great this year and we want to see if it can work as well in 2018 too,” Coppolella said of the Flowers-Suzuki tandem (via David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on Twitter).

    Retaining Flowers should be an easy call for the Braves, who have witnessed the 31-year-old turn into a quality all-around backstop in their uniform. Flowers took an unusual route to do so, as he first joined the Braves as a 33rd-round pick in 2005 before heading to the White Sox in a 2008 trade (one that saw Javier Vazquez go to Atlanta) and then returning to his native Georgia as a free agent in December 2015.

    During his two seasons as a Brave, Flowers has mixed above-average offensive production – including a .283/.377/.444 line in 345 plate appearances this year – with brilliant work as a receiver. While Flowers threw out a mere 5 percent of attempted base stealers last year and has caught only 19 percent this season, ranking well below the 27 percent league average, both Baseball Prospectus and StatCorner have placed him among the game’s very best pitch framers in the same time period.

    All told, Flowers and Suzuki have been worth 4.5 fWAR this year, making them one of the top backstop duos in the majors in their first season together. Even if there’s some regression from the Braves’ catchers in 2018, they should still form a cost-effective pairing at a combined $7.5MM.

    [RELATED: Braves News & Rumors On Facebook]

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Braves Extend Kurt Suzuki Through 2018]]> 2017-09-25T00:18:14Z 2017-09-23T19:29:39Z The Braves have signed catcher Kurt Suzuki to a one-year deal.’s Mark Bowman initially reported (Twitter link) that the two sides were finalizing a new contract, with The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reporting that the deal will pay Suzuki $3.5MM in 2018.  Suzuki is represented by the MVP Sports Group.

    Suzuki, who turns 34 in October, came to Atlanta last winter on a one-year deal worth $1.5MM in guaranteed money.  He more than delivered on that agreement, producing a career-high 18 homers as well as a .271/.343/.525 slash line over 287 plate appearances.  Remarkably, Suzuki has an .868 OPS both at home and on the road, so his unexpected breakout at the plate can’t be entirely chalked up to the Braves’ move into hitter-friendly SunTrust Park.

    Suzuki has markedly improved his hard-hit ball rate and his contact rate for pitches outside the strike zone, and his .255 Isolated Slugging mark is the third-best of any catcher with at least 275 PA this season (just one percentage point ahead of fourth-place Gary Sanchez).  Suzuki’s defense continues to garner below-average grades as per StatCorner and Baseball Prospectus, though that is a tradeoff the Braves are willing to make given Suzuki’s bat; it also doesn’t hurt that battery-mate Tyler Flowers is one of the league’s top defensive catchers.

    Between Suzuki and Flowers, the Braves have generated 4.4 fWAR from the catcher position this season, more than any other team in baseball save the Buster Posey-powered Giants.  Atlanta has a $4MM club option on Flowers that seems like a no-brainer to be exercised, so the Braves head into next season looking very strong behind the plate.

    Rosenthal notes that talks between Suzuki and the Braves had been ongoing “for weeks” about a new contract, so the catcher was seemingly pretty unlikely to ever hit the open market.  Still, teams looking for catching help this winter now have one less ’plan B’ type of option behind the three backstops (Jonathan Lucroy, Welington Castillo, Alex Avila) who are bound to attract the most attention amongst free agent catchers.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Braves Notes: Teheran, McGuirk, Snitker, Hart]]> 2017-09-23T14:11:43Z 2017-09-23T14:10:19Z
  • Also from Gammons’ piece, he expects the Braves to be listening to offers for Julio Teheran during the GM Meetings in November.  Teheran drew some trade buzz this past summer, with Atlanta reportedly holding onto Teheran since it was unable to land another top-tier arm to replace the right-hander as the rotation’s ace.  Teheran has struggled to a 4.52 ERA over 175 1/3 IP this season, though that inflated number has been due to a lack of success at SunTrust Park — Teheran has a 6.23 ERA at home this season and a 2.84 ERA on the road.  While Teheran’s swinging-strike and contact rates have also gone in the wrong direction, between his controllable contract and the idea that he would rebound in another ballpark, the Braves would certainly garner quite a bit of interest in trade talks.
  • Braves CEO and chairman Terry McGuirk told’s Mark Bowman and other media that the team won’t make any management decisions until after the season is over, though McGuirk did praise manager Brian Snitker and president of baseball operations John Hart.  McGuirk expects Hart, whose deal is up after the season, to return in 2018.  The Braves hold a club option on Snitker’s services for next year, though there has been speculation that the team could be exploring a change in the dugout, with FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman hearing from a source that the Braves are currently “leaning toward” hiring a new manager.  Snitker will meet with the front office to learn about his future, and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that this meeting could take place as soon as today.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Braves Weighing Snitker's Future]]> 2017-09-22T17:36:06Z 2017-09-22T17:36:06Z
  • The Braves are still weighing whether to retain manager Brian Snitker beyond the 2017 season, as Heyman notes in his column and as Ken Rosenthal details at greater length for The Athletic (subscription required and strongly recommended). Per Rosenthal, the Braves don’t need to make a decision on Snitker’s 2018 option until five days after the World Series, so they still have some time to mull things over. Snitker tells Rosenthal that he’d like to continue managing for “a while,” though he says he’s not sweating the decision as it’s largely out of his control. Heyman cites a source in reporting that Atlanta is “leaning toward” making a change, though nothing’s been set in stone yet, and it’s possibly that Snitker’s option is simply exercised without any extension being issued. Rosenthal, meanwhile, takes a deeper dive into some of the reported tensions in the Braves organization and how they impact the managerial decision.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Braves Seeking Public Funding For Spring Training Facility]]> 2017-09-19T19:36:34Z 2017-09-19T13:31:04Z
  • The Braves appear to be closing in on yet another stadium deal with significant taxpayer money involved. As Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, construction on a new Spring Training facility in North Port, Florida will begin in short order — if the deal is approved today by the city’s commissioners. In addition to the well-documented move to SunTrust Park for the major-league club, the Braves have found accommodating local governments to help build stadiums for several team-owned minor-league affiliates in recent years. This latest project, in Sarasota County, has already ballooned to just over $100MM in projected costs — just over half of which will be the responsibility of the ballclub.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Should The Braves Exercise Their Option Over R.A. Dickey?]]> 2017-09-19T03:45:16Z 2017-09-19T03:45:16Z As he closes in on his 43rd birthday, Braves knuckler R.A. Dickey has shown no signs of slowing down. He has settled in as an average starter, sure, but he’s not your average “average starter,” either.

    Dickey is no longer close to being the Cy Young winner he was in 2012. Since then, though, he has emerged as the game’s preeminent provider of league-average innings. From 2013 through the present, Dickey has averaged 200 frames annually. And he has not strayed more than five percentage points in either direction from the mean ERA in any of those years.

    That’s what Atlanta thought it was signing up for when it inked the Tennessee native to a one-year, $7.5MM deal with a $8MM club option ($500K buyout) for 2018. And that’s just what the club got. Until a few rough outings in September, Dickey was allowing less than four earned per nine; now, though, he’s right back at a 4.41 ERA through 175 1/3 frames on the year — nearly identical to his results last year and good for a 101 ERA-. Dickey carries 6.6 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 on the season, right in line with his recent work.

    All told, it seems mostly reasonable to anticipate that Dickey will produce similar results next year. Fielding-independent pitching metrics have long suggested good fortune, but Dickey has consistently outperformed them and generated low batting averages on balls in play. It doesn’t take much imagination to view him as an outlier whose value isn’t appropriate measured by those metrics and who can also be expected to defy aging curves.

    Dickey can be retained for the same rate of pay. So, do the Braves still want and need him?

    Atlanta has already parted with the two other veterans it acquired last winter, Jaime Garcia and Bartolo Colon, though both were set for free agency regardless. The team probably has identified three younger starters to carry in the rotation next year, with Sean Newcomb joining holdovers Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz. None of that trio has been consistently excellent, though all have had their moments and ought to retain their roles. (Newcomb owns the best ERA of the bunch at 4.32, but he has only been asked/able to throw 89 2/3 innings over 17 starts.) Otherwise, the Braves could give a bigger opportunity to Lucas Sims or hope that Max Fried and/or Luiz Gohara win jobs in camp.

    There are other arms coming behind this group, too, and Atlanta is rumored yet again to be eyeing more established but still-controllable starters on the trade market. In honesty, though, the club needs reliable innings — if for no other reason than to avoid a situation where the club is forced either to press its young arms too hard or instead find marginal big leaguers to plug any rotation gaps that may arise (as they are wont to do). If the organization really hopes to move toward true contention, then it’s hard to imagine it relying on what’s available in-house.

    While other short-term free agent targets may offer more upside, even the best bounceback targets are just that — pitchers with talent but injury or other questions that weigh down their value and appeal. If the Braves prefer to roll the dice, they can send Dickey packing and try their luck on someone else. Or, perhaps, they can bid adieu to the grizzled veteran and aim much higher in trade and/or free agency — though the roster arguably isn’t ready enough for the club to take the kinds of long-term financial risks that led to the most recent rebuild.

    Ultimately, there are some pretty compelling reasons for Atlanta to retain the steady veteran. But it’s not quite a slam dunk, with some imaginable scenarios in which the team might simply prefer to take a different course. Some may consider the possibility that the Braves could pick up the option and trade Dickey; while that’s not out of the question, it seems unlikely a team would do that with a veteran whose contract doesn’t carry significant surplus value and who signed with that team due in no small part to geographical considerations. So, that option won’t be broken out in the poll.

    How do you think the Braves ought to proceed? (Link for app users.)

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Braves See Nick Markakis' 2018 Salary As "Fair Value"]]> 2017-09-17T23:36:43Z 2017-09-17T23:35:07Z
  • The Braves know they’ll have to eat most of Matt Kemp’s remaining salary to facilitate a trade this winter, though the team is less willing to kick in money in a potential Nick Markakis deal, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman writes.  Markakis is set to earn $10.5MM in 2018 (the last year of his contract), which the Braves see as “fair value” for the veteran outfielder, so they aren’t likely to cover “much or any” of that salary.  Of course, Atlanta’s stance could change depending on what another team is willing to offer for Markakis.  Over three seasons with the Braves, Markakis has 3.4 fWAR and is hitting .276/.357/.390 with eight homers over 616 PA in 2017.  Earlier today on MLBTR, Connor Byrne listed the Braves’ corner outfield situation as one of the Three Needs the club must address this winter.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Three Needs: Atlanta Braves]]> 2017-09-17T20:32:27Z 2017-09-17T19:25:25Z This is the latest edition in MLBTR’s Three Needs series. Click to read versions on the Tigers, Reds, Pirates, Giants and Mets.

    The Braves were among baseball’s absolute worst teams in each of the previous two seasons, finishing near the bottom of the majors in both wins and run differential. While they’re still below average in those categories (22nd in winning percentage, 19th in run differential), there has been progress this season. At 67-80, the Braves should surpass the 70-victory mark for the first time since 2014. That would obviously be a baby step, but moving forward with a healthy Freddie Freeman and the game’s No. 1-ranked farm system give the Braves legitimate reasons for hope heading into 2018. A productive offseason from general manager John Coppolella probably wouldn’t transform Atlanta into a playoff contender overnight, though pushing toward the .500 mark next year wouldn’t be an unreasonable goal. Here’s how Coppolella could make that happen…

    1.) Acquire a front-line starter:

    This is certainly a lot easier said than done, but the Braves’ actions indicate that they’re motivated to add a top-caliber starter. They’ve attempted to trade for Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Sonny Gray, Jose Quintana and Michael Fulmer, to name some high-profile hurlers, dating back to last season. Sale, Gray and Quintana have since switched teams, taking them off the table for Atlanta, but Coppolella could still try for Archer and Fulmer, among others.

    Fulmer, the Braves’ primary target at this year’s non-waiver trade deadline, seems more likely than Archer to end up on the move in the offseason. The Tigers are at the very beginning of what should be a long rebuild, after all, so it would behoove them to listen to offers Fulmer. Considering how strong their pipeline is, the Braves may be in better position than anyone else to land Fulmer, who will enter his age-25 season and final pre-arbitration campaign in 2018.

    There are a couple potential free agents to keep an eye on, too, with two-way superstar Shohei Otani reportedly set to emigrate from Japan and fellow countryman Masahiro Tanaka a possibility to opt out of his contract with the Yankees. As a 23-year-old ace who won’t significantly cash in because of the new collective bargaining agreement, most teams will kick the tires on the flamethrowing Otani during the offseason. The Braves could be among those clubs, though they’re in an especially disadvantageous position from an international spending standpoint. Where Otani will sign is extremely difficult to forecast, especially when factoring in his offensive prowess. For instance, will he strongly consider heading to the National League, where his only at-bats are likely to come on days he pitches and in pinch-hitting situations? That’s not a concern with Tanaka – who, unlike ace-caliber free agents-to-be in Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, is on the right side of 30. Set to turn 29 in November, Tanaka won’t come cheap, as vacating his pact with the Yankees would mean leaving $67MM on the table.

    Whether it’s one of the above starters or another high-end type, the front of the rotation is certainly an area worth addressing for the Braves. The club’s starters rank 22nd in the majors in fWAR (6.7) – a good portion of that (1.5) came from now-Yankee Jaime Garcia, whose final Braves start was back on July 21 – and 23rd in ERA (4.89).

    2.) Upgrade at third base:

    The performance of Johan Camargo has prevented third base from being a complete disaster this year for Atlanta, but continuing to count on him would be a gamble. While the 23-year-old rookie has given the Braves respectable production (.303/.336/.474 in 225 plate appearances), it’s smoke and mirrors to a large degree. Camargo’s .373 batting average on balls in play isn’t going to last, and his success has come in spite of a K/BB ratio (.23) that’s well below the league average (.40). Further, as Statcast shows (via Baseball Savant), Camargo’s expected weighted on-base average (.299) pales in comparison to his actual wOBA (.347).

    Fortunately for the Braves, there will be more proven options available in free agency. The length of a potential commitment they make at the hot corner could depend in part on how far away the Braves think prospects Kevin Maitan and Austin Riley are. For example, if they’re counting on either to come up in the next couple years, that could rule out Royals slugger Mike Moustakas, who will easily score the largest contract among impending free agent third basemen. Less expensive choices will include Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez and, if he’s willing to move from shortstop to third, Zack Cozart. Frazier or Cozart would provide some punch to a Braves lineup that ranks 27th in ISO (.152), while Nunez would give a team in need of a baserunning boost a notable jolt in that area. Nunez also happens to be an above-average hitter, and the Braves don’t have enough of those.

    The trade route could also be a viable avenue, with Chase Headley (Yankees), Jed Lowrie (Athletics) and Asdrubal Cabrera (Mets) standing out as Band-Aid types who might end up on the block in the offseason.

    3.) Improve the corner outfield:

    Center fielder Ender Inciarte has been terrific during his two years as a Brave, but they haven’t given him adept complements in either season. That’s going to change sometime soon when all-world prospect Ronald Acuna comes to the majors, but the Braves could still use at least one better corner outfielder in the meantime.

    While Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis would’ve made for an appealing duo several years ago, their days as decent starters appear long gone. Those two have combined for just 0.4 fWAR this year, making them the main culprits behind the Atlanta outfield’s 29th-place ranking in that category (2.1). The Braves’ nine non-Inciarte outfielders have combined for minus-0.6 fWAR. Even including Inciarte’s production, 26 individual major league outfielders have matched or bettered the output of the Braves’ group of 10.

    All of the above is to say that the Braves need to stop living in the past with at least one of the Kemp-Markakis tandem. The problem is that they may be stuck with the pair. Kemp, who will turn 33 next Saturday, is owed $21.5MM per year through 2019. The Braves would likely have to swallow nearly that entire sum to have any hope of moving him. It would be easier (but still difficult) to deal the soon-to-be 34-year-old Markakis, who’s the better and cheaper of the two (he’s due $10.5MM in 2018, the final season of his contract). Continuing with Markakis as a regular until Acuna debuts at some point in 2018 wouldn’t be catastrophic – at least he still gets on base – but adding another corner man should still be a priority.

    Among impending free agents, Jarrod Dyson stands out as a clear upgrade who wouldn’t require the Braves to break the bank. Dyson will turn 34 next summer and doesn’t offer much as a hitter, which are concerns, but the current Mariners center fielder is outstanding on the bases and with the glove. It just so happens that the Braves need help in those areas.

    Alternatively, Andrew McCutchen (Pirates), Avisail Garcia (White Sox), Brett Gardner (Yankees) and Stephen Piscotty (Cardinals), to name a few, may be worth looking into as possible trade candidates.

    [RELATED: Braves News & Rumors On Facebook]

    Charlie Wilmoth <![CDATA[Braves Could Consider Bo Porter To Replace Brian Snitker]]> 2017-09-16T18:03:51Z 2017-09-16T18:03:51Z
  • Braves special assistant Bo Porter would have the edge over coach Ron Washington for the team’s managerial job should the Braves part ways with Brian Snitker. Snitker had previously looked very likely to return for 2018, but Fan Rag’s Jon Heyman wrote earlier this week that the Braves were “assessing their managerial situation,” with Porter and Washington (both of them former MLB managers) as possibilities to replace Snitker.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Hernandez, Wainwright, Marisnick, Johnson]]> 2017-09-14T18:22:33Z 2017-09-14T18:19:43Z As planned, Felix Hernandez will come off the DL to start tonight for the Mariners, according to a club announcement. It’ll be King Felix’s first start for Seattle since July 31st. It’s been a tough year for the righty so far (this was his second stint on the disabled list for issues with his throwing shoulder), but he’ll have a chance to turn things around and keep the Mariners breathing in the AL Wild Card chase.

    Some other injury news and updates from around MLB…

    • Cardinals righty Adam Wainwright threw a bullpen session today, according to a tweet from MLB beat reporter Jenifer Langosch. At this point in the season, and with the Cards three games back in a battle for the NL Central pennant, it seems likely that the veteran will pitch out of the bullpen upon his return. Langosch also notes that reliever Seung-hwan Oh threw a bullpen session as well, while Jedd Gyorko and Dexter Fowler took practice on the field.
    • Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick left Wednesday’s game with an apparent thumb injury after sliding into second base in the top of the third inning. Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle offers some thoughts on the unfortunate situation for the AL West-leading Astros, noting that the recently-acquired Cameron Maybin and rookie Derek Fisher are likely to see increases in playing time. The organization hasn’t released details on the severity of the injury, but manager A.J. Hinch offered that, “It doesn’t look good.” For reference, significant thumb injuries — such as fractures or ligament tears — frequently require absences of at least six to eight weeks. More information will likely be available sometime after Marisnick undergoes tests in Houston today.
    • Veteran reliever Jim Johnson of the Atlanta Braves has been diagnosed with achilles tendinitis, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. He remained in Atlanta while the team traveled to Washington, and Braves manager Brian Snitker says he’s unlikely to pitch this weekend. Johnson is in the first year of a 2-year, $10MM deal with the Braves. It remains to be seen whether he’ll pitch again this season, but its certainly an unfortunate development for Johnson after losing the closer role to Arodys Vizcaino already this season. For Atlanta, the loss of Johnson thins out a bullpen that already has the fifth-highest ERA among all major league teams.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[2017 Rule 5 Roundup]]> 2017-09-14T16:14:45Z 2017-09-14T14:15:17Z With just a few weeks left in the season, we have a pretty clear idea of which Rule 5 draft picks will stick with their drafting teams. At this point, having already carried the player this far and with expanded rosters easing any pressures, teams are quite likely to stay the course. Here’s how this season’s Rule 5 group has shaken out thus far:


    It isn’t official yet, but these

    • Miguel Diaz, RHP, kept by Padres (via Twins) from Brewers: As part of the Pads’ unusually bold Rule 5 strategy, the club kept three youngsters this year. Diaz, 22, has managed only a 6.21 ERA with a 31:22 K/BB ratio over 37 2/3 innings. But he is showing a 96 mph heater and will remain with the organization, quite likely heading back to the minors next season to continue his development.
    • Luis Torrens, C, kept by Padres (via Reds) from Yankees: The youthful backstop — he’s just 21 — has struggled badly on offense in limited action. Through 133 plate appearances, he’s slashing just.169/.246/.212 — with just four extra-base hits, none of them home runs.
    • Allen Cordoba, INF, kept by Padres from Cardinals: And then there’s Cordoba, who’s also just 21 years of age. He faded after a hot start at the plate, but on the whole his output — a .209/.284/.304 batting line and four home runs over 215 plate appearances — is fairly impressive given that he had never before played above Rookie ball.
    • Dylan Covey, RHP, kept by White Sox from Athletics: Technically, owing to a DL stint, Covey has only compiled 83 of the minimum 90 days of active roster time required to be kept. But he’s going to make it there before the season is up, meaning that the Sox will be able to hold onto his rights and option him back to the minors in 2018. Covey, 26, has struggled to a 7.90 ERA with 4.9 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 over 54 2/3 innings, allowing 18 long balls in that span.
    • Stuart Turner, C, kept by Reds from Twins: Turner has seen minimal action, appearing in just 33 games and taking only 77 trips to the plate. And he’s hitting just .141/.184/.268 in that sporadic action. Clearly, though, the Reds have seen enough to believe he’s worth the trouble to hang onto.

    Still In Limbo

    • Kevin Gadea, RHP, selected by Rays from Mariners: Gadea has not pitched at any level this year owing to an elbow injury. He’ll remain with the Tampa Bay organization for the time being, but will still need to be carried on the 40-man roster over the offseason and then on the active roster for at least ninety days for his rights to permanently transfer.
    • Armando Rivero, RHP, selected by Braves from Cubs: It’s the exact same situation for Rivero as for Gadea, though he has had shoulder problems.
    • Josh Rutledge, INF, selected by Red Sox from Rockies: This was not your typical Rule 5 move. Boston snagged the veteran infielder after he signed a minors deal with Colorado. He ended up seeing minimal MLB time owing to injuries and his season ended recently with hip surgery. Rutledge is eligible for arbitration this fall and isn’t likely to be kept on the 40-man roster regardless.
    • Anthony Santander, OF, selected by Orioles from Indians: Since he only made it off of the DL late in the summer, Santander can accrue only 45 days on the active roster. If Baltimore wants to keep him, then, it’ll need to put him on the Opening Day roster next year. Santander has seen minimal playing time thus far, recording two hits in twelve trips to the plate, though he put up impressive numbers on his rehab assignment.

    Kept By Other Means

    • Daniel Stumpf, LHP, signed with Tigers after electing free agency upon return to Royals: This is another unusual situation. As a previous Rule 5 returnee, Stumpf was eligible to elect free agency upon being returned to his original organization. That’s just what happened when Detroit sent him back to Kansas City; the southpaw then turned around and re-signed a MLB deal with the Tigers. He has ended up turning in a rather productive year, posting 32 1/3 innings of 2.78 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 at the major-league level and showing even more impressive numbers during his time at Triple-A.

    Already Returned

    • Tyler Jones, RHP, returned to Yankees by Diamondbacks: Jones has thrown rather well at Triple-A since going back to the New York organization, posting 10.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings, though he has also allowed 4.38 earned per nine.
    • Caleb Smith, LHP, returned to Yankees by Brewers: Smith ended up earning a 40-man roster spot and spending some time in the majors after showing quite well as a starter in the minors. But he has been knocked around in his 18 2/3 MLB frames on the year.
    • Justin Haley, RHP, returned to Red Sox by Twins (via Angels): The 26-year-old didn’t stick with Minnesota, allowing a dozen earned runs in 18 innings before being returned to Boston. But he has thrown well since landing back at Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 2.66 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 44 innings over seven starts.
    • Tyler Webb, LHP, returned to Yankees by Pirates: Webb also gained a 40-man spot with the Yankees after showing some intriguing K/BB numbers at Triple-A. He was ultimately dealt to the Brewers.
    • Aneury Tavarez, OF, returned to Red Sox by Orioles: Tavarez played his way back up to Triple-A upon his return to his former organization, but has hit just .244/.292/.400 in 145 plate appearances there.
    • Glenn Sparkman, RHP, returned to Royals by Blue Jays: Sparkman was bombed in his one MLB appearance and has been limited to just 30 1/3 minor-league frames due to injury.
    • Hoby Milner, LHP, returned to Phillies by Indians: Another player who has risen to the majors with the organization that originally let them leave via the Rule 5, Milner has turned in 24 1/3 frames of 1.85 ERA ball in Philadelphia. Of course, he has also managed just 15 strikeouts against ten walks in that span.
    • Mike Hauschild, RHP, returned to Astros by Rangers: The 27-year-old righty struggled badly in his eight MLB frames. Upon returning to the rotation for Houston’s top affiliate, Hauschild has uncharacteristically struggled with free passes (5.3 per nine).
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Braves Notes: Front Office, Bae]]> 2017-09-12T07:00:08Z 2017-09-12T04:13:12Z
  • The Braves have made a pair of front office hires, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Adam Fisher will come over from the Mets to become Atlanta’s assistant GM, while Perry Minasian is moving from the Blue Jays to take a role as director of player personnel.
  • Meanwhile, the Braves appear to be moving in on a deal with young Korean shortstop Jihwan Bae. Sung Min Kim of River Avenue Blues tweeted the news (from Naver, in Korean) that Bae had evidently reached agreement with a MLB team shortly before the KBO draft, while David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Atlanta is indeed nearing a deal. The signing — which O’Brien pegs in the $300K range — will count against the Braves’ international pool allocation. Not much is known of the 18-year-old Bae, though O’Brien suggests he’s known for his speed and contact abilities at the plate.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Free Agents That Have Boosted Their Stock On One-Year Deals]]> 2017-09-12T15:20:11Z 2017-09-11T17:19:10Z With the offseason looming, it’s easy to focus on the top free agents this winter will have to offer. We at MLBTR reinforce that line of thinking with monthly Free Agent Power Rankings that profile the top names slated to hit the open market and ranking them in terms of earning power.

    Settling for a one-year contract isn’t an ideal route for most free agents, but that doesn’t mean that those (relative) bargain pickups can’t bring significant on-field impact to the teams with which they sign. While none of the players on this list received all that much fanfare when signing, they’ve all provided some notable benefit to the teams that made these commitments:

    • Kurt Suzuki, $1.5MM, Braves: Suzuki languished in free agency for several months as players like Jason Castro, Matt Wieters and Welington Castillo all generated more attention from teams and fans. However, it might be Suzuki that has provided the most bang for buck on last winter’s catching market. The 33-year-old has had a surprising career year in Atlanta, hitting .266/.344/.507 with 15 homers to date. Some have been quick to suggest that Atlanta’s new homer-happy stadium has benefited Suzuki, and while that may be true to an extent, he’s hit for more power on the road than at home. He’s put himself in position for a possible two-year deal this winter, but if he has to settle for one yet again, it should come at a higher rate.
    • Adam Lind, $1.5MM, Nationals: An awful 2016 season and an overcrowded market for corner bats created some questions about whether Lind would have to settle for a minor league contract late last winter. He ultimately secured a guaranteed deal, but it came with just a $1MM base and a $500K buyout of a mutual option. For that meager commitment, he’s given the Nats 267 plate appearances with a .297/.352/.490 slash to go along with 11 homers. Like Suzuki, that might not land him a starting role, but it could land him multiple years as a complementary bench piece.
    • Chris Iannetta, $1.5MM, Diamondbacks: Iannetta has not only rediscovered his power stroke in 2017 — he’s made it better than ever. The 34-year-old’s .249 ISO is a career best, and he’s slugged 14 homers. While that’s still four shy of his career-best with the 2008 Rockies, Iannetta’s 14 big flies this year have come in just 272 PAs, whereas he needed 407 to reach 18 back in ’08. He’s also bounced back from a down year in the framing department and been above average in that regard, per Baseball Prospectus.
    • Jhoulys Chacin and Clayton Richard, $1.75MM each, Padres: The Friars signed four starters for $3MM or less last winter — Jered Weaver and Trevor Cahill being the others — and have received a combined 345 innings out of this pair. Chacin’s run-prevention (4.06 ERA) and strikeout rate (7.44 K/9) have been better, while Richard has 13 more innings (179 total), superior control (2.6 BB/9) and superior ground-ball tendencies (59.1 percent). Neither is going to be mistaken for much more than a back-of-the-rotation stabilizer, but both have done enough to garner larger commitments on the upcoming open market.
    • Brian Duensing, $2MM, Cubs: I doubt I was alone in being surprised to see Duensing, 34, land a Major League deal last winter on the heels of a lackluster season in the Orioles organization. Duensing, though, has quietly been outstanding for the Cubs. In 54 2/3 innings, he’s logged a career-high 9.05 K/9 rate with 2.30 BB/9 and a 47 percent ground-ball rate en route to a 2.63 ERA. He’s held lefties in check reasonably well, but the first time in his career he’s also striking out right-handed batters at a lofty rate. In fact, the .211/.276/.317 that righties have posted against him is actually weaker than the .256/.300/.388 slash to which he’s limited left-handed bats.
    • Matt Belisle, $2.05MM, Twins: Belisle’s inclusion is arguable; he’s posted a pedestrian 4.36 ERA with 8.55 K/9, 3.69 BB/9 and a 42.2 percent ground-ball rate. Those numbers are largely skewed by a putrid month of May, however. Since June 3, Belisle has a 2.25 ERA with nearly a strikeout per inning and improved control and ground-ball tendencies — all while stepping into higher and higher leverage roles. He’s now serving as the Twins’ closer and has a 1.54 ERA with a 29-to-5 K/BB ratio since July 1. He’ll be 38 next season, so the earning power here isn’t sky-high, but he’s probably earned a raise, barring a late collapse.
    • Logan Morrison, $2.5MM, Rays: Few players have benefited more from one-year, “pillow” contracts in  recent memory than Morrison, who has parlayed his $2.5MM deal into a .248/.355/.529 batting line and a 36-homer season campaign to date. Morrison only just turned 30 years old, so he’ll have age on his side this winter as well. A three- or four-year deal seems plausible for Morrison even with the diminished recent market for corner bats.
    • Alex Avila, $2.5MM, Tigers: Avila hasn’t been as excellent with the Cubs as he was with the Tigers, but he’s still among the league leaders in hard contact and exit velocity — both of which have beautifully complemented his always-terrific walk rate (15.9 percent in 2016). With 14 homers under his belt and a batting line that grades out roughly 25 percent better than the league average, per context-neutral metrics like OPS+ (124) and wRC+ (127), Avila could vie for a multi-year deal and/or a starting job this offseason.
    • Joe Smith, $3MM, Blue Jays: Smith’s K/9 has nearly doubled, from 6.92 in 2016 to 11.86 in 2017, and he’s posted a dramatically improved 1.82 BB/9 this year as well. Smith has also served up just three homers in 49 1/3 innings of work, and his 3.10 ERA, while solid, is actually representative of some poor fortune in the estimation of fielding-independent metrics (1.97 FIP, 2.35 xFIP, 2.34 SIERA). He’ll be 34 next year but should top that $3MM mark and could net the second multi-year free-agent deal of his career.
    • Andrew Cashner, $10MM, Rangers: MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently took a more in-depth look at Cashner, noting that his strong 3.19 ERA isn’t backed up by his K/BB numbers. Cashner’s complete lack of missed bats — he has the lowest swinging-strike rate and second-lowest K/9 rate of qualified MLB starters — is going to limit his earning power. But, he’s undeniably been better than he was in 2016, his velocity is comparable to last season and he’s limited hard contact quite well. A multi-year deal is certainly a possibility this offseason.
    • Carlos Gomez, $11.5MM, Rangers: Gomez’s production hasn’t reached the star levels it did in 2013-14, but he’s been a better performer at the plate this season. A spike in his OBP (from .298 to .337) is due largely to a massive increase in the number of pitches by which he’s been hit, which is less encouraging than if he’d upped his walk rate considerably. However, Gomez has also shown quite a bit more power in 2017 than he had in recent seasons (.208 ISO in ’17 vs. .153 in ’15-16 combined), and Defensive Runs Saved feels he’s improved in center field as well. Gomez won’t see the massive payday he looked to be on pace for after 2014, but he’s still young enough to notch a multi-year deal this winter.

    Notable exceptions: Neither Welington Castillo nor Greg Holland is included on this list, though both have provided good value to their new teams (Castillo in particular). While their contracts are often referred to as one-year deals with a player option, that type of contract is no more a one-year deal than Jason Heyward’s eight-year, $184MM deal with a third-year opt-out is a three-year deal. Both players were guaranteed the possibility to be under contract for two years, and those agreements are considered two-year deals for the purposes of this list.

    Jerry Blevins has also given the Mets terrific value on his one-year, $6.5MM deal, but the club option attached to that deal is a veritable lock to be exercised, so he’s unlikely to hit the free-agent market again following the season.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Braves Outright Enrique Burgos To Triple-A]]> 2017-09-11T02:36:45Z 2017-09-11T02:36:09Z
  • The Braves outrighted right-hander Enrique Burgos to Triple-A earlier this week, the team announced.  Burgos was designated for assignment on August 30.  The hard-throwing Burgos has yet to appear in a big league game this season after totaling 68 1/3 innings out of the Diamondbacks bullpen in 2015-16, as Burgos has continued to be plagued by control problems (a 6.6 BB/9 over 35 1/3 minor league innings this season).
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Braves Notes: Acuna, Ruiz]]> 2017-09-10T20:26:38Z 2017-09-10T20:26:38Z
  • Braves youngster Ronald Acuna blossomed into one of the game’s best prospects this season, and Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser (subscription required) outlines how Atlanta was able to sign the talented and surprisingly unheralded outfielder in 2014 for a mere $100K bonus.  Interestingly, Acuna said that he was expecting to sign with the Royals before the Braves upped their offer to that $100K, and thus Acuna simply went with the highest bidder.
  • Rio Ruiz is hitting well in September and hoping to work himself into the third base picture for the Braves next season, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.  The rookie still has just a .604 OPS over 119 total plate appearances this year, largely due to a nasty slump that led to his demotion earlier in the season, though Ruiz feels he has improved his work both at the plate and especially in the field.  Third base stands out as a clear area of need for the Braves in 2018, though it remains to be seen if the team will make a veteran acquisition or if they’ll stick to the rebuilding plan and continue giving playing time to Ruiz, Johan Camargo or other internal options.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Ronald Acuna Had All-Time Great Season]]> 2017-09-10T01:42:43Z 2017-09-10T01:42:43Z Braves outfield prospect Ronald Acuna earned Minor League Player of the Year honors from Baseball America on Friday, before which BA’s Matt Eddy noted that the 19-year-old had one of the finest offensive seasons ever put together by a teenager. Acuna, who climbed from High-A to Double-A to Triple-A in 2017, combined for a .325/.374/.522 batting line and a 155 OPS+ in 612 plate appearances. Only seven other teenage players – all household names in Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez (twice), Jason Heyward, Gregg Jefferies, Justin Upton and Mike Trout – bettered Acuna’s OPS+ in an individual season, Eddy notes. Based on Acuna’s Double-A and Triple-A production, Eddy writes that he stacks up closely with where A-Rod, Sheffield, Jones, Jefferies, Heyward, Trout, Melvin Upton, Justin Upton, Adrian Beltre and Delmon Young were at similar stages of their minor league careers. For the most part, that’s special company.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Braves Promote Luiz Gohara]]> 2017-09-05T16:27:55Z 2017-09-05T16:27:55Z The Braves have selected the contract of young lefty Luiz Gohara and scheduled him for his MLB debut tonight, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported. Atlanta will push back Julio Teheran, who had been scheduled to start.

    Gohara, who only recently turned 21, came to the Atlanta organization in an offseason swap that also netted the Braves interesting relief prospect Thomas Burrows. The Mariners originally signed Gohara out of his native Brazil in time for him to join the organization briefly in 2013; due to a rules quirk, he was not eligible for the Rule 5 draft last year but would have been this coming winter.

    With the Braves set to add Gohara to the 40-man roster anyway, then, the club decided to give him a taste of the majors before ending his whirlwind campaign. He has already thrown far more innings (123 2/3) than ever before, spread across three levels of the minors.

    Gohara opened the season at High-A, marking his first experience there. But it wasn’t long before he moved up to Double-A, where he threw well enough to merit another bump to the highest level of the minors. All told, Gohara carries a 2.62 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 on the year.

    As he has swiftly ascended the ladder, Gohara has climbed prospect ranking charts.’s Keith Law (#39), Baseball America (#77), and (#91) have all moved him into their rankings of the game’s top prospects. While conditioning and durability remain long-term concerns for the talented southpaw, he has certainly shown this year that he is capable of converting his big-time raw stuff into productivity over the course of a full season.

    It’s not yet known whether Gohara will have a shot at earning a rotation spot out of camp next year, but he could force the club’s hand with a big showing to end the season. For now, Atlanta will be content watching another interesting young arm rise to the majors. The team has already called up Sean Newcomb, Max Fried, and Lucas Sims for their first MLB action this year.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Braves Likely To Promote Gohara, Not Acuna]]> 2017-09-04T03:34:13Z 2017-09-04T03:34:13Z
  • The Braves will likely call up left-hander Luiz Gohara as soon as Tuesday, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.  The hard-throwing Gohara has posted strong numbers in each of the last two seasons, and is ranked by as the eighth-best prospect in Atlanta’s system.  Though GM John Coppolella didn’t rule out the idea of also promoting top prospect Ronald Acuna sometime in September, O’Brien feels the 19-year-old outfielder is likelier to make his MLB debut (and be placed on the 40-man roster) next spring, when Acuna will be competing for a regular job.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Braves To Check Freddie Freeman's Wrist For Structural Damage]]> 2017-09-03T19:09:16Z 2017-09-03T19:06:56Z
  • The Braves will check first baseman Freddie Freeman’s left wrist for structural damage on Monday, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets“There’s no pain.  I just have no strength,” said Freeman, who fractured his wrist May 18 and didn’t return until July 4.  While the superstar has hit an outstanding .294/.375/.520 since coming back, that output pales in comparison to Freeman’s otherworldly .341/.461/.748 pre-injury line.  Freeman told Mark Bowman of and other reporters Saturday that he has been swinging a “wet newspaper,” has “nothing left,” and that his “bat speed is absolutely gone.” The left-handed slugger also revealed that facing hard-throwing southpaws has recently presented a challenge from a mental standpoint because of his wrist issue. Even though he’s clearly less than 100 percent and the Braves aren’t in contention, Freeman insists he’s not going to shut it down early this year, per O’Brien.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Braves Select Contract Of Tony Sanchez, Retract Announcement Of Micah Johnson DFA]]> 2017-09-01T17:21:12Z 2017-09-01T17:20:58Z 12:20pm: Although the Braves announced in a morning press release that Johnson had been designated for assignment, the team now tells reporters that Johnson has not been designated and that there was some internal miscommunication (Twitter link via David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). Atlanta considered designating Johnson but ultimately elected to keep him on the roster due to the fact that they already had an open 40-man spot for Sanchez.

    10:11am: The Braves announced that they have designated infielder Micah Johnson for assignment as part of a series of roster moves. Johnson’s 40-man roster spot will go to catcher Tony Sanchez, who was acquired yesterday in the trade that sent Brandon Phillips to the Angels.

    The Braves have also activated lefty Ian Krol and righty Luke Jackson from the 10-day DL, while recalling left-handers Max Fried and Rex Brothers and third baseman Rio Ruiz from Triple-A Gwinnett.

    Johnson, 26, was once one of the White Sox’ best-regarded prospects, but his stock has fallen in recent years. He was shipped from Chicago to Los Angeles as part of the three-time Todd Frazier trade in the 2015-16 offseason, and the Dodgers flipped him to the Braves for cash this past winter. Injuries limited his playing time this season, but Johnson batted .301/.391/.390 across three levels (mostly Triple-A — 36 games) in a total of 157 plate appearances. He’s a career .282/.341/.392 hitter in Triple-A bu has struggled in his brief exposure to the Majors.

    Sanchez, meanwhile, is a known name due to his status as the former No. 4 overall pick in the draft (Pirates, 2009). He hasn’t appeared in the Majors since 2015, though, and has never enjoyed much success at the game’s top level. In parts of three seasons, the now-29-year-old Sanchez has totaled 155 plate appearances and batted .259/.303/.378. He’s hit for a respectable .272 average and gotten on base at a solid .355 clip through 70 Triple-A contests this season, though he’s scarcely hit for power (.374 slugging, .102 ISO, four homers in 284 PAs).

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Angels Acquire Brandon Phillips]]> 2017-09-01T04:01:12Z 2017-09-01T03:59:26Z 10:59pm: The Braves have now formally announced the trade.

    10:17pm: Braves GM John Coppolella has acknowledged the deal to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution (Twitter links). While there’s been no formal press release announcing the swap, Coppolella tells O’Brien that the Angels were the ones who approached the Braves on the deal. Atlanta felt it was a chance to reward Phillips by allowing him to receive the $500K trade assign bonus in his contract and also get a chance to play in the postseason.

    10:08pm: Phillips’ contract calls for a $500K assignment bonus in the event that he is traded, and the Angels will be responsible for paying that sum, Bowman tweets.

    9:55pm: The Angels have swung a deal to acquire infielder Brandon Phillips from the Braves, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Reports earlier today indicated the sides were close to a swap, with the only hang-up being whether Phillips would accept the deal. (He could block a trade to the Halos and eleven other teams by the terms of his contract.) According to’s Mark Bowman, the Angels are sending former big league catcher Tony Sanchez to the Braves in return (Twitter link).

    Brandon Phillips | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY SportsPhillips recently shifted from second base to third base in Atlanta to accommodate the promotion of presumptive second baseman of the future Ozzie Albies, but he figures to slide back to his natural position of second base in Anaheim. While he’s no longer the offensive force that he once was, Phillips and his .291/.329/.423 slash line will be a marked upgrade for an Angel club that has seen its second baseman post a collectively abysmal .196/.271/.318 batting line in 2017.

    While Phillips represents an immediate upgrade to the Angels’ Wild Card chances in the American League, he’s as pure a rental as they come; the three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glover will hit free agency following the 2017 season. However, by acquiring Phillips on Aug. 31, the Halos have ensured that he’ll be eligible for their postseason roster in the event that they do ultimately secure a Wild Card berth. At present, they’re 1.5 games behind the Twins for the second slot in the American League and 2.5 games back of the Yankees for the top Wild Card slot.

    That Sanchez, a former top pick who has now been relegated to journeyman status, is the return for Phillips speaks to the fact that the veteran infielder did not carry significant trade value. The Reds shipped Phillips to Atlanta this offseason and picked up all but $1MM of his remaining salary, and the Braves will presumably shed that commitment while giving the 36-year-old Phillips a chance to return to postseason play — an opportunity he wouldn’t have been afforded in Atlanta this season.

    Sanchez has posted a .272/.355/.374 slash in Triple-A this season, and while he could conceivably be a September call-up, it seems unlikely that the Braves would carry him on the 40-man roster all winter. In all likelihood, his time with the organization will be limited.

    For the Braves, shedding Phillips provides a relatively nominal amount of cost-savings but also opens regular at-bats for younger options to prove themselves capable pieces of the future in the season’s final month. Albies was already penciled in at second base, while Dansby Swanson has demonstrated immense improvements at shortstop upon his recent recall from Triple-A. Johan Camargo, another young infielder who has taken a step forward with a successful, albeit BABIP-driven rookie campaign, could be in line for at-bats at the hot corner down the stretch.

    Atlanta could also use the now-vacated at-bats to take a second look at Rio Ruiz — a former fourth-round pick of the Astros that signed a huge bonus out of the draft and came to the Braves alongside Mike Foltynewicz as part of the Evan Gattis trade. While Ruiz underwhelmed in his first taste of big league action, he only turned 23 years old in late May and has shown a bit of pop in Triple-A this year.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.