The Braves pulled off a somewhat surprising pair of moves early this postseason by nabbing starters Drew Smyly and Charlie Morton on one-year deals. That the deals were surprising, however, was not surprising. The Braves keep their internal conversations about players internal, according to the Athletic’s David O’Brien, who writes, “Atlanta is as leak-free as any organization in sports regarding rumors of potential trades and free-agent signings, and if the player and his agent are equally private, which is how the Braves like it and something that agents are aware of, there could and often are discussions and deals completed before anything is leaked.”
Hence, the dearth of news about re-signing, say, Mark Melancon, O’Brien notes, doesn’t equate to a lack of movement or interest. Simply, if the Braves do bring Melancon back, the public isn’t likely to hear about it until the deal is done.
In the meantime, Braves’ fans can content themselves with the additions they’ve already made this winter. After all, while neither the Smyly nor Morton contracts were big deals financially, they are big deals in terms of potential impact. The Morton acquisition bumped Fangraphs’ valuation of Atlanta’s rotation from the 16th-ranked rotation in the game to 11th, writes Jay Jaffe. Morton brings 1.5 more projected WAR than the Braves’ in-house alternative, per Steamer.
But for Morton, the decision to sign on the dotted line had as much to do with the personalities involved as it did the strength of the rotation. Familiarity with catching coach Sal Fasano, pitching coach Rick Kranitz, and catcher Travis d’Arnaud helped Morton commit to the switch from Tampa to Atlanta, according to a piece by O’Brien from just before Thanksgiving.
The already-established clubhouse culture in Atlanta also made the Braves an intriguing destination. Chemistry may not be the metric du jour for statisticians, but it was a consideration for Morton. Per O’Brien, Morton said, “Most good teams, they can outplay their talent level just by being close and having good attitudes and having fun. From everything that I know and what I’ve seen, the Braves have both. It looks like they’re really loose, fun-loving, but they’re also really talented. So I’m looking forward to being part of a group where you’re looking forward to getting to the park every day and you just want to hang out, being excited to play together.”