The Atlanta Braves have been quiet this off-season, relatively speaking. Quiet meaning they haven’t signed any big-name players to any long-term deals. However, the Braves have signed, and traded for some pretty big-name prospects, and some veteran players. Let’s take a look at the Braves’ offseason.
1. Shelby Miller, Tyrell Jenkins (traded away Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden)
2. Ricardo Sanchez (traded away Kyle Kubitza and Nate Hyatt)
3. Jace Peterson, Dustin Peterson, Max Fried, and Mallex Smith (traded away Justin Upton and Aaron Northcraft)
4. Manny Banuelos (traded away Chasen Shreve and David Carpenter)
5. Aaron Kurcz (traded away Anthony Varvaro)
6. Arodys Vizcaino (traded away Tommy La Stella)
Now let’s look at who they signed,
So, John Hart has kept himself busy this off-season. But what is Atlanta doing? Well, for starters, this is a team that ranked 29th in offense last season, and near the bottom in most offensive categories. Hart needed to make some big changes. The biggest changes he made were trading away Upton and Heyward, as both were going to demand gigantic contracts after this season, and although very productive, the chances of both players staying was very slim. Shelby Miller is a guy that can add to an already young and top-tier rotation. Jace Peterson had 6 hits in 53 at-bats with the Padres last season, and I wouldn’t imagine he’s going to see much time, however he’s the only one out of the three players that came from San Diego for Justin Upton that actually has Major League experience. Dustin Peterson and Mallex Smith were the other two from the Upton trade. Dustin Peterson probably has the next most potential, and then Mallex Smith.
Out of the prospects that didn’t have MLB experience, Ricardo Sanchez is probably the most intriguing. Sanchez was signed by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at just 16 years old, and he’s only 17 now. He is supposed to be the next big thing, as he has a fastball that ranges from 87-90 mph, a curveball, and a change-up. He was the #2 player in the Angels system. Atlanta took a risk because in order to get Sanchez, having to trade Kyle Kubitza, who some have looked at as the next big third baseman.
On the other hand, headlining the All-Star studded free agent pickups is A.J Pierzynski…just kidding, but Pierzynski could come in handy as a backup catcher to Christian Bethancourt, who is most likely going to be the everyday catcher. Pierzynski, who recently came out saying “If you need me to fight the guy, I’ll fight the guy. I’ll do whatever it takes because I want to win the game.” They’ll probably need A.J to play defense and get on base, the Braves are weird that way. At any rate, it’s a good signing to help with a young catcher. Signing Jason Grilli, Jim Johnson, Michael Kohn and Josh Outman was to help improve what was a very shaky bullpen last season. Johnson was once a 50 save guy, but he’s not going to need to be a closer in Atlanta, unless the Braves find a reason to trade Kimbrel.
Nick Markakis replacing Jason Heyward is not really comparable. Jason Heyward is the best defensive outfielder in the game, arguably. Heyward also was over a 5 win player according to Fangraphs, while Markakis was a 2.5 win player last season.
Re-sharing Heyward vs Markakis Defensive Stats, Last 3 Seasons as RF Runs Saved Heyward 67 Markakis -13 UZR Heyward 59.9 Markakis -9.1
— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) December 4, 2014
Zoilo Almonte may stay the entire year in the minor leagues, but judging how the outfield of BJ Upton, Evan Gattis and Nick Markakis is shaping up, they’ll need somebody to come off the bench and Zoilo is perfect for that. The jury is still out on his bat though, as we’ve seen some good, but a lot of bad at the plate.
So what are the Atlanta Braves doing? Re-tooling.
This isn’t a bad team, they’ve kept the pieces they wanted to build around, they just had to shore up some very weak spots, but with the Nationals, and Mets getting better also, so the NL East could get very interesting at season’s end.