What Free Agents Should Interest the Braves

I guess the article should be more aptly titled, "what free agents interest me." But of course I am coming from a Braves-centric point of view, so this is at least half-accurate. I'm mostly listing free agents from other teams that I think the Braves should sign.

I still think it's a good idea to give John Smoltz and Tom Glavine another year (and I think they will be healthy enough to give it a shot in spring training). I also think we should try and resign Jorge Julio and Greg Norton, but to me, those guys are just there to maintain the status quo. Here are the top-10 free agents that the Braves should go after this winter:

1. A.J. Burnett, RHP - Yes, he has an injury history, but he can also be a dominant starter. If the Braves think he can be consistently dominant, then they may throw some big bucks at the guy. At age 31, he should be entering his prime. Still, this is a high risk, high reward signing, but it's time to roll the dice.

2. Ken Griffey Jr., OF - He'll be 39 next year, and this may seem like more of a sentimental signing than anything else, but don't you get that feeling that Ken Griffey Jr. has something left to prove. Ever since he got injured in his second year in Cincinnati, he hasn't been the same guy he was for all those years in Seattle. What we need is a two year power guy in the outfield to bridge the gap to Heyward, and would there be a better way to draw a crowd to the Ted next year than a legend like Griff.

3. Ryan Dempster, RHP - Like Burnett, he's 31 and primed for some career years. After bouncing around between the bullpen and the rotation, he seems to have found his calling as a starter. He can walk some people, but he keeps the hits down. He's a guy who will benefit in Atlanta from a solid defense behind him.

4. Junichi Tazawa, RHP - This is a project guy for at least a year or two, but he could be a big part of the next wave. We should use this year's glut of extra cash to get some of the best international talent, and Tazawa's it.

5. Randy Johnson, LHP - Yep, I said it... Randy Johnson. At least we know he can throw a perfect game at Turner Field. If we need a guy who can fill out our rotation as a second free agent starter and bridge the one or two years until we get to the Hanson's and Rohrbough's of our minor league system, then Johnson might have some good gas left. Besides, he had a 2.41 ERA after tha All-Star break last year -- that's the old Randy.

6. Jeremy Affeldt, LHP - He's a lefty relief pitcher who is more than just a LOOGY -- the kind of reliever that Bobby Cox loves, who can face more than one hitter. Will Ohman is a solid pitcher, but Affeldt is a step above that. With a few extra bucks in our pocket, perhaps this is the year we can spend big on a lefty setup guy for the next several years.

7. Bobby Abreu, OF - He's a speed and power guy and more of a three-hole hitter, but there's always a chance he could find his power stroke and fill out the four-hole in his later years. He's sort of a second or third option, but worth a look.

8. Mike Hampton, LHP - The only reason not to sign him is to keep Mac from pulling a muscle of his own making videos of Hampton pulling a muscle. Still, an incentive laden contract could produce a solid back end of the rotation guy with xtra upside.

9. Derek Lowe, RHP - Be wary of this guy. He's older and the friendly pitching confines of Dodger Stadium have been very friendly to Lowe. His road ERA during his stint as a Dodger is almost a run worse than his ERA at home. If we sign him, then we should know he's not the under-3.00 ERA guy he's been the last four years.

10. Randy Wolf, LHP - Do we need the Wolf-pack in Atlanta? He's not the first, second, or even the fifth option, but if all else fails he's a lefty and has been an innings-eater in the past. Another good guy to sign as a second free agent pitcher signing.

That's my list, it's just one opinion. The Braves need pitching and power hitting and I think at least half of that can come from the free agent market. Tomorrow I'll outline what moves I think the Braves should make in both the free agent market and the trade market -- it's the "if I were GM" segment of the show.

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