Time and time again, the Braves have made it known that they've got big hopes for Hector Olivera. If he ends up being as good as the organization figures he could be, then he'll be both a bargain and a boon to the Braves' plans of being a serious competitor for the 2017 season and beyond. It's a bit of a gamble, but it's clearly a gamble that the Braves are comfortable with.
"As we looked at the [upcoming] free-agent market, there weren't any real free-agent bats out there," Coppolella said. "I think you're going to see [Olivera] get better and better each year. His first year [in the United States] was tough for him. There were some things on the field and off the field."
Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes are among the top offensive players who will potentially be free agents this offseason. But each will come at a price that extends beyond the comfort zone of the Braves, who have multiple needs to address with the $25-30 million available. Thus, it was determined to take a chance on Olivera, who will draw an average annual salary of $6.4 million over the next five seasons.
"We had multiple, multiple looks at [Olivera]," Hart said. "Knowing the market, if this guy hits like he has before and is the guy that our guys said he is, then we ended up making a nice deal. We ended up getting a nice five- or six-hole hitter that we're going to control affordably, and we can add other pieces. That's the risk you take, because there is a level of unknown with the Cuban players that are out there."
Another player who the Braves have high hopes for is infield prospect Ozhaino Albies. Ozzie had a solid season down on the farm, and figures to keep on moving up through the ranks. You shouldn't expect to see the kid wearing "Atlanta" across his chest in 2016, but you should definitely keep an eye on him because he'll definitely play an important part of the Braves' rebuilding effort going forward.
Entering the 2015 season, Keith Law ranked Ozhaino Albies as the Atlanta Braves’ third best prospect (#66 0verall), behind Jose Peraza (#24) and Mike Foltynewicz (#47). Law believes that Albies has a high floor despite being only 18 years old. Due to Albies’ strong 2014 campaign, the Braves decided to start him out at Single-A Rome in 2015.
At the Single-A level, Ozhaino Albies was three and half years younger than the competition, but that did not stop him from putting up solid numbers. In 98 games with the Rome Braves, Albies hit a solid .310, with a .368 OBP. For the first time in his career, Albies struck out more times than he walked; however, 36 walks against 56 strikeouts is still superb. Also, he registered 29 steals in 2015, flashing his speed.
If you want to see the gory details, go ahead and click the link above. If you want the short and sweet version, then here it is: Other than Jason Grilli pre-injury and Arodys Vizcaino being the bright spots, this was a bad bullpen. It makes sense that this is the unit that the Braves' front office is focusing on fixing this offseason.
During the regular season, Braves legend Chipper Jones made waves on Twitter when he announced that he was pulling for the Mets to win the division. Fast forward to October, and Chipper is still driving the Braves-fans-for-the-Mets bandwagon. It's gotten to the point where Jones actually chanted "Let's Go Mets" on a recent radio appearance. We are clearly living in the end of times.
Speaking of the Mets, they officially punched their ticket to the 2015 National League Championship Series after they beat the Dodgers in LA 3-2. Nearly all of the offensive damage from the Mets was done by Daniel Murphy. He drove in New York's first run, scored their second run, and hit the homer that ended up being the game-winning run for the Mets. So, we now live in a world where the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs are playing for the right to advance to the World Series. What a time to be alive.
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