Yesterday, the Braves made some serious waves when Buster Olney reported that Hector Olivera would be transitioning from third base to the outfield. As the writer in the link above notes, the Braves must've had some serious concerns about Olivera's defensive abilitiesif they made the decision to move him to the outfield -- especially when you consider that there are multiple Braves coaches who are currently with Olivera in the winter leagues and saw what he was doing there. So, what does this mean for the Braves and their offseason strategy going forward? The crew over at Fox Sports South tried to figure it out. Of course Rio Ruiz is the long-term prospect, but we may have to get ready to see Adonis Garcia manning the hot corner for Atlanta in 2016.
Even before the Olivera move, there was a logjam at the corner outfield spots, and as highly rated prospect Mallex Smith pushes for time the transition could take away the team's flexibility in looking at the likes of Markakis or Maybin in left field. (On the other hand, this could give Smith more time to develop at Triple-A Gwinnett or make Maybin a viable offseason trade piece.)
Then there's the question of third base, which, barring an offseason trade or signing, could fall to Adonis Garcia. Olivera's fellow 30-something rookie led the team with 345 1/3 innings played at third base last season, posting a team-worst minus-3 defensive runs saved. He did, however, make up for it at the plate. Garcia flashed surprising power — he was one of four MLB players to hit double-digit homers in fewer than 200 plate appearances; this coming after hitting 21 shots total in nearly 1,200 plate appearances in the minors — and should have a legitimate chance to secure more playing time in 2016.
There was also the possibility that Garcia was the one that could move to the outfield. Maybe his and Olivera's roles have simply flipped.
All this talk of Olivera's move to the outfield has once again brought up the idea that the goal of this current Braves rebuild is for the team to be competitive by the time they make their move to SunTrust Park in Cobb County. However, one of the biggest questions concerning that move is whether or not Fredi Gonzalez will actually be there to manage the team in Cobb County. Braves beat writer Mark Bowman fielded plenty of questions in his latest mailbag column, but this answer was probably the most intriguing, as he identified a potential replacement for Fredi, should things go sour for the Braves' current manager.
If the Braves were to reach a point where they were looking for a different manager, Mark DeRosa will likely be one of the top candidates. DeRosa does not possess any coaching experience. But he has remained close to the game with his MLB Network duties, and his communications skills have been lauded dating back to his earliest days as a utility man in Atlanta.
Another imperative question that surrounds the Braves and their rebuilding process is the question of when we'll see these heralded prospects that we've heard so much about. Fox Sports South's Tyler Duke identified a few prospects who could potentially be seeing Major League action in 2016. Guys like Lucas Sims, Mallex Smith, and Tyrell Jenkins are up there, and former first round pick Jason Hursh also makes an appearance on this list.
In weird financial news (mainly because I'm not a financial guru), Liberty Media has announced that the Braves managed to increase their income despite seeing a sharp drop in revenue. What was the reason for the increase in income? They didn't have to pay the players as much and didn't have to spend as much on game operations. They also may have received more financial help than others from the Department of Defense, but I'm having a good morning so I don't want to get my dander up about that particular story.
This is going to be a very interesting offseason for not only our Braves, but for baseball as a whole. There are some intriguing free agents on the market right now, and Grant Brisbee has decided to try to figure out who the top 40 are. He did this last year, and it's just as fun and interesting of a read now as it was then.
Royals outfielder Alex Gordon was ranked #4 on the list above, and he made his free agency official by opting out of his current deal with the Royals. Gordon is one of the best defensive outfielders in the game right now, and the crew over at Royals Review considers him to be one of the best Royals ever. Needless to say, he'll probably make his new team pretty happy if he can manage to avoid injury.