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Atlanta Braves news and links: What does the future hold for Shae Simmons?

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Shae Simmons will return sometime during the 2016 season. We know he'll be in the bullpen, but exactly what role will he fill as he returns?

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images


Are the Braves in for a quiet free agent period?

According to the national baseball media, the Braves probably aren't going to make any major noise on the free agent market during the Hot Stove season. We've already heard from Peter Gammons that the Braves wouldn't be pursuing catcher Matt Wieters, and most national publications didn't have the Braves making any major moves. In fact, only MLB Trade Rumors had the Braves making a "top" acquisition, and that was sigining reliever Tyler Clippard. If that's the case, then we may have to prepare for the Braves to sit on their money or just try to use other avenues to continue the rebuilding process.

However, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs is suggesting that the Braves should do the opposite and try to make a splash this winter:

So, a Major League team on the upswing that expects to contend in a couple of years might look at the next free agent crop and decide that they’re better off getting their money in now, buying some future wins before they’re faced with a market in which wins are harder to buy with their future revenues. For instance, the Atlanta Braves have been pretty clearly building towards the future, pointing to the 2017 opening of their new ballpark as the next time they expect to seriously compete for the NL East title, but it may very well be in their best interests to try and identify some free agents in this market that they think will still be productive in a few years, rather than holding off another 12 months to try and make a big splash right before the stadium opens.

Shae Simmons will strengthen the bullpen upon his return

The bullpen should probably improve organically due to the return of reliever Shae Simmons. Although the reliever will likely return around May-ish, as long as Simmons is in good health then he should be in contention for the closer spot with Arodys Vizcaino and (hopefully) Jason Grilli. Whether he gets the spot or not, he should definitely be a solid contributor to the bullpen should he build on the promise that he showed before his UCL injury.

Can Folty be fixed?

Mike Foltynewicz had a bit of a rough campaign during his first extended stint in the big leagues. His ERA and FIP were pretty high (5.71 and 5.05, respectively), and he ended it on a low note with the extremely unfortunate blood clot that he suffered. With that being said, he's still got a promising future ahead of him should he be able to fix the issues that he encountered in 2015. The question now is whether or not those issues can be fixed.

Foltynewicz may well end up in the bullpen but he could also become a nice two or three starter if giving the right kind of help to correct his issues. Maybe it’s his release point, arm angle or grip but whatever the cause, the slider isn’t working right now so he needs to shelve that and work on the change and getting the his curve and sinker down.

Maybe a split would be more effective for him, he has big hands and enough of a downward plane to make it work pretty well.  Whatever they decide to do, it would be in the Braves best interests to go back to basics and help him regain his confidence. Right now he’s a one and one half pitch pitcher and that’s not good enough.

Olivera begins outfield duties in Winter League action

Hector Olivera's outfield adventure began this past week, as he played in the outfield for Criollos de Caguas this past week. He had a solid week at the plate, but was replaced via defensive substitute in all of his appearances. That's to be expected for someone who's basically learning how to play the position at a high level, and we'll probably see that happen during his early days of playing infield at the Major League level. Meanwhile, there were plenty of minor leaguers who decided to opt for free agency this past week, including Jake Brigham, who spent a couple cups of coffee in the bigs this past season.


Twins win bidding to negotiate with Korean star

Over the weekend, news came out that a mystery team had won the bidding for Nexen Heroes star first baseman Byung-Ho Park. Today, the mystery team was revealed and it turns out that the team who put in the $12.85 MM bid for the rights to negotiate was the Minnesota Twins. The Twins now have 30 days to work out a deal with the 29-year old first baseman, who slugged 53 dingers in the Korean league last season.

Can the Cardinals afford to keep Jason Heyward?

Despite the fact that Jason Heyward is rightfully testing the free agent waters this offseason, there's still a possibility that the former Braves right fielder could stay with the Cardinals. There have been rumors that Heyward could command a contract that's at least six years long and maybe be worth $200 MM. The crew over at Viva El Birdos did a bit of number crunching, and they believe that the Cardinals could have the financial resources to keep Heyward in St. Louis.