The Atlanta Braves will have over $17 million allotted to the MLB Draft and the international bonus pool this summer according to a report by Baseball America. The Braves will have $12,385,200 allotted for the draft and $4,766,000 for International signings. Atlanta is however, expected to blow past that amount in the international market. Only the Cincinnati Reds ($19,087,100) and Phillies ($19,016,000) have more to spend than the Braves.
MLB.com's Mark Bowman points out in this week's mailbag that the healthy returns of Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis will provide a boost for the Braves' lineup, the team team may also benefit from platoon situations at several other positions.
With Tyler Flowers present, A.J. Pierzynski can get sufficient rest as he attempts to match last year's impressive plate consistency. Kelly Johnson's presence provides insurance in case Adonis Garcia struggles with the glove or sees his unexpected power dissipate.
Given that Ender Inciarte hit a .227/.253/.277 slash line against lefties last year,Emilio Bonifacio might get an occasional start against a tough southpaw. But I think the greatest beneficiary of these platoons might be Jace Peterson, who will share second base with Gordon Beckham. Peterson had a .251/.332/.350 slash line against right-handers and .190/.234/.276 against lefties.
There figures to be a significant competition for bullpen spots with the Braves during spring training that includes a healthy mix of young pitchers, veterans and some returning from injury. MLB.com's Mark Bowman writes that Jason Grilli's return from a ruptured Achilles at age 39 will have a ripple down effect on the rest of the bullpen.
Talking Chop's interview series continues this week with RHP Mike Soroka. It is a great read that talks about Soroka playing high school baseball in Canada and takes us through the draft process as well as his first taste of minor league competition. If you haven't checked it out, be sure and do so.
Talking Chop's Eric Cole and Garrett Spain offer their predictions on how each of the Top 10 Braves prospects might fair in the 2016 season.
The Orioles have been the most active team in the chase for free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler and multiple reports suggest that they are closing in on a deal that would pay him between $12-13 million per season.
Evan Gattis had surgery to repair a sports hernia last week and is expected to be out of action for 4-6 weeks putting his status for opening day in jeopardy.