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Alex Anthopoulos discusses Ronald Acuna’s debut, trade rumors, Mike Soroka and more

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Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos announces his trade with the Detroit Tigers for starting pitcher David Price Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Alex Anthopoulos has been a busy man since taking over the Braves two months ago. Never mind the whole running-a-baseball-team thing, but he’s been regularly commuting between Atlanta and Los Angeles to be with his family on weekends while working in Atlanta during the week.

On Sunday, Anthopoulos went on MLB Network Radio and spoke for 15 minutes on a wide range of topics. He’s clearly a very bright guy and is well-spoken. Here are the highlights:

On Ronald Acuna’s debut and the outfield:

  • Anthopoulos wouldn’t rule anything out but makes it sound like Acuna will open the year in the minors for more seasoning. Loves his talent but noted he only has a few months of experience at the higher levels of the minors.
  • The Braves continue to look at free agents and trades to bring in another outfielder. Everyone from starters to back field depth (as in 5th outfielders and minor leaguers) could be in play.

On the Christian Yelich/JT Realmuto trade rumors:

  • He confirmed that they’ve asked about both Marlins players. Said they’ve reached out to many teams about many players who fit what they’re trying to do, including names that haven’t been mentioned to the public via media reports.
  • Said it’s challenging to come into a new organization and immediately get a grasp of all the prospects especially without seeing them with his own eyes. Hard to know which evaluations to trust.
  • They won’t include Acuna in any kind of deal, whether it be with Miami or elsewhere. Other teams have asked, but the answer is no.
  • He’s reluctant to trade many of the young guys because he just doesn’t know what they have. Doesn’t imagine getting there by the end of the offseason, either. Just my opinion here, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for a blockbuster over the next month.

On player development in 2018:

  • “2018 is a really important year for us because we have a lot of young players that can go either way. They can emerge and get to the next step, they can stay in the area they’re in or they can stall and go backwards. Part of it is trying to find out exactly what we have. With that said, there’s a ton of talent on this team as we all know. We do believe in it, and there’s a very real chance a lot of these guys take a step forward and start to make some significant strides.”
  • He credited John Hart and Frank Wren for their good work in Atlanta. Mentioned that Wren was responsible for signing Acuna as a cheap international free agent and that Hart oversaw some strong trades and drafts to help build the farm system. He did not mentioned John Coppolella by name. (I was wondering if he would.)
  • Talked about Alex Jackson and how he turned things around last year. Felt like this would be a big year for him.

On payroll and signing free agents:

  • Braves took on significant money in the trade with the Dodgers to free up everything for 2019. They wanted to make sure they had financial flexibility moving forward.
  • Said they’ve discussed backloading a deal to see if something might work. Would only do it if the player helped them out in 2019 and 2020.

On third base:

  • It’s a battle right now between Rio Ruiz and Johan Camargo. Mentioned that Ruiz is someone who is ready to take the next step.
  • Haven’t ruled out bringing in a veteran to help out.

On the rotation:

  • The only three with jobs locked down are Julio Teheran, Brandon McCarthy and Mike Foltynewicz.
  • Said that Luiz Gohara and Sean Newcomb are projected for two other spots, but it would be a battle that involved Max Fried, Lucas Sims and others.
  • Also noted that he’s known Mike Soroka since before the draft and met him in pre-draft showcases while working with Toronto. (Soroka and Anthopoulos are, of course, Canadian). Also spoke highly of Kolby Allard.

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It was certainly a worthwhile interview. You can listen here — thanks to @braedenclane for recording it this morning.