The Hot Stove season continues to move at a snail’s pace but the Atlanta Braves may be checking in on some stop gap options at third base.
The Athletic’s Jim Bowden took a look at the Top 10 available free agent options this morning and the Braves turned up in the discussion in regards to free agent Mike Moustakas. Per Bowden, the Braves aren’t considering Moustakas and are instead considering stop-gap options like Todd Frazier or Eduardo Nunez.
The Braves do not have interest in Moustakas and instead are focusing on stop-gap third basemen like free agents Todd Frazier and Eduardo Nunez as they wait for top prospect Austin Riley to arrive. That is a mistake. Moustakas would fit great in that ballpark and his defense would be phenomenal in developing their young pitching staff. The Braves could always package Riley with a couple of their pitching prospects to land either Christian Yelich and/or J.T. Realmuto in a trade with the Marlins. Those type of moves would expedite the Braves return to contention.
I disagree with Bowden that this is a mistake and think that Frazier or Nunez would fit nicely provided they could be had on short deals.
Frazier of course was one of the big third base names to enter the market this winter but the slow moving process is likely working against him. He will turn 32 in February and is coming off a season in which he was worth 3.0 fWAR between the White Sox and the Yankees. Frazier appeared in 147 games and hit .213/.344/.428 with 27 home runs.
Nunez might be an even cheaper option. He doesn’t have the power of Frazier but is a bit more versatile. He split 2017 between the Giants and Red Sox and posted a .313/.341/.460 line with 12 homers in 114 games.
Signing either of these players for two year deals would prevent the need to rush Riley. Either could shift into a bench role if Riley proved ready early or could also be dealt in that situation. If the Braves needed to include Riley in a bigger deal for Christian Yelich or J.T. Realmuto then yeah that could change their thinking at third. However, as things stand currently, pursuing stop-gap options appears to be the best bet.