The Braves, or at least the fan base, were dealt a pretty shocking blow on Tuesday as Josh Donaldson agreed to a four-year deal with the Minnesota Twins. With his electric personality, Donaldson endeared himself to the Atlanta faithful in his one-year stint with the Braves, and replacing that will likely prove difficult for Alex Anthopoulos. More importantly, the Braves have massive holes at third base and in the heart of their order, which could push them into the market for one of several available trade targets at third base.
In addition to the hole at third base, the Braves could conceivably look to upgrade one of their outfield spots with an eye toward filling the cleanup spot in the order as well. Among the possibilities for Atlanta are outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos on the free agent market along with a host of trade targets that could add to the offensive attack. Rumors surfaced on Wednesday that the Braves favored Ozuna to Castellanos due to his defensive advantage, though neither grades out as a particularly skilled defender. Those rumors could come to fruition, though with such a shallow supply of power bats remaining, both players could conceivably wait until their asking prices are met.
The Braves have been assumed as the Donaldson destination for much of the winter, which makes the aftermath of his departure an anxious time. Atlanta is so bereft of offensive talent beyond the trio that heads their lineup, that the possibility of entering the season as currently constructed is certainly a worthy concern. Alex Anthopoulos has given little indication as to just how much payroll flexibility remains at this point in the offseason, but given his aggressiveness in pursuit of Will Smith, Travis d’Arnaud, Chris Martin, and others early this winter, fans expected a continuation of that approach in filling more pressing needs. Opening the season with the current crop of bats would be a disaster, but there is still time for these needs to be addressed, and Wednesday’s rumors would seem to indicate that Atlanta is still in the market for offensive production.
Demetrius looks at the options that remain for Atlanta in the absence of their departed third baseman, Josh Donaldson.
Anthony looks at the departure of Donaldson with less optimism, as he notes that Atlanta missed a prime opportunity to retain their cleanup hitter.
The next installment of the TC Prospect List includes a mixture of lottery ticket arms and toolsy bats that could soon contribute in Atlanta.
The Braves add some depth to their infield mix, signing veteran Yangervis Solarte to a minor league deal.
The Braves rate at the top of the NL East among middle infield duos according to Anthony DiComo.
Shortstop Dansby Swanson and second baseman Ozzie Albies are preparing to begin a third consecutive season together as the Braves’ double-play combination. Albies has established himself as one of the game’s top young players, producing some of the best offensive statistics ever recorded by a switch-hitter aged 22 or younger. Despite missing five weeks with a right heel injury, Swanson hit a career-high 17 homers last year and showed the potential to be an offensive asset.
When Alex Anthopoulos was Toronto’s general manager, he traded for a 29-year-old Josh Donaldson and watched him produce an MVP season while helping the Blue Jays win the American League East in 2015 and ‘16. And now Anthopoulos — who brought Donaldson to Atlanta last year and just watched him agree to a deal with Minnesota — could trade for another power-hitting, Gold Glove-caliber, 29-year-old third baseman.
The Braves have a deeper farm system than the Rangers and Rockies, and their willingness to part with top prospects likely rests on whether Arenado is willing to waive his opt-out after the 2021 season and agree to stay with Atlanta for the full seven years on his contract.
The Red Sox are in need of a manager after the shocking dismissal of Alex Cora. Here are some of the candidates that stand out.
See what remains on the free agent market here.