Baseball enters yet another offseason filled with question marks. Last winter brought a slow, quiet, patient free agent market with very little prompting. The league seemed to largely favor cheaper internal options rather than handing out multiyear free agent deals. That sentiment is likely to carry over to this offseason after the league operated at a loss in 2020. Will free agents struggle to find suitors willing to pay fair price? It looks grim, but hopefully bold teams will find cause to spend this offseason.
Can the Braves afford to be bold with their payroll this offseason? Whether the Braves willing and able to spend after they supposedly operated at a loss in 2020 remains to be seen.
It figures to be a tough market overall for the free-agency class of 2020-21, but if there are a few aggressive buyers, the top-end players likely will find contracts to their liking, eventually. For lesser free agents, it could be a cold, quiet winter.
What do the Braves need as we enter the offseason?
Atlanta Braves: Starting pitching
Mike Soroka will miss the first month or two of 2021 following Achilles surgery, a big blow to Atlanta’s rotation. Having signed Cole Hamels to a one-year, $18 million deal last year, the Braves have another $38 million coming off the books with Marcell Ozuna, Mark Melancon and Shane Greene all headed for free agency. Though a Ozuna reunion is possible, he would not come cheap after the season he just had.
Potential FA targets: Mike Minor, LHP; Jake Odorizzi, RHP
Of course the Braves made this list...
I’ve already written about how much Atlanta sports fans have been through, and how underrated a tortured sports city Atlanta is, and that was before the Braves’ crushing National League Championship Series loss to the eventual champion Dodgers after holding a 3-1 series lead. The good news for Atlanta is that this does not seem to be a Falcons 28-3 situation, where the NFL team receded almost immediately and now appears to be farther away from a championship than they were in the first place. The Braves are overflowing with talent and presumably won’t be as ravaged by pitcher injuries as they were this year. Plus, they finally won a couple of playoff series this year, for the first time in nearly 20 years. The bad news: The Dodgers are going to be back next year, too.
Shane Greene was excellent for the Braves in 2020.
As was Mark Melancon.
Every free agent this winter, listed by position.
Which players control their own fate for the 2021 season?
It appears Starling Marte will return to Miami in 2021.