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The Daily Chop: Targets, Free agent profiles, League schedule, and more

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Do they Braves have a specific focus for where they will find a middle-of-the-order bat?

MLB: NLCS-Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves entered the offseason with question marks, but mostly related to their pitching staff. They answered those questions by inking Drew Smyly and Charlie Morton in November, continuing a recent trend of setting the market by signing their targets very early in the offseason. One major vacancy that remains is that of Marcell Ozuna, whose place behind Freddie Freeman will need to be addressed heading into 2021. Little can be surmised from the rumor mill, but adding a bat seems to be the paramount concern for Atlanta at the moment, but where will they turn? One major factor in that pursuit is already on the roster: Austin Riley.

Atlanta has gotten mixed results from Riley throughout his tenure at the big league level. Hot streaks create buzz, then cold streaks create angst, all while the Braves continue allow their young slugger to grow. In 2020, he batted .239/.301/.415 with 8 homers and 27 RBI. Those numbers hardly inspire confidence, but there are some underlying metrics that could foreshadow a breakout. An improvement with the bat to go along with a solid defensive profile, plus the versatility to play left field would Riley an invaluable player going forward. Can he capitalize on the patience displayed by the organization?

Braves News

Braves reportedly more focused on adding left fielder than third baseman to bolster lineup

Speaking of Riley, his presence has apparently pushed the Braves to seek a left fielder rather than a third baseman. Of course, the source of this information and history of counterintelligence from the Atlanta front office make it difficult to fully buy in, but the report exists nonetheless.

Braves Potential Free Agent Target: George Springer

Possibly the best free agent on the market, this piece breaks down the profile of George Springer. Is he likely to land with the Braves? No. But with his skillset, we have to at least mention the possibility and lay out the advantages and disadvantages.

Braves Potential Free Agent Target: Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley is another free agent who could be of interest, though his fit is even more suspect. Bradley is a solid defender, but his bat is difficult to project. Assuming the Braves utilize Cristian Pache in center field, Bradley would need his bat to produce at a level that would warrant playing him in left field. That would be a tough bet to make, but time will tell. Someone will almost certainly make it, but the Braves don’t seem terribly likely.

MLB News

MLB planning for full 162 game season, normal spring training, per report

This feels like great news on the surface. A 162-game season would be incredible, but the possibility exists that Manfred was simply pacifying the MLBPA with this statement. Pushing for another abbreviated season could be a major red flag as it pertains to negotiating in good faith, but let’s hope that we can just take these comments at face value and get excited for a full season of baseball in 2021.

Hendriks, White Sox agree to deal (source)

Big money for the top reliever on the market, Liam Hendriks, who lands in Chicago on a three-year, $54 million deal.

Bauer may have case for richest AAV deal

Bauer likes one-year deals. Can he set a record by taking one?