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Braves Mailbag: Freddie Freeman contract, Spencer Strider and more

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All eyes are still on Freeman as the postseason begins.

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves Photo by Adam Hagy/Getty Images

Thanks to everyone who sent in questions for this week’s mailbag. Let’s jump right into it!

Who do you think the Braves will use when they need a 4th starter. Is it possible that either Kyle Muller or Kyle Wright will be added to the postseason roster based on their recent play?

I think there is zero chance that we will see Muller or Wright on the NLDS roster barring an unexpected injury. If they had been in the mix then we would have likely seen them promoted in the final series along with Spencer Strider and Dylan Lee.

I’m still betting on Huascar Ynoa to start Game 4 and how long he goes probably depends on whether or not he pitches in Games 1 & 2. I think a bullpen game is the likely outcome.

At this late stage, why would Freddie Freeman sign with the Braves without waiting a bit longer to enter the open market?

He probably wouldn’t and I will be surprised if he signs before free agency opens. That is what tends to happen when things drag out this long and a player gets this close to free agency. It would be in Freeman’s best interest to see what other teams are offering even if the likely result is that he ends up back with the Braves. The situation with Justin Turner and the Dodgers from last offseason comes to mind on a smaller scale. I think by waiting, the Braves are going to have to pay more, but given the situation coming out of the pandemic, they may not have had much choice.

What’s a contract (both years and AAV) that would make sense for both Freddie and the Braves?

The five-year, $130 million extension that the Cardinals gave Paul Goldschmidt has always been the model for me when discussing an extension for Freeman. Freeman is about a year older than Goldschmidt was when he signed that extension, but I think his performance and importance to the franchise put him in line for a slightly higher number. If the Braves don’t want to go five-years then they will have to up the annual value of the deal. At the end of the day, if both sides want to continue to work together, as they have stated publicly, then there has to be a path to a deal.

If for some reason the Braves don’t retain Freddie, who would your top 3 candidates be to replace him? Internal or external

I don’t think there are three internal candidates. The easiest thing to do would be to sign a first baseman or move Austin Riley to first and sign a third baseman.

I still can’t see the Braves moving forward without Freddie Freeman.

Why doesn’t Travis Demeritte get considered for a call up? I know he doesn’t have as much upside as Cristian Pache and Drew Waters but he has raked all year.

The first thought that comes to mind is that you shouldn’t put too much stock in Triple-A numbers. Orlando Arcia was raking at Gwinnett and then didn’t when he got an opportunity. Johan Camargo raked at Gwinnett and didn’t produce in the limited opportunities he had as well. It is pretty telling that there wasn’t an opportunity for Demeritte when the Braves were starting at times both Guillermo Heredia and Abraham Almonte in the outfield. Demeritte was claimed off waivers and then quickly outrighted off the 40-man roster. That is a pretty clear indication that the team sees him mostly as organizational depth.

Should Spencer Strider bring back his mustache and take over the closer role? And if your answer is no, why do you hate fun and 100 mph cheese?

I don’t hate fun and I certainly don’t hate 100 mph fastballs but it is already a stretch to include a reliever on the postseason roster that has made just two appearances in the majors. Especially when that player might play a pretty significant role. There is more to it than simply throwing hard, but Strider has done enough that I am intrigued to see how he performs in the postseason and what that might say about his long term future.

Why is Austin Riley not getting any MVP hype from the national media?

Austin Riley had an amazing season. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the Braves MVP this season and they would not be in the postseason without him. When you think about it, they have spent the last two offseasons looking for a power bat for the middle of the order. Riley gave them that this season and looks poised to continue to do that for years to come. That was the best possible outcome and he answered everyone that was questioning him prior to the season.

Riley deserves MVP consideration but he has never been a real threat to win the award. Bryce Harper had an amazing season in Philadelphia and single handedly kept that team in consideration. The award was Fernando Tatis Jr’s to lose before the shoulder injury and the Padres’ second half collapse closed the gap. Riley’s been great but I don’t think he belongs in the top part of the discussion.

Assuming Soroka misses some time, should the Braves seek outside help for the rotation season? Ynoa really faded and while Muller and Davidson looked good at times, I worry about filling both the 4-5 spots with prospects.

After the Braves locked up Charlie Morton for next season there was some talk of their rotation being set. I don’t think it is set but it won’t be as big a priority heading into the offseason. I would not be surprised to see Alex Anthopoulos bring in another starter or two on short deals to add depth. That is something that he has shown he is willing to do and I don’t really think this offseason will be any different. Too much depth is a good problem to have.

Are you worried about Ron Washington leaving to take a manager’s job with another club?

I am more worried about it this offseason than I have been in the past. He got passed over previously by San Diego but I think he is a natural fit for that club and has history with A.J. Preller. So yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised to see his name come up this offseason.