With multiple teams wanting to clear space for top free agents, could the Atlanta Braves benefit by taking on some salary?
While multiple Atlanta Braves fans would prefer a big addition from the free agent market or a controllable, young trade target like Mitch Haniger, the Atlanta Braves could take advantage of this offseason to build their team well.
Alex Anthopolous built a very good team in Toronto in a location where free agents didn’t want to go and where there weren’t a lot of funds available to overpay, so he had to make smart moves, like trading for Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson, and R.A. Dickey. You can argue long-term on some of those deals, but the deals put together a team that won the perennially-strong AL East in 2015.
He’s shown this offseason already that he’s willing to be smart in this offseason when relievers are going for cheap, waiting out the market to get the best deal for the team, and with a depth of outfielders still available, he could be doing the same thing in that market.
That said, he’s also done well in the trade market over his career by being innovative. In November of 2012, Anthopoulos made one of the more historic trades, acquiring Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio for Yunel Escobar, Jeff Mathis, Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, and Justin Nicolino. Alvarez was coming off his first full season, and Escobar and Mathis were both veterans by that point, but the rest were all still minor league players.
This offseason’s opportunity
This offseason, multiple teams are attempting to clear space in an attempt to make a bid for Manny Machado and/or Bryce Harper, who have been underwhelmed by offers thus far, per reports. With money not being the pure deciding factor, multiple teams are now working to get themselves into the bidding who did not think that they were going to have a chance at either player.
This could give the Atlanta Braves an opportunity to grab an excellent player who may have fallen out of favor with his current organization or simply doesn’t fit in that team’s plans in order to clear up salary space for various teams to pursue Harper, Machado, or perhaps other top players.
Let’s take a look at a few of those teams and players that would make sense for the Atlanta Braves to pursue on each team…