CARLSBAD, CALIF. —
The Braves won’t be dabbling in the high-priced reliever market, meaning dreams of a reunion with Craig Kimbrel are likely just that.
While corner outfield and catcher are the team’s stated priorities, the bullpen and bench will also be addressed. The bullpen need is glaring, especially after regular-season stalwarts Dan Winkler, Jesse Biddle and Shane Carle were basically burned out before the postseason.
Upgrades won’t be made through a substantial free-agent commitment. The Braves only have so many dollars (though more than years past) and will be reluctant to pay relievers with miles on their arm who command exorbitant terms.
“On the right guy, sure,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos said when asked if the franchise is comfortable giving relievers multi-year deals. “We don’t have any hard rules.”
But the supposed right guy probably isn’t in this market. Speculation has linked the Braves with fan-favorite and All-Star Kimbrel, one of the best closers in history.
Kimbrel started his career with Braves and pitched five seasons for the team.
The Red Sox remain interested in re-signing Kimbrel, while the Cardinals, Phillies and others reportedly hold interest. Unless his market absolutely craters, the Braves won’t be involved.
The franchise is open to adding a closer, but the current Arodys Vizcaino and A.J. Minter duo is acceptable. They could address the backend with a shorter-term player such as Greg Holland. After an abysmal stint in St. Louis, Holland gave the Nationals a 0.84 ERA across 24 games.
MLB Trade Rumors connected the Braves with Indians reliever Cody Allen, who’s coming off a tough season but could sign a one-year deal to rebuild value. That’s a probable direction for the club if not the trade market.
The Braves weren’t active in the reliever free-agent market as of Wednesday evening, instead focusing their attention on potential trades at other spots.