It’s still way early, but this is the first bona fide rumor of the Hot Stove season… so let’s put on a pot of water for tea.
It’s going to be like this for a while this Fall and Winter… we’ll have an idea one day and it gets invalidated by the next. So it will go with the Atlanta Braves – for no matter what their actual plans and preferences might be… reality is a cruel mistress.
Just this morning, I suggested that the Braves might be interested in one of the Indians’ frontline starting pitchers, but that Ken Rosenthal’s report seemed to suggest that they might be tending to other priorities first… namely catching.
In particular, the Braves beat writers had been mentioning J.T. Realmuto‘s name with sufficient repetition to make one believe that he’s a trade target.
Maybe the Marlins have other designs, though. For suddenly, this rumor has cropped up this afternoon:
This is probably not the same thing as happened last week when Atlanta acquired Raffy Lopez from the Padres for some cash. In that transaction, Lopez looks to be the “in case of emergency, break glass” catcher that they stash at Gwinnett.
No – in Robinson Chirinos, a signing would be a signal of intent to be done with catching pursuits for the off-season.
Going further, Morosi’s scoop also suggests that the Braves are already moving on from asking the Marlins about Realmuto’s services – either because someone else has already gone beyond Atlanta’s comfort zone for a trade of prospects or because there’s simply no desire for the Marlins to move him for any ‘reasonable’ price.
The only reason that the 34-year-old Chirinos is even available on the open market is because the Rangers chose to decline their option for 2019 of $4.5 million (a figure in some dispute on baseball-reference.com).
In 2018, he declined a bit offensively, but he’s still above average in defense… according to fangraphs’ chart. He did hit 18 homers in 426 plate appearances.
That said, Chirinos also ranked 114th out of 117 catchers in ‘(Catcher) Fielding Runs Above Average’ (Baseball Prospectus) and the same in adjusted Framing Runs above average.
So this rumor is … an odd one. Here’s why:
- He’s right-handed (duh) and hits righty. So does Tyler Flowers.
- He’s 34-1/2 years old (six months +/- younger than Kurt Suzuki)
- He’s worse offensively than Kurt Suzuki
- He’s worse defensively than Kurt Suzuki (though this is close)
Soooo… why not just re-sign Suzuki: a guy who at least expressed an interest in staying?
The answer could revolve around money: Chirinos will probably get somewhere between $3m-and-$3.5 million from somebody… Suzuki would likely see a bit more (Flowers is signed up for $6m).
Still – whether Atlanta ultimately gets Chirinos or not, this is a quick pivot to what had to have been Plan B (or maybe C).
Jon Morosi is on fire… he had a second rumor (fact?) involving the Braves today.
Don’t confuse the first half of that (the fact part) with the second half (also a fact, but not an actual connection of the dots).
Sure, the Braves would like to have Kimbrel, but as suggested this morning, he’s almost going to have to suspend reality to sign with Atlanta. He comes with the baggage of a Qualifying offer and thus would cost Atlanta a draft pick next year… never mind his probable cost level (estimated at 4 years and $70 million).
So let’s just say – especially at this point in the off-season – that while the sentiment (‘Braves interested in adding a closer’) is valid, getting Kimbrel is going to be difficult at best.
As for everything else? The market may now be wide open.