Everyone in baseball is waiting on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado to sign their mega deals. But those signings could also affect the Atlanta Braves offseason decision making.
Now I’ve written previously that other moves in the division shouldn’t deter the Braves from their path, but these two players could change things quite a bit and perhaps force a response of some kind.
The Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals have both been rumored to be involved with these high priced free agents.
Some even suggest that the Phillies could be in on both players.
Meanwhile, the Nationals have reportedly offered over $300 million to Harper. Honestly, it would make more sense for the Nationals to give that money to Machado. The Nats are set in the outfield, and I would not be all that worried if they signed Harper.
The bigger threat to the Braves, in my opinion, would be if the Phillies signed both players. That would immediately give them a dangerous lineup.
If that were to happen, then I think the mindset of the Braves going into 2019 might change a little.
A New Pecking Order?
Right now you essentially have four teams in the division who all are trying to win right now. The Mets, Nationals, Phillies, and Braves have all made moves this offseason to win in 2019.
The Braves, and maybe the Nationals, are the only teams who I think are set up to win now and in the future.
It wouldn’t make a ton of sense for the Braves to give up part of that future to trade for an ace who only helps them in 2019 and maybe 2020.
Especially when you start to consider that the back-end of the Braves prospect pool looks a little bare. A lot of the Braves top prospects are on the cusp of joining the big league club, an once that happens the Braves farm system could nosedive.
Right now, the Nationals are the favorite to win the NL East going into the season. They have the best pitching staff and still have a very deep lineup even without Harper.
I think at least one NL East team will get a Wild Card spot this year — especially when you consider the fact that the NL East matches up with the AL Central in 2019.
That doesn’t mean the Braves should throw in the towel on winning the division if Harper and Machado sign within the division, but I certainly wouldn’t give up the farm for 2019.
Bottom line, let’s just hope Harper and Machado sign outside of the division. And let’s hope the Atlanta Braves continue to develop their young stars as we look to win not only in 2019, but for years to come.