The Braves are expected to be quite active on the free agent and trade markets over the next few months to address a handful of holes on the roster. MLB Trade Rumors released their free agent predictions for the 2018-19 offseason on Friday and they see the Braves signing two players.
First up, Michael Brantley:
10. Michael Brantley – Braves. Three years, $45MM. Brantley, 32 in May, hit .305/.362/.459 over the last two seasons as the Indians’ left fielder. He has spent his entire Major League career in the organization following his inclusion in the 2008 CC Sabathia trade with Milwaukee. The concern is Brantley’s health, as he was limited to 101 games from 2016-17 due to shoulder, biceps, and ankle injuries, all of which involved surgery. He still should have enough interest to land a three-year deal coming off a 143-game season in which he was typically excellent at the plate. The Indians could bring him back if they can fit him into the budget, though they chose not to issue a qualifying offer. He’ll otherwise have a similar market to McCutchen, though Brantley hits from the left side and has historically carried fairly notable platoon splits.
As you see above, MLBTR predicted Brantley will get $15 million a year over the next three seasons. When healthy (as he was in 2018), Brantley has been worth the money as he’s a career .295/.351/.430 hitter (114 wRC+). As he’s gotten older and battled injuries his defense has suffered (-3 in 2018, +4 in 2017) although he is far from unplayable in a corner outfield spot. I’d worry more about the length of the contract than the money with Brantley, but it’s hard to deny he would slot into the top of the lineup nicely given his strong on-base abilities when healthy.
Next up, another former Cleveland Indian, Cody Allen:
37. Cody Allen – Braves. Two years, $16MM. Allen dominated as the Indians’ closer from 2014-17, posting a 2.62 ERA, 12.1 K/9, and 120 saves. This year, an increase in home runs and walks allowed torched his value. Just 30 in November, Allen shouldn’t have a hard time finding a team willing to bet on a return to form. Perhaps his camp even prefers a one-year deal with an eye on reentering the market next season, but multiple years should still be possible if the goal is to take max dollars now.
As MLBTR mentioned, Allen was in line for a hefty payday before he struggled in 2018. It would be an opportunity to buy low(er) on a guy who was once among the game’s elite relief pitchers. He’s been very durable throughout his career as he’s appeared in 67+ games in each of the last six seasons. Allen is just one of many relievers the Braves will consider this winter.
Elsewhere, MLBTR predicted an unfathomable 14-year, $420 million deal for Bryce Harper and the Los Angeles Dodgers. They have Manny Machado signing with the Phillies for an equally massive 13 years and $390 million. Patrick Corbin, the best starting pitcher on the market, is projected for six years and $129 million with the Yankees. Old friend Nick Markakis was also predicted to go to Philadelphia for two years and $16 million.