The Atlanta Braves could still pull one out of their magic hat, or even trade for one, but don’t expect it to be their priority
With the chase for the big fish – who is obviously Bryce Harper – being crowded, the Atlanta Braves could be looking at other options and their recent moves might be the signs of that. Earlier this week, they signed OF Ryan LaMarre to a minor league deal with an invite to spring.
For all we know right now, that is just a depth move but not long after, they signed another OF, Rafael Ortega, to a minor league deal who also got an invite. One, if not both, of these guys could be released after ST, could sit in AAA until an injury occurs or they could also be a potential bench-platoon guy for 2019.
If the 3rd option happens, then they would join Adam Duvall, whether he is then the starter or another bench piece… or simply non-tendered next week. That could mean the Braves wouldn’t be signing someone like Harper, AJ Pollock, Michael Brantley or even guys like Andrew McCutchen or Carlos Gonzalez.
If they make a move it could be for just a good enough player that wouldn’t cost too much money or package return.
To be fair, it has been “they-will/they-won’t” for the entire Atlanta Braves off-season so far, and switching from one to the other literally within hours. Like this:
His two tweets were a little over an hour from each other and it hasn’t been just O’Brien as many outlets have stated the club was in on big free agents and then reporting just the opposite.
This is how usually baseball off-seasons are with people having different sources (or sometimes making their own stuff up…we know those people) but it feels different for the Braves THIS time around.
Maybe it’s due to the loaded FA market this year and the amount of teams coming out of their rebuilds.
The Braves now have some holes they need to fill in including big ones like right field, catcher and the bullpen while also other spots that could use a boost like the rotation. Luckily this year’s market has all of those in stock and the Braves supposedly have A LOT of money to spend.
However, that doesn’t mean they’ll use it and they’ve been hinting at that plenty of times. Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos have stated, at different times, that he’ll only make decisions IF:
- It’ll help the team by max value
- If it won’t impact the prospects, which means not wanting to block their path to the majors
- If it won’t affect the future of the club meaning not wanting to affect the club’s chemistry, affecting the club’s ability to sign other players or extending good players they already have when the time comes
Each of those points are important because they don’t want to put all their money towards 1 guy when they could use it to fill multiple positions with good enough, if not just as good, players.
They also don’t want to be locked up with a player even after his prime has passed which would block a potential elite prospect knocking at the door soon.
The Braves now have names like Austin Riley and Cristian Pache that should be within 1-2 years from contributing. Also they now have names like Mike Foltynewicz, Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. that they’ll surely want to extend in the future.
Even though the two guys they signed are no where near capable of providing the batting power that Harper or any of the other FAs would, it could mean the Braves aren’t making the OF the priority at the moment.
They could still make a splash at other positions and even though Anthopoulos has said he felt the infield is fine as it is, there are guys at those spots that could help the lineup. There’s also the option of trading for an impactful outfielder which would go along with this tweet from David O’Brien:
Anthopoulos has been more secretive – that’s been his reputation – than any of his predecessors from recent memory. So Braves Country will only know for sure who the Braves are getting when it’s officially announced. That should be a good thing to avoid holes and leaks to come out and it’ll only make it even more exciting when a deal is made.
Here’s A Quick Profile Of Ortega
Ortega has played in the majors for the the Colorado Rockies (2012), the LA Angels (2016) and the Miami Marlins (2018). In that time span, he’s slashed for a .236 average with a homer and 23 RBIs in 351 plate appearances.
In the minors, he had/has a .293 BA with 47 homers but has yet to transfer that to the majors. He was also scouted as having good defensive skills and having a good arm and speed.
He had some experience as a starter for the Angels due to injuries.
A cheap OF that was signed last year by the team, who eventually took a bench role was Peter Bourjos. Though it wasn’t a minor league deal but rather a 1-year deal for $1 million, it was a similar mentality.