Needless to say, we’ve hit a bit of a lull in the offseason. Granted, this offseason for the Braves has already seen a bit more action than what we saw last year. Remember when the Braves signed Peter Moylan and Chris Stewart? Yeah, those two were the only major league players who the Braves added before spring training via free agency. When it comes to that particular department of adding players, the Braves are basically miles ahead of where they were last season.
Part of that has to do with baseball in general being a tad bit more active this year and part of that also has to do with the fact that the Braves actually plan on winning this season, compared to last year where if we’re all being honest, it was an extremely pleasant surprise to see the team do what they did last year. But still, it’s totally understandable to start to get a bit antsy about the team’s activity during the offseason — especially when the rest of the division is making additions themselves in an effort to keep up with the Braves.
However, that last sentence is something that you can’t forget — they have to keep up with the Braves now. Atlanta’s not in a position where they need to play catch-up with the Nationals of the baseball world now. They’re trying to catch up with the Dodgers of the world and as such you have to figure that the team is in a completely different mindset now. Instead of just making moves to tread water or for the sake of putting a major league caliber roster out there to compete while your youngsters gain experience, the Braves are now in the business of making impact moves that could move them out of making admirable efforts in the Divisional Series to hopefully competing for some hardware in a World Series.
With that being said, it’s totally understandable to read and hear our fellow fans freaking out a bit about the lack of activity while other teams are doing stuff. I mean, it’s totally reasonable to be like “Man, what’s going on here,” when you see the Astros pick up Michael Brantley for two years and $32 million when you figure that the Braves probably could have done that. Even with Mark Bowman making the very important point of Texas having no state income tax, it’s still understandable to see that happen and feel a bit bummed about the Braves potentially missing out on a steal.
The good news is that there’s still plenty of time between now and even the earliest days of pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training, which means it’s not time to panic yet. There’s no need to storm 755 Battery Avenue with your foam tomahawks in hand. Instead, it’s time to read the tea leaves so that we can possibly try to figure out what’s next for the Braves. While it was admittedly cool seeing the former regime basically put their plans out there with an unprecedented amount of transparency, that’s probably not the best way of actually going about your business when it comes to baseball.
Instead, we’re forced to try to figure out Atlanta’s next move based on reading the market, translating the rumors and keeping in mind Alex Anthopoulos’ previous moves at other destinations in order to try to see what the next move could be. That’ll be a difficult task since most of the moves that the Braves have made under Anthopoulos have seemingly come out of nowhere. Even though Josh Donaldson coming to Atlanta was a perfect fit and a move that they had to make, there were almost no warning signs of that move happening. Plus earlier that day, I don’t think that anybody was talking about how they just knew all along that Brian McCann would be coming back for a second go-around with the Braves.
It’s very possible and very likely that the next Braves move will likely continue their personal trend of Randy Orton-ing the baseball world. The only things we really have to go on as far as substantial rumors is that the Braves are trying to add a starter, a reliever and an outfielder and then there’s the whirlwind of rumors surrounding J.T. Realmuto. The former is vague enough to where when you consider the Braves’ financial situation and current status in the baseball world, they can do anything they want within reason and come out of things still looking okay. The latter is, well, probably even vaguer.
That’s because it really depends on who you ask as to whether or not Realmuto is going to be moved and not only traded but sent to Cobb County. Marlins insider Craig Mish has been adamant when it comes to his sources telling him that the Braves currently have the inside track on Realmuto. Braves insider Mark Bowman has been adamant when it comes to his sources telling him that the Braves actually haven’t been talking to the Marlins when it comes to Realmuto as of late. So when there’s this much of a gap between two reporters, there are only two things to do: Either you set up a duel between the reporters (and Mish appears to be ready for the duel) or you just figure that the truth is somewhere in the middle.
That means that while the Braves may not be a slam-dunk candidate to land Realmuto, they’re probably not completely out. This could be a case of both teams utilizing the media as a negotiation tool, which is something that you see from time-to-time. Either way, the Braves aren’t out and I’m of the belief that the Braves won’t be “out” of the Realmuto sweepstakes until he’s lifting up another team’s jersey at their press conference.
I’m also of the belief that if the Braves are going to make a big move soon, it’ll probably be via trade. Andrew McCutchen and Michael Brantley are both off the board and you have to wonder how much they really value the rest of the free agency market when it comes to outfielders. While they probably won’t make a huge dunk in the free agency hoop (unless Jeff Francoeur is right about the Braves allegedly being in on Bryce Harper, then that would qualify as a 1992 Shawn Kemp dunk), they have enough capital in prospects to where it would almost be bad business for the team not to send off some highly rated could-be stars in exchange for some already stars. That goes for potential relievers and starter as well.
Basically, the Braves are still in a pretty good position at the moment. There’s definitely a glaring hole in the outfield but a competent front office like this one can and will patch it up eventually. The only real frustrating part is that we all have to be patient and basically just read the tea leaves as Old Man Winter tightens his icy clutch on the country.