The Atlanta Braves have been aggressive early in the MLB offseason, but need to keep going to build a roster that can take the next step in the playoffs.
There was a great deal of consternation after Atlanta Braves exec Alex Anthopoulos put his foot in his mouth and admitted to discussing his plans for free agency with rival front offices around the league. The hubbub over collusion, however, appears to be premature. If there was any concern that the Braves would be looking to work with other owners to keep costs down this offseason, the team isn’t behaving like it wants to pinch pennies on free agents in their thirties.
The Braves moved quickly to sign All-Star closer Will Smith and re-signed solid setup man Chris Martin. They’ve already committed $54 million to two relievers and are showing no signs of slowing down.
Expect the Braves to add at least one more high-profile free agent this winter. They also cannot be ruled out of making a blockbuster trade for a star like Francisco Lindor, Mookie Betts or Kris Bryant.
Atlanta has won two NL East titles in a row, but has not managed to escape the first round of the playoffs. They suffered an embarrassing meltdown against the St. Louis Cardinals in this year’s NLDS, with their weaknesses in the starting rotation and bullpen exposed.
The Braves have already worked hard to address the bullpen issues and are reportedly very interested in free agent Madison Bumgarner. All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson is also a free agent and the Braves are very interested in keeping him.
Donaldson and Bumgarner are very solid targets for the Braves, and signing one or both of them would keep the team right at the top of the World Series conversation.
In addition to those two, which other free agents should the team target to make this a perfect offseason?
5. Mike Moustakas
Until he’s putting pen to paper with another team and changing jerseys, the Braves should be considered the favorites to keep All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson. If something changes, however, they will need to find a replacement at the hot corner. Three-time All-Star Mike Moustkas is the next-best option, assuming the Braves can’t come up with over $30 million per year to land Anthony Rendon.
Moustakas lacks the elite defensive skills that Donaldson brings to third base, but can provide similar power production. Over the last three years, he has hit .259/.319/.498 with 87 doubles, 101 home runs and 267 RBI. Moustakas can be counted on to put the ball in play, but won’t offer much in terms of on-base percentage. The 31-year-old is strictly a play for doubles and home runs. He has also shown some versatility by learning to play second base and hasn’t been terrible at the position.