Chuck Booth (Owner/Lead Analyst) Follow @chuckbooth3024
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John Hart knows how to build teams in the Majors. He was at the forefront of the Cleveland Indians in the 1990’s when they signed a bunch of young nucleus players to multi year extensions. It was a trend that worked out for nearly a decade.
A pile of organizations copied this template. I must admit I thought he may have been a bit past his prime when the Braves finally hired him on last year, but he seems to carrying out the mission with Atlanta as well.
Of course taking over for Frank Wren – there was not much to go but up. Dan Uggla, Derek Lowe and B.J. Upton ultimately cost the former GM his job, but it should be noted he did orchestrate 3 decent trades in acquiring Justin Upton, Michael Bourn and Javier Vasquez much earlier.
Atlanta also traded away Craig Kimbrel and Andrelton of late. The haul for Kimbrel was nice, while Simmons was set to make $53 MIL over 5 years. Not huge cash, but for a guy more noted for defense, and with a team rebuilding, losing the dollars owed was a more significant move.
I also can’t emphasize enough how awesome it was to rid themselves of the Melvin Upton JR. contract.
There is no doubt the recent haul they received for Shelby Miller has convinced the Braves fans that good times may just be around the corner. They are truly building something decent for the start of the new stadium in Cobb County next year.
Provided the coaches don’t have a braincramp, the talents of Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher will also come off the books at the end of 2016. There is only $52 MIL committed on the books for next year in this event. Lots of money to play around with in spending.
In the Miller deal, they added a nice piece in Ender Inciarte to the OF mix. He has 5 years left of team control, and capped off s sophomore year with a decent .747 OPS.
Dansby Swanson is from Georgia, and may provide the club with its Shortstop of the future, and he is originally from Georgia. It is awesome to have a hometown boy in a city like Atlanta – where attendance can be heavily influenced by year to year.
Aaron Blair, the other player picked up in the deal, may also be ready for a rotation spot on the Pitching Staff by next campaign.
Tyrell Jenkins, also picked up originally from the Cardinals in the deal to acquire Heyward, may see some time with the 2016 Braves too, buy could potentially hit the Starting Staff by 2017.
Speaking of trades that help the team in the future. Matt Wisler, (acquired in the deal for Kimbrel by the Padres), projects to be the #2 starter for Atlanta in the coming year.
There was simply no way the club should have kept Kimbrel when you are not expected to contend. He still had $53 MIL left on his deal over 4 years. it may take that long for Atlanta to be competitive once again.
Atlanta also received a competitive A balance pick and Minor Leaguer Jordan Paroubeck in the Kimbrel deal. Adding Melvin Upton JR. in that deal was a huge boon to the financial resources.
The Catchers of the club in 2016 will be Tyler Flowers and A.J. Pierzynski. The two both worked in Chicago a few years ago for the White Sox. Flowers was signed for 2 years, and will have a chance to be with the club beyond 2016, at least for one more year.
Certainly the club adding Erick Aybar for a one year stop-gap in the Simmons deal was not enough for the long – term. However freeing up $40 MIL aggregate in the process may prove to be cerebral.
Aybar is in Atlanta for 2016 before becoming a Free Agent. He could just be place holding for a year before Dansby Swanson may come up to the club to man the position.
Atlanta also dumped as much payroll as the possibly could with jettisoning Bronson Arroyo, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan and Alex Wood for another competitive balance pick. Paco Rodriguez and Hector Olivera.
Despite all of the early hot stove talk on Freddie Freeman, (he is signed to a decent sum of cash at 6 YRs/$118 MIL left on his extension), the organization could retain his services – and he could spearhead the rebuilding process with a core piece.
The staff is still anchored by Julio Teheran. He will just be 25 years old next year, and he is under team control until 2020. This bodes well for them to have a Starter for the next 5 campaigns. Teheran will earn just $28.6 MIL in that time frame.
Crazily enough the squad this year will have a payroll nearing the $100 MIL mark, but that has more to do with the Swisher and Bourn deals being added as placeholders for one year. These guys are anemic offensive threats now – and may not see starting duties in 2016.
The Braves will surely lose way above 90 games in 2016 – and I project them to be near 100 before the year is out. Any veteran with any success should be traded halfway through the year. Atlanta should have a tough year in attendance at Turner Field this upcoming season.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***
I am happy to be back at the helm of the MLB Reports, after completing my record 224 Games in the MLB Trip in 2015. It was the 4th time I have seen all 30 MLB Parks since 2008.
During that time away I was fortunate to do 100 Media Interviews and be named the Baseball Blogger Alliance President.
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