Fred and I have nearly exhausted all the outfield and third base options on the market, but they are not the only players capable of filling the positions. The last time the LF spot was open, two winters ago, the Braves traded for Dan Uggla, moving then-second baseman Martin Prado to LF. There are a few quality infielders who could change positions to help the Braves fill their lineup.
The Brewers have their fair share of outfielders and first basemen on the big league roster. If they decide to go after a couple starting pitchers, I could see Corey Hart become available. With one year and $10M left on his contract, the newly-converted first baseman could head back to the outfield. He has been very consistent the past three seasons, hitting .279/.343/.514 since 2010. The plate discipline is iffy and the speed is fading, but he would provide a good RH power bat at a decent cost. The biggest problem is that the Brewers farm system is also less-than-ideal and pitching heavy, so they would probably need the main return to be a big-league pitcher, probably Randall Delgado.
Despite last year’s awful record, the Astros do have a quality trade piece available in Jed Lowrie. He played exclusively at shortstop last year, but he has experience at third base, which could leave Prado in the outfield. The long list of injuries is a concern, but when healthy, he has been a good right-handed hitter, so much so that he may be better off giving up hitting left-handed. He started arbitration last season, so he would have two more years of team control, likely not surpassing $7M total. His plate discipline has been decent, but he will never hit for a high average, due to his extreme flyball tendencies.
If the Braves decide to overpay for B.J. Upton, they could find a cheap option on the free agent market in our old friend Kelly Johnson. After a career year in 2010 with Arizona, the strikeouts have ballooned for Johnson, leaving him unlikely to find a starting job for next year. With the Braves, Johnson played a good left field his rookie season and made much better contact. While the Braves don’t need another left-handed bat, he has actually hit lefties slightly better in his career. I will say that this is not the greatest option, but if everything else falls through, it isn’t a bad last resort.
There is also the possibility that Uggla could end up moving positions, but I’m not sure if that would be beneficial. Throwing accuracy is probably his biggest deficiency, and that would be exploited moving to third base. He might be able to play an adequate left field, as he does possess more speed than most people believe. I would prefer to see a deal for Hart before any of these other moves, but I think any of these moves would be better than giving Jonny Gomes $10M for two years, as Boston did.