Some business is being conducted at 755 Battery Avenue, but don't expect a lot this Fall until the Braves really know both what they are facing and who will be running the show.
The Atlanta Braves have made a few roster moves in the run-up before rosters must be set for the December Rule 5 draft, but that's about it thus far.
We had heard that the MLB investigation into Coppy's questionable practices was essentially over, and that any sanctions or penalties might be forthcoming as soon as today, but as it turns out, there are apparently a few more matters that investigators still wish to go over:
But it's worse than that: we had previously heard that John Coppolella has retained a lawyer to consider his options. Gordon Blakeley has now done likewise.
If nothing else, both of these men are trying to protect their own personal interests. Being thrown under the bus for this mess, their options for future employment in baseball have likely been tarnished forever.
But by hiring legal counsel, both are effectively making a frightening declaration: 'if we're going down, then we're bringing everybody else involved with us.'
Personally, I expect that the Braves will eventually have to come to some sort of settlement to avoid having their dirty laundry aired so publicly. But that's a matter that may take more months to resolve... even while we will have to wait longer for MLB to convene their own jury on the Braves' fate.
No Shopping Cart for You
In the meantime, though free agents are popping up all over this week... and the Braves are now watching the start of the shopping season from the parking lot until all of this is sorted.
Sure: John Hart is supposedly the interim GM right now. Technically, he could be out there sorting through team-building ideas and such.
But should the upper-level executives of the team even let him do that?
- Hart is at the end of his current contract.
- Hart may not be renewed - possibly due to his lack of oversight of Coppy; possibly because he might want to retire; possibly because the new GM - whoever he/she is - might demand full control with his help.
- Wouldn't it be in the best interests of the team to wait regardless and not taint the plans of an incoming executive?
So for all of those reasons, Hart may only be hanging around the office to do the 'necessary' GM operations... like answering the phone calls from his peers around the league, making these basic roster moves... basically just keeping the seat warm for now.
Furthermore, free agents themselves would probably like to know the direction of this team in the near future. Will they be making an attempt to be a strong contender soon? Will they be looking at filling roles for 3-, 4-, or 5 years? There's simply no way to know this yet.
All of this is exactly why the notion of MLB still continuing its investigation is so vexing. It paralyzes the Braves for this time of year in which real team building at the major league level is taking place.
As a result, I had to laugh when I saw this - MLBTR's top 50 free agents list, along with their projections of landing spots for each one.
But for the exercise, let's check what they suggested for Atlanta:
- #6: Mike Moustakas for 5 years and $85 million.
- The numbers are probably right. The destination could be off by around 2200 miles (Anaheim). I don't expect that Atlanta would even be in the mix.
Here's why (and I whole-heartedly agree with DOB on this one - especially given the Braves' current situation:
That sentiment clearly applies for (#17) Todd Frazier as well, though IF the Braves don't have enough confidence in either Rio Ruiz or Johan Camargo at the hot corner, then maybe the Toddfather might be of interest for a 1-year-plus-option deal while they assess Austin Riley.
Did I stick enough doubt into that sentence?
Of note: there has been ample opportunity to acquire Frazier for virtually nothing over the season year, and that didn't happen. Of course that was under Coppy's watch.
Or they could throw Riley to the wolves immediately and hand him the major league job. Not likely, but he's making an AFL run that's good enough to raise the possibility.
- #4: Jake Arrieta to the Brewers (4 years, $100 million). The Braves are listed with 10 other clubs as perhaps being 'in the mix'. But after last season's hiccups for Arrieta, I just don't see this. Lance Lynn (#9)? Yeah - I'd see that as a lot more plausible... but not Arrieta.
- #8: Wade Davis to the Astros (4 years, $60 million). Not sure this is the Astros' style, but confidence in closer Giles could be waning there. Of all the names mentioned by MLBTR, this is the one I could see happening... but probably not at that price level.
- #16: Addison Reed (Cubs, 4 years #36 million). Given the pitching youth movement that the Braves are embarking on, having a significant veteran presence in the bullpen has to be a priority.
- #41: Tommy Hunter (Braves; 2 years and #12 million). Did he really find something in 2017? If so, then sure - go after him for the bullpen. Having a 2.61 ERA in the AL East isn't a bad thing at all - but it's a career best and you'd have to ask 'why' a bit more deeply.
But with all of this, the team is still just marking time until the other cleat drops on this investigation.
Until then, not much is going to be happening.