Atlanta Braves and the Winter Meetings Day 2: rumors are increasing

What Day 2 in San Diego lacked in terms of impact news was made up for by a lot of chatter about multiple players on the Atlanta Braves’ short list.

It’s hard to tell what’s really going on at the Winter Meetings right now:  a job fair in which the Atlanta Braves and other clubs and trying to be the most attractive employer… or perhaps it’s just clubs ‘marking territory’ in the hopes of keeping their chosen prizes inside their backyards.

Either way, it’s been a day in which most every contending team has expressed some sort of interest in most every interesting free agent still available… while also noting what their secondary and tertiary plans might consist of.

Let’s hit the latest rumor first, because it says a lot about the state of affairs with the Atlanta Braves:

Right now, the big battles are on 2 fronts:  Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon.

Teams lining up to pay Cole:  Yankees, Angels, Dodgers are at the fore… Astros?  Giants?  Mystery teams (White Sox?).

There was a trade today:  the Angels sent Zack Cozart and a prospect to the Giants… they pick up all of Cozart’s $12 million salary for 2020.

Teams lining up to pay Rendon:  Nationals, Angels, Rangers, Dodgers.  The Braves have ‘checked in’.  Agent Scott Boras suggests that all clubs involved are at the 7 year level on him.

Teams lining up to pay Donaldson:  All of the above, plus Atlanta, the Cardinals, the Twins, possibly Milwaukee.

Having signed Didi Gregorius on Tuesday, Philadelphia is now ‘out’ on third base options… and possibly every other free agent, owing to their proximity to the luxury tax threshold and multiple additional off-season needs.

More about Rendon

As noted earlier, there’s a rumor out that the Atlanta Braves ‘checked in’ on Rendon.  Jon Heyward’s original tweet about this was slightly cagey.

His phrasing included Initial read: waters “a tad deep”.  There are a couple of ways to interpret this:

  • Heyman’s source said something like “The Braves think he’s too expensive for them”
  • Heyman himself is thinking “I gotta think he’d be too expensive for that team”

Normally, reporters should never inject their own interpretations into reports like this… but they have been trying to read various tea-leaves to get a better read themselves on the landscape.

Here is one such thing from Heyman – note the guess he inserts at the end:

In this case (back to Rendon), the quotation marks would seem to indicate that he got that from his source – probably a member of the Boras Corporation.

However, if the Boras Corp. is consistent about anything, it would be that any team expressing interest in one of their high profile clients needs to be in the loop:  the more the merrier.

By doing so, he can play one off on another… and thus it wouldn’t normally make sense to see him slough off Atlanta in such a manner.  Why even mention them at all, then?

Note that I’m not trying to gin-up a story here:  the odds that the Braves are seriously going after Rendon are next-to-none.

Instead, there may be another story forming here:

What is evident is that the Braves really do want a ‘big bat’ in the middle of their lineup, and it appears that their better choices may be slipping away… making them inquire where they might not normally inquire:

  • Donaldson:  too many players for him, 4 year deal looking highly likely… with high dollars.
  • Rendon:  years and dollars to high to comprehend
  • Marcel Ozuna:  getting a second rumor mention in the past couple of weeks… this one from a well-respected source.

We haven’t heard anything linking the Braves and Nick Castellanos yet, but he would be the next ‘big bat’ option after Ozuna.

Observation #2

Note the common thread about all of the above:  everything there requires a free agent signing.

Thus far, every significant trade rumor we’ve seen (for any clubs) involves Team A seeking premium Player X from Team B.  Team B is asking for the moon and a couple of stars.

Here’s an example (this one also more-or-less confirmed by Heyman):

Here’s the point:  trades are going to be very expensive (in terms of prospects) and difficult to complete.

It seems that the Braves may have to resort to overpays or other creative means to get that big bat they crave.  But right now, it’s Free Agency or bust:

That doesn’t mean trades won’t be doable… just that the prices are going to hurt.  A lot.


Other Notes

For those having thoughts that perhaps the Braves might try and trade Ender Inciarte – for either salary relief or as part of a big trade deal (yours truly included), this quote today would seem to put a damper on that idea:

Sure – it doesn’t preclude a trade later, but normally one wouldn’t be making such a statement for someone actively on the trading block.



Okay, not headline grabbing, but certainly of interest to Ortega and his family.

Next: (Maybe) Strasburg's signing helps?

Things are definitely picking up in tempo.. Wednesday is the last full day of the Winter Meetings.  We’re waiting on the Big 3 to sign… Cole will likely be first, and then the dominoes will start to fall – one by one.