At the time of writing this, it is January 20th and yet we still have no concrete answer as to whether or not the National League will carry on with the DH rule it used in the shortened 2020 season, and the same rule that most expect will be added to the upcoming bargaining agreement.
It is really an unfortunate thing for NL teams as it has put them in a bind and limited their potential for a few trade options and free agent players who would become of bigger interest to a team like the Atlanta Braves who as we all know is in search and need of a big time middle of the order bat.
Late Tuesday evening, the Toronto Blue Jays signed arguably the best hitter on the market when they signed George Springer (they have since added Michael Brantley as well). Every indication is the marker is about to pick up and players will start signing contracts and finding a home over these next few weeks before Spring Training is scheduled to begin.
The Atlanta Braves have work to do still.
If you are like me, you expect the DH to still be around when opening day hits in a little over two months. If you are like me as well, you would be ok with signing Marcell Ozuna back even if there is no DH and you have to settle for one year of below average defense. The longer this goes on though, the odds of the reunion seem to be dwindling. After all, this Atlanta Braves front office has shied away from long term deals and has typically stayed away from inferior defenders.
Both of those sure make it seem like the Braves-Ozuna marriage will have been a short one.
Everyone is in agreement that the Braves must address the need of a cleanup hitter who can protect Freddie Freeman. No if’s, but’s, or questions about it should be asked.
If the DH rule does not come back in 2021, then the Atlanta Braves can most likely live with Austin Riley at either third or left field. It might not resonate with most, but I am still very skeptical on Riley at the major league level and the last thing I would want is to go into the 2021 season with him projected to be a middle of the order bat for the Braves.
So again, let’s assume the DH rule is coming back. That could very well open the door for a let’s say Nelson Cruz signing. At his age, he will most likely be signing a 1-year deal and we all know that could be right up AA’s alley. After all, it would be fun to watch him mash some home runs in Atlanta with Acuna, and Albies on base ahead of him.
That still leaves the question of another outfielder. Tons of options still on the market there as well with the likes of Eddie Rosario or one of the now extra outfields in Toronto.
The bottom line is despite the fact that we are steadily closing in on February, the Atlanta Braves have to find a couple bats to insert into the lineup if they want to closely duplicate last year’s offensive success.
Buckle up, because hopefully we will have some Atlanta Braves action here soon.