Patience Really IS A Virtue

So I’ve been hearing from a lot of Braves’ fans recently who say they’re still amazed that the team’s brass still contends that the team can be competitive, and much sooner than many people think. John Schuerholz was quoted as saying that could even be as early as late-2016, and that could be accomplished WITHOUT altering “The Plan”.

Is that REALLY out of the question??? I certainly don’t believe so. The current MLB payroll stands at ~$95 million, leaving somewhere in the neighborhood of $20-$25 million to spend without expanding the budget if the $120 million max figure John Hart referenced last winter is truly the cap. This winter’s free-agent market has collapsed for several useful pieces the organization could bring in on short-term deals that could both substantially improve the big club’s roster AND leave clear paths to playing time for the impressive youngsters when they’re “ready”.

“Yeah, sure.” many will say, but it really isn’t out of the realm of possibility IF “The Johns” really wanted to be more relevant, and here’s a few ideas about how…

1.) Sign hometown product Dexter Fowler for 1 year and $9 million. Fowler provides yet another high OBP threat with a little pop and some speed. The switch-hitter would simultaneously lengthen the lineup and improve the OF defense. With the Mets on the verge of re-signing Yoenis Cespedes (and having to deal with his questionable – at best – CF defense) and the Cubs apparently set on playing Jason Heyward in CF, there aren’t any obvious fits elsewhere. Dexter still works out with players in Atlanta during the winters, and he’d potentially be a big boost. A Fowler signing would allow the Braves to move Nick Markakis to LF where his arm plays much better these days and slide defensive whiz Ender Inciarte over to RF. The one-year commitment also gives the team the flexibility to trade Inciarte IF it gets the offer it’s been fishing for without blocking CF prospect Mallex Smith.

2.) Sign Ian Desmond for 2 years and $15 million. Desmond could play 2B in 2016 and slide over to replace Erick Aybar at SS in 2017. Desmond would provide right-handed pop to “protect” Freddie Freeman for the next two seasons, and most importantly wouldn’t be very expensive in the event the organization’s middle infield of the future forced their way onto the roster before Opening Day 2018. It would also buy Dansby Swanson and Ozhaino Albies two full years of development together as a double-play combination.

3.) Sign Mat Latos for 1 year and $5 million plus some reachable incentives.  Latos is a once “Ace In Waiting” who’s lost his way. Signing him would provide the flexibility to manipulate the clocks of many of the “Young Guns”, helping to make them more affordable in future seasons and allowing them to polish some of the finishing touches many young Pitchers need to work on before they’re truly finished products. If Roger McDowell is able to somehow help Latos find his form before the trade deadline, you’ve got another attractive trade chip to go with Inciarte, Fowler, Markakis, Desmond, Aybar and Jason Grilli when contenders scramble to make a push down the stretch.

Yes, signing Fowler and Desmond would cost two early picks, but doing so would SIGNIFICANTLY make the team better for the next two years. With the #3 overall pick protected and the young talent the organization expects to acquire when it goes on an international spending spree on July 2nd, could there EVER be a better time to give up those picks?

 

Opening Day 2016 Roster:

RF- Inciarte (LH) – .335 Projected OBP with 17 SBs,

CF- Fowler (Switch) – .351 Projected OBP with 15 SBs

1B- Freeman (LH) – .377 Projected OBP with 17 HRs

2B- Desmond (RH) – 19 HRs with 15 SBs

C- Pierzynski (LH)

3B- Hector Olivera (RH)

LF- Markakis (LH) – Projected .342 OBP

SS- Aybar (Switch)

 

Bench: C- Tyler Flowers (RH), 2B/SS- Jace Peterson (LH), 3B/LF/1B- Adonis Garcia (RH), CF- Michael Bourn (LH), RF/LF/1B- Nick Swisher (Switch)

Rotation: Julio Teheran (RH), Latos (RH), Bud Norris (RH), Manny Banuelos (LH – out of options),  Matt Wisler (RH)

 

The Gwinnett rotation then becomes…

Mike Foltynewicz (RH), Aaron Blair (RH), Tyrell Jenkins (RH), Lucas Sims (RH), Ryan Weber (RH)

That’s five starters who should ALL be “ready” by the time the deadline rolls around – if Latos or Norris happen to be traded BEFORE June 1st, you give Folty his last shot as a SP or give Weber the call to replace them since their clocks have already started.

We “know” the Cubs would love to land Inciarte so they could slide Heyward over to his natural position in RF. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear that “The Johns” are SO smitten with Jorge Soler that they’re willing to swap Ender for him, his questionable defense, and his HIGH strikeout rate – or Soler would likely already be penciled in as the Braves’ Opening day RF. For that, they receive a big thank you from me. I don’t mean to suggest that Inciarte’s “off limits” by any stretch, only that I want something other than just Soler (or Javier Baez) for him. If Theo and Jed wanted Inciarte badly enough to part with Willson Contreras and one of Eloy Jimenez or Jeimer Candelario for him, I’d buy Ender’s plane ticket to Chicago and pay his cab fare to get to Wrigley. Otherwise I’ll keep him, thank you very much. If they decided they wanted Fowler for  Soler or Baez, then we’d also have something to talk about.

 

Post-Deadline 2016 Roster:

CF- Smith, RF- Inciarte, 1B- Freeman, LF- Soler, C-Pierzynski, 2B- Desmond,   3B- Olivera, SS- Aybar

Rotation: Teheran, Blair, Banuelos, Wisler, Folty/Jenkins/Sims

*** Fowler traded for Soler. Markakis, Latos, and Norris traded for  the best prospect offers you get or international bonus slots. You’d then STILL be in position to trade Inciarte for prospects NEXT winter.

 

Is this a different direction than where “The Plan” appears to be going? A bit, but not entirely. The Braves were lurking in the shadows for Cespedes in case they could get a bargain. While he wouldn’t have cost a draft pick, a “bargain” rate for him could conceivably land the Braves THREE players that would start right away. If the call were mine to make, I’d have no reservations about signing Fowler, Desmond, and Latos inexpensively and gambling that I could recoup the value of AT LEAST one of those Top 100 draft picks before their contracts were up.

 

Advertisements

3 responses to “Patience Really IS A Virtue

  1. Sorry dude… I usually like this blog but this makes absolutely no sense, even if the team really does have that much to spend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s no doubt it would appear to be outside the box on the surface. The signings would be geared toward being more competitive in the near-term, but they’d also be to acquire currently undervalued assets that they would consider moving at any point they received good offers so they could continue stockpiling prospects/picks/ and international signing slots.

    For instance – say the Angels don’t sign another OF. We’ve pretty much cleaned their system out, but they’re one of the many teams that isn’t allowed to sign any international players for over $300,000. They’d provide a potential landing spot for Markakis if Mallex Smith proves ready during the first half.

    The same would be true for Fowler. If the Cubs eventually decide they’re going to move Heyward back to RF, they’re unable to play on the international market as well. Trading them Dexter for Eloy Jimenez or Candelario and bonus slots could make sense for both sides.

    Desmond and Latos would be lottery tickets, no doubt. They could bring a huge return if they were playing/pitching well. Even if they aren’t you could move them for bonus slots when injuries pop up for contenders. The main plus in signing them would be delaying the arrival of Blair, Swanson, and Albies – an extra year of control over them would save millions in the long run.

    Like

  3. I want the Braves this coming off season to go after Adrian Beltre and Fransisco Cervelli for everyday players and then trade for James a Shields or sign Jake Peavy to help solidify the rotation. Of course we would have to over pay for Beltre but I am ok with that with him holding down 3B til Riley is ready.
    LINE UP
    1. Mallex CF
    2. Swanson SS
    3. Freeman 1B
    4. Beltre 3B
    5. Markakis RF
    6. Olivera/Inciarte LF
    7. Cervelli C
    8. Albies 2B
    ROTATION
    1. Teahran
    2. Peavy/Shields
    3. Wisler
    4. Blair
    5. Folty
    BULLPEN
    1. Grilli RHP
    2. Withrow RHP
    3. Simmons RHP
    4. Winkler RHP
    5. Gant RHP
    6. Paco LHP
    7. ManBan LHP
    BENCH
    1. Flowers C
    2. Jace SS/3B/2B
    3. Garcia 3B/LF
    4. Moore 1B/OF
    5. Inciarte/Olivera OF

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s