Just doing a little daydreaming on the eve of Hot Stove season, and expanding on some minor moves suggested by the guys on XM’s Inside Pitch (Casey Stern and Brad Lidge) this afternoon. After they both pushed the long-rumored trade for Brian McCann, they went on to say that they thought signing Justin Turner would be a great move (even though he was given a Qualifying Offer by the Dodgers today). After pondering the fact that the Braves’ first round pick next summer is protected and dreaming on how much those moves would further improve Atlanta’s offense, I can’t say that I’d disagree.
Of course if John Coppolella & Company would consider giving up a draft pick and something of value to add that kind of offense, you have to imagine that they’d go even further and try to put a truly competitive team on the field to open Suntrust Park next spring, so they’d have to go even further – but could that be done without mortgaging the future???
I think it could, and here’s how…
Transaction One: Trade Lucas Sims and Tyrell Jenkins to the Yankees for former Brave McCann and $14 million.
This would give the Braves a very strong catching tandem of Mac and Tyler Flowers for the next two years. Both backstops have pop and handle pitchers well, and perhaps most importantly are above-average pitch-framers.
Transaction Two: Sign Turner for 5 years and $85 million.
Turner would bridge the gap to the Braves’ 3B candidates that are further away and would settle any concerns about that position being productive for some time. Assuming Austin Riley is ready before Turner’s deal was up, he could be a candidate to move to an OF corner once Nick Markakis and Matt Kemp become free-agents. Given that there are questions about whether he is entirely suited to handle 3B defensively (according to some reports), five years should be more than enough time for Kevin Maitan to progress through the system without being rushed. The numbers for Turner’s contract were proposed by the gang at MLBTR (Tim Dierkes, Steve Adams, and Jeff Todd) in their recent 2016-17 MLB Free-Agents With Predictions piece – where they also mentioned Atlanta as a potential suitor for his services in case the Dodgers blink.
Transaction Three: Sign Jason Hammel for 3 years and $42 million.
Hammel would give the Braves one veteran starter to pair with Julio Teheran at the top of the rotation to help ease the pressure on Mike Foltynewicz and Matt Wisler to be important rotation pieces before they’re “ready”. The numbers for Hammel’s contract were proposed by the gang at MLBTR (Tim Dierkes, Steve Adams, and Jeff Todd) in their recent 2016-17 MLB Free-Agents With Predictions piece. While those numbers are certainly affordable, I’d much prefer offering him $15 million per for 2017 and 2018 with a 2019 team option for $15 million to provide better financial flexibility in the final year in the event none of the arms at the lower levels are quite ready when he becomes a free-agent. If some of the younger arms develop even close to hopes, the Braves could simply say “thank you” and use that money for extensions for young players.
Transaction Four: Trade Travis Deneritte and Rio Ruiz to the Rays for Drew Smyly.
Smyly would not only give Atlanta another strong veteran option in the middle of the rotation, he’d also be that lefty that’s missing. He’s under control for the next two seasons, and would buy time for Sean Newcomb to advance at his own pace. With Turner, Jace Peterson, and Ozzie Albies on board, both Demeritte and Ruiz would be somewhat “expendable” and would not only provide Tampa Bay a couple of bats with upside for one of their SPs that is somewhat “expendable”, they would also save them Smyly’s projected $6.9 million salary in 2017.
These moves would then make the 2017 and 2018 versions of the Braves look like…
With a rotation consisting of…
Julio Teheran, Jason Hammel, Drew Smyly, Mike Foltynewicz, and Matt Wisler (with Aaron Blair, Sean Newcomb, John Gant, Williams Perez, and Chris Ellis in Gwinnett and Josh Collmenter as a swingman if needed)
A pen with…
Jim Johnson, Arodys Vizcaino, Ian Krol, Mauricio Cabrera, Jose Ramirez, Chris Withrow, Shae Simmons, and Paco Rodriguez or A. J. Minter as other options as a second lefty
And a flexible bench with McCann/Flowers, Mallex Smith, Adonis Garcia, and a potential return of Chase d’Arnaud or even Kelly Johnson in a “super sub” role.
That’s actually a roster that could potentially make a little noise for the next couple seasons while the Braves await the arrival of the high-end arms that would remain in the system (Kolby Allard/Max Fried/Touki Toussaint/Mike Soroka/Ian Anderson/Joey Wentz/Kyle Muller).