Scouring the OF market
There are options, and with Schafer and Gattis regressing and B.J. a non-factor, there’s no debating the need.
Some possibilities, in order of preference (all of the players on this list are in the last year of their contracts, unless otherwise noted):
Will Venable. Max’s son is having the finest season of his career, hitting .268 with 18 HR, 17 doubles, 7 triples and 14 steals. I’m not sure Venable has cleared waivers, or would, as he won’t be a free agent until 2016. We include him because he’s a left-handed hitting OF on a bad team. And the Braves have shown interest in him before.
Nate Schierholtz. Similar questions as Venable, re: waivers. Schierholtz won’t be a FA until 2015, and he’s a decent transitional player for a team in perpetual transition. The LH corner outfielder has been a major surprise this season: .273-19-61-.841 OPS.
Raul Ibanez. Forget that he’s 41 and mired in a major slump since the All-Star game. Ibanez still has 25 HR — 16 at Safeco, a notorious pitcher’s park. And he’s left-handed. Plus, he’s shown a knack for hitting in October.
Alejando De Aza. Merely competent, but that’s not such a bad thing. His .269-14-52, 16 SB line is on par with his his career numbers. He’ll be a FA in 2016.
Rajai Davis. You’d prefer a lead-off with a better OBP than .322, but the 32-year-old journeyman is a pest on the bases, stealing 40 bases in 44 opportunities. Those who dismiss the importance of speed must not have watched the ’03 World Series, when Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo made the Yankees look decrepit en route to the Marlins’ second world championship. Davis is hitting .272 this year and is, by reputation, solid with the glove.
Marlon Byrd. His career-best .860 OPS merits a higher ranking, but this list is about what the Braves need. And the Bravos have enough right-handed free swingers. But I’d take him.
Hunter Pence. Overrated. I’m with the stat geeks on this one.