Justin Upton will be leaving, it’s just a matter of when. And Evan Gattis is not an outfielder, nor is he much of a catcher.
Accepting those realities leaves the Braves in a bind. They either can’t afford or don’t have a position for their only two sources of right-handed power. There are no prospects on the horizon, they have little to trade (save for their own right-handed hitters) and the Braves can’t compete financially for more established free agents.
That doesn’t mean they won’t have to overpay for Yasmani Tomas, probably a contract in line with B.J.’s 5-year, $75 million deal. A big risk, but Tomas, 24, has a much bigger upside and the Braves won’t have to surrender a compensatory draft pick. In 205 games in Cuba for the Havana Industriales, he hit 30 home runs with 104 runs batted and is considered to have above-average speed. But it’s the power that has teams salivating.
We’ve been persistent critics of B.J.’s contract, but here’s the difference. The Braves had options then (the Nats acquired Denard Span for a pitching prospect), and B.J. was already showing signs of regression (his OBP had dipped from .386 in 2007 to .298 in 2012). Tomas doesn’t have to be a superstar, but the potential is there. At this point, it’s the best the Braves can do.