- It’s much easier to fill a LF vacancy than one at third base. Unfortunately, the Braves now need the latter after announcing Hector Olivera will move to the outfield in 2016. The move raises the bar for Olivera: .270–15-65 would be decent numbers for a third sacker but look less impressive in LF.
- So who plays 3B? Adonis Garcia, who committed 10 errors in 42 games at the hot corner for Atlanta, is even more defensively challenged than Hector. The free agent market for third basemen is very thin — defensively limited 33-year-old David Freese is the cream of a crop that includes the likes of Casey McGehee, Gordon Beckham and the immortal Alberto Callaspo. Don’t be surprised to see Juan Uribe return. A trade for Martin Prado, a free agent after next season, is another possibility. I’ll believe Rio Ruiz is a potential solution when he puts up an OPS better than .657.
- The move of Olivera to the OF will make it more difficult for Mallex Smith to open the year in Atlanta. Barring a trade of Maybin or an outright release of Swisher or Bourn (less likely), the outfield is filled to capacity.
- So forget about Alex Gordon. Or any of the top free agents. I guess Scott Boras client Matt Wieters is a possibility, but he’ll cost a second round draft pick and likely more money and more years than he’s worth. He turns 30 in May and has played just 101 games the last two years. Mark Bowman reports the Braves are more likely to sign 32-year-old Chris Iannetta, who hit .188 last year for the Angels.
- The 2016-17 free agent class, led by Stephen Strasburg and Carlos Gomez, is decidedly underwhelming, in case you’re thinking one year ahead,
- Will Fredi ever get fired? Bowman, his his latest mailbag, says team execs “have continued to say they hope Gonzalez remains their manager for many years to come.” But, he adds, “If the Braves were to reach a point where they were looking for a different manager, Mark DeRosa will likely be one of the top candidates.” DeRo as manager? I’m intrigued.