Buster Olney suggested last week that the Braves might pounce on one of the remaining free agents if the price drops to their liking. With a payroll projected just south of $80 million, about $25 mil short of where it’s been in recent years, they can afford it.
It won’t cost the Braves a first round draft pick, due to their ranking among MLB’s 10 worst teams a year ago.
One player will not make them contenders in 2016, but if they plan on being relevant in 2017 now might be the time to strike, as next year’s free agent class is weak.
Yoenis Cespedes makes the most sense, giving the Braves a right-handed bat who plays a solid LF. He would also take the pressure off Hector Olivera, though the Dodgers import would have to return to 3B. Suddenly the line-up doesn’t look so bad:
Inciarte, Markakis, Freeman, Cespedes, Olivera, Pierzynski, Aybar, Peterson
Cespedes has flaws — he strikes out a lot and rarely walks — but he’s a proven power bat (career .486 slugging percentage) who’s avoided injury and, as he showed with the Mets, can carry a team on his back.
If they could get him for, say, five years and $100 mil, I’d do it, although I doubt the Braves will.