How to make the #Braves competitive in 2017: Buttressing the line-up

valbuena

At the start of the year the Braves line-up looked anemic. Now it projects as a potential asset. The Matt Kemp acquisition exceeded expectations and if he gets into shape this offseason I see no reason why the production we witnessed in the second half won’t continue. Even the Markakis deal doesn’t look so bad now. I wouldn’t be opposed to trading him but, as discussed in a previous post the Braves would be more likely to get the pitching they need by trading Mallex Smith.

Glaring holes persist in two spots: Catcher and third base. Some will argue that Adonis Garcia showed he was capable of holding the down the hot corner until Austin Riley’s arrival but I’m not sold on either player. Nor do I believe the Dodgers will let Justin Turner walk, so forget that option. Free agent Luis Valbuena is a much bigger threat against right-handers and is better with the glove. He ended 2017 with an OPS .100 points higher than Adonis, who would nonetheless form a decent platoon with Valbuena who is generally helpless versus southpaws.

At catcher I remain bullish on Wilson Ramos, even though he’s likely to miss the first few months of 2017. Because of his injury, the Nats are unlikely to give him a qualifying offer, which would’ve cost the Braves a first round draft pick. Sure, it’s doubtful he’d be much of a force  next season but realistically the Braves are at least a year away, probably two, from legitimate contention. Ramos just turned 29 so he’s still in his prime. I’d certainly take him over Matt Wieters, a year older and much less productive, and Brian McCann, who is on the downside of his career.

How’s this for a line-up?

Inciarte

Swanson

Freddie

Kemp

Markakis

Ramos

Valbuena/Garcia

Albies/Peterson

 

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