Some ideas on what the Braves should do this offseason, in order of priority.
Dump Fat Gimp. I suspect a team like the Royals would take him if the Braves paid most of his salary. If not, release the guy. I’d rather pay him not to be on the team than put up with another year of atrocious defense, undisciplined hitting and minimal effort.
It shouldn’t be either/or regarding Kemp and Markakis. Kemp has to go. I’d be fine with dealing Markakis, as well, but considering the team’s needs, and next year’s deep free agents class, the Braves are probably better off keeping Markakis, platooning him with Lane Adams. That assumes Adams, who bats right, can hit lefties better than he did last year (4-for-28).
Trade Folty to St. Louis for Jedd Gyorko. I’m not bullish on Folty, who appears to take two steps back for every step forward. Would you want him anywhere near the mound in a game that actually meant something? He still has some value, though he’ll lose it with another year like 2017. St. Louis could use him in the ‘pen, while Gyorko, coming off a career-best 3.6 WAR, provides value with the glove and bat. Last year’s .341 OBP was .46 points higher than his career average. At worst, he’d be a non-expensive placeholder for Austin Riley, who’s emerging as a better prospect than I (and many others) first assumed.
Sign two from a deep pool of free agent relievers (Jake McGee, Zach Duke, Tony Watson, Tommy Hunter, Juan Nicasio, Addison Reed, Hector Rondon, Anthony Swarzak, Luke Gregerson, Joe Smith, Steve Cishek, Bryan Shaw), then add a cheap starter like Mike Fiers or Annibal Sanchez for depth.
Trade for Chris Archer. Would Ian Anderson, Kolby Allard and Cristian Pache do it? If so, I’m in. It’s going to take that kind of package, perhaps more, to get Archer, who just turned 29 and is under contract for four more years at $34 million. By contrast, Tyler Chatwood, who’s undergone two Tommy John surgeries, just signed with the Cubs for three years and $38 million.
Here’s your Opening Day line-up (though Snitker would likely arrange differently):
vs. righties: Ozzie, Acuna, Freddie, Ender, Markakis, Gyorko, Flowers/Suzuki, Dansby
vs. lefties: Ozzie, Acuna, Freddie, Gyorko, Ender, Flowers/Suzuki, L. Adams, Dansby
Rotation: Archer, Teheran, Gohara, Newcomb, Fried/Sims/Fiers
Bullpen: Minter, Winkler, Arodys, Freeman, Ramirez, McGee, Hunter
Bench: TBD. If he could stay healthy, Stephen Drew wouldn’t be a bad add. Ryan Goins is another option. Adonis Garcia is not.
If the Braves had a manager who knew how to use a bullpen, I’d carry 13 pitchers. But Snitker isn’t that guy.