With Hanson gone, it’s unlikely the Braves will deal Teheran or Delgado. So they appear set to import another free agent to fill the void in LF — ideally, a player who can lead off — instead of pursing a trade.
Enter Shane Victorino. The switch hitter, who turned 32 today, is a plus defender, accomplished base stealer (39 SB in 2012, a career best) and he doesn’t strike out a lot, averaging 75 K’s a year. Then there’s his .333 BA and .883 OPS in 60 games at The Ted.
FW could probably sign him for three years and $24-to-$27 million. There are some drawbacks to signing Victorino, notably his .320 career OBP when batting first, but I doubt the Braves can do much better at this point.
The good, the bad and what this means for 2013.
- Jim Bowden likes the move. That’s worrisome.
- Upton whiffs. A lot. But so did Michael Bourn. Upton is not Bourn’s equal as a defender, but he ain’t bad.
- Speaking of Bourn, he’s not coming back.
- Upton will be 33 when his contract ends. Derek Lowe was 36 when he signed with the Braves.
- Nick Swisher won’t be house-hunting in Atlanta. Be thankful.
- Unlike Swisher, Upton (7 HR, 18 RBI and 9 SB in 25 postseason games) delivers in October.
- Bossman Jr., who had a career-worst .298 OBP in 2012, won’t hit lead-off. FW has already said as much.
- Most batters show more patience as they age. Not Upton. In his first full season with the Rays (his best), Upton posted a .386 OBP.
- Conversely, Upton’s power has risen every year since 2008.
- So who bats lead-off? Shane Victornio?? Not likely.
- Don’t expect any other major free agent signings, since FW has an estimated $10 million left in the kitty. Besides, they can do better.
- Trade candidates include the usual suspects: Denard Span and Dexter Fowler. Coco Crisp is another possibility, as he appears to be the odd man out of the A’s outfield after the Chris Young acquisition.
- I’d keep the phone lines open with our old pal Dayton. Wil Myers may be wishful thinking, but Alex Gordon, signed through 2015, has surfaced in trade rumors. He has a .373 OBP, 96 doubles and 37 homers since 2011, mostly out of the lead-off spot. Gordon has three years and $31.5 million remaining on his contract with a team option in 2016, so the Braves can afford him. Barely. A package including Julio Teheran and Nick Ahmed might do it.
- Bet on Span. The Twins need what the Braves have — pitching, and Span is signed for two more years with a team option in 2015.
Projected 2013 line-up:
- Jay Hey
I can live with that.
According to Bowman, they hoped to sign Justin’s older brother and Torii Hunter, who went to Detroit instead. B.J. Upton is still available and no free agent has more potential.
He’s not quite as fast as Bourn, or as good defensively, but he’s above average. Offensively, he’s a mixed bag. His 28 HR in 2012 were a career best, but his OBP was a career worst .298. Strange, since the 29-year-old had two seasons early in his career with OBP’s above .380.
Still, I’ll take him over Cody Ross or Victorino.