2016 State Of The NL East: Atlanta Braves
How would you grade the Braves’ offseason?
Alan: B+. That grade might sound a bit low, given most reports, but there are some reasons behind it.
If we were to go solely on the infamous Shelby Miller deal, then it’s obvious that GM John Coppolella gets an A++ with extra credit for an Advanced Placement course. That trade is already looking crazily unbalanced in favor of the Braves. How much so? Enough to make us forget about a history that includes Mark Teixeira or Adam Wainwright.
However, there was more. The jury will be out on the Andrelton Simmons deal for a while. Erick Aybar should fill the SS position well and might ultimately bring in another prospect by July. The question is whether Sean Newcomb develops into the stud horse that he’s advertised as. If so, then it’s a fair trade…but probably still not a great trade. I am in a camp that believes this trade did not need to be made – certainly not this season. It does throw open the door for Swanson or Albies, but note that this trade came before the Miller/Swanson deal and in our wildest dreams, that deal certainly could not have been anticipated.
The Cameron Maybin trade was all about salary relief – and good on Coppy to get that done early, for the Tigers probably regret that now. More about salary relief later.
In addition, Coppolella brought in Bud Norris, Jhoulys Chacin, Kyle Kendrick, Alexi Ogando, and others to fill out the 2016 rotation and bridge the Braves until the ‘kids’ are ready to take over. So far, that’s looking iffy at best.
There was also additional preparation for the future.
Atlanta has intentionally lowered payroll for this season… and there might still be more to go on that front. The Braves are making the most of their draft position (3rd overall come June) and gearing up big time. The focus will be on International talent, with a very large expenditure expected that will set up Atlanta with a second-to-none farm system for probably the next 3-6 years. I would anticipate them landing their own first round pick in the regular draft, plus 3-5 International players that should be the equivalent of additional first round selections. It’s an “all in” bid to set up the franchise for the next decade.
So the off-season is a 2-part answer: A+ for the future; C for the present. To the extent that we know that the Braves are in the mode of a full-on rebuild for the future, the A+ gets weighed much more heavily.
Next: Pressure on Fredi Gonzalez?