Early Thursday morning, a Braves announced John Hart has been named their boss of ball operations. He assimilated a group as a comparison confidant final year and had been behaving as a halt GM after Frank Wren was let go final month. Hart recently incited down a full-time GM job.
The Braves went 79-83 this past deteriorate and finished a whopping 17 games behind of a Nationals in a NL East. They scored a second-fewest runs in ball (573) and their group OPS+ (87) was a fourth misfortune in a game. Only a Padres (85 OPS+), Reds (86 OPS+) and Phillies (86 OPS+) were worse.
So, now that Hart is strictly on house full-time — “president of ball operations” is a comparatively new front bureau fad, with a Cubs (Theo Epstein) and Dodgers (Andrew Friedman) bringing in gifted ex-GMs like Hart to manage things — a group can get to work this offseason. Here’s a demeanour during what’s on their plate.
1. Hire a new GM: First things first, a group does still need a new GM. Hart is a de facto GM during a impulse yet his new purpose will be some-more advisory than anything. Atlanta has a processed GM claimant in rarely regarded partner GM John Coppolella, an analytics-savvy executive with a scouting background. More than a few people are wondering because he hasn’t been given a GM pursuit already, myself included.
Either way, Coppolella or someone else, a Braves need to finalize their new front bureau and move in a permanent GM. Getting Hart in place as a boss of ball operations was a start. There’s usually one final square square of a decision-making nonplus missing.
2. Justin Upton or Jason Heyward? Along with Freddie Freeman, Upton and Heyward are dual of a team’s best players. Upton is a improved hitter (132 OPS+ vs. 108) yet Heyward is a improved defender and some-more well-rounded actor (6.3 vs. 3.3 WAR). They’re both immature — Upton is 27, Heyward is 25 — and should be deliberate cornerstone players.
The Braves, however, have a notoriously parsimonious bill and both Upton and Heyward are due to turn giveaway agents after subsequent season. They’re both in line for $100 million-plus contracts and it’s really doubtful Atlanta will be means to means both long-term, during slightest yet a estimable payroll increase. They do have a new track set to open in 2017, so maybe a payroll boost isn’t out of a question. There haven’t been any signs one is on a way.
If signing both Upton and Heyward long-term is truly off a table, a Braves should demeanour to trade one and extend a other this offseason. (Heyward sealed a two-year understanding final winter, an denote he is passed set on contrast giveaway agency.) The choice is gripping both, perplexing to win with them in 2015 (very viable, of course), and afterwards losing one or potentially both with zero yet a breeze collect in lapse subsequent winter.
Given their ages and production, Atlanta would have no difficulty removing a package of mixed immature players in lapse for presumably Upton or Heyward even yet they’re usually a year divided from giveaway agency. How most would a Tigers give adult to hang presumably actor in right field, for instance? The Giants? Rangers? Yankees? Teams would line adult for a shot during these two. This offseason is a time for a Braves to establish how they will ensue going forward.
3. Get some pitching: The Braves will presumably remove Ervin Santana to giveaway group and a uncommonly replaceable Aaron Harang will be a giveaway representative as well. That’s two-fifths of a revolution walking out a door. Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and Alex Wood will sojourn with David Hale another option.
Both Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy will lapse from their second career Tommy John surgeries subsequent deteriorate yet it’s really tough to count on them. The second Tommy John medicine has a most reduce success rate than a first, so Atlanta will have to acquire some pitching abyss to strengthen themselves.
If Medlen and/or Beachy come behind clever and representation good in 2015, great. They can’t devise on that though. Adding pitching abyss is a contingency this winter.
4. Improve a plantation system: This is some-more of a long-term idea yet it starts this offseason, presumably with an Upton or Heyward trade. The Braves came into a deteriorate with a fifth-worst plantation complement in baseball, according to Baseball America, mostly due to a new run of underwhelming (or forfeited) first-round picks.
Given their payroll limitations, carrying a clever complement means of producing inexpensive players is a prerequisite to sojourn in contention. The Braves have constructed an considerable collection of talent a past few years, highlighted by Teheran, Freeman, Heyward, Minor, Wood, Craig Kimbrel and Andrelton Simmons, yet a good has dusty adult a bit. Rebuilding that awaiting core is a must.
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If it was during all possible, trade B.J. Upton would be enclosed on this list. The Cubs already incited down an Upton for Edwin Jackson offer, and it seems like a usually approach a Braves will be means to unpack a elder Upton is in a barter of bad contracts. That’s usually one headache for another. Maybe a Dodgers (Andre Ethier?) or Angels (Josh Hamilton?) or Indians (Nick Swisher?) would have interest. we usually can’t see it.
This offseason is a really critical one for a Braves. They’re not usually looking to get behind to row in 2015, yet they contingency also lay a substructure for a contending group in 2017, when their new ballpark opens.