After a surprising 90-72 season, the Braves will look to build a world series contender around their young core. With so much prospect depth and financial flexibility, they can realistically acquire anyone they desire.
Current State: World Series Contender
Braves sign 3B Josh Donaldson
The Braves have signed third baseman Josh Donaldson to a one year/$23 million deal. Donaldson, 32, dealt with several injuries last season. In just 52 games, he hit .246/.352/.449 with 8 home runs and compiled a 1.2 WAR. Before that season, he had a three year stretch with the Blue Jays where he averaged a .945 OPS and a 7.0 WAR. Obviously, Atlanta is hoping that Donaldson can regain that form this season, which is why they were willing to take a $23 million bet on him. Despite his struggles last season, Donaldson’s 41% hard contact rate suggests he’s still a lethal hitter, and he looked much better after being traded to the Indians. This trade sends Johan Camargo into a utility role, but he overperformed significantly last season, according to the metrics. He’s best suited for a utility role, while third base prospect Austin Riley is the future at the hot corner. Considering he’s probably a year away, signing Donaldson to be the bridge makes perfect sense. Atlanta has the financial flexibility and the depth with Camargo and Riley to take this risk. If this works out, the Braves will have one of the scariest lineups in all of baseball.
Braves sign C Brian McCann
The Braves have brought back catcher Brian McCann on a one year/$2 million deal. The 34 year old spent his first nine seasons in Atlanta, and was an All Star in seven of seasons. At this point of his career though, it’s unclear what McCann brings. He has averaged just a .719 OPS in his last five seasons, and was atrocious at the plate (.640 OPS) as well. He hasn’t made up for his offensive struggles defensively, as prior to last season he had put together three straight seasons with negative defensive runs saved. He’s a good clubhouse presence, but hopefully the Braves aren’t asking for him to be a platoon partner for Tyler Flowers if they plan on contending for a World Series next season.
Braves Sign OF Nick Markakis
The Braves have re-signed outfielder Nick Markakis to a one year deal worth $6 million. Markakis, 35, reached his first All Star game in what was one of his best seasons of his 13 year career, posting a .806 OPS and a 2.6 WAR, according to Baseball Reference. He did so by increasing his hard contact rate to 40.6%, decreasing his strikeout rate to 11.3%, and increasing his line drive rate to 26.6%. Now, Markakis did fall off in the second half, where he posted just a .701 OPS, but the only dramatic drop was a decrease in luck (.280 BABIP). I expect Markakis to have similar offensive production to 2018, while his defense (1 drs) remains at least at league average. That makes him an above average starter, and though Atlanta probably should have gone after younger, more attractive options earlier in the offseason, this is a great Plan B signing.
*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Braves Make
Stats Courtesy of Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, and Baseball Savant