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Offseason checklist: Braves’ needs and moves

@mlbbowman
November 14, 2019

ATLANTA -- Though the Braves have now won two consecutive National League East titles, their latest early exit from the postseason combined with the division-rival Nationals winning the World Series has only enhanced excitement about what they might do this offseason. So what are the Braves' biggest needs entering 2020,

ATLANTA -- Though the Braves have now won two consecutive National League East titles, their latest early exit from the postseason combined with the division-rival Nationals winning the World Series has only enhanced excitement about what they might do this offseason.

So what are the Braves' biggest needs entering 2020, and what moves have they made to address them? MLB.com is keeping track here. As the offseason continues, be sure to check back for updates.

BIGGEST NEEDS

Starting pitching
If the Braves are going to take that next step toward competing for a World Series, they need to acquire an experienced frontline starter to pair with Mike Soroka. Max Fried and Mike Foltynewicz have shown the potential to be a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter. But Foltynewicz’s inconsistencies paired with the youth of Soroka and Fried heightens the need to create more reliability at the front of the rotation. Madison Bumgarner and Zack Wheeler are potential free agent targets. The Braves could also pursue a depth piece like Wade Miley if they choose to decline Julio Teheran’s $12 million option.

5 questions facing the Braves this offseason

Power hitter
The primary desire is to re-sign Josh Donaldson and put him back in the cleanup spot. But if Donaldson opts to sign elsewhere, the Braves will definitely need to account for the significant presence he provided at the plate and with his glove at third base. Even if Donaldson were to return, there’s reason to argue there’s still a need to add somebody who could adequately fill the fifth spot on a daily basis. But manager Brian Snitker would at least have the option to bat Dansby Swanson second and move Ozzie Albies to the fifth spot if necessary.

Looking ahead to Braves' potential 2020 roster

Catcher
With Brian McCann retired and none of their prospects ready to fill a regular role at the big league level, the Braves are expected to exercise Tyler Flowers’ $6 million option. Their attempt to pair somebody with Flowers will likely begin with their pursuit of Yasmani Grandal, who should garner significant demand given the lack of quality backstop options on this year’s free-agent market. If Grandal signs elsewhere, Atlanta may need to explore the trade market for a catcher.

MOVES MADE

Nov. 14: Donaldson rejects qualifying offer
As expected, Josh Donaldson rejected the Braves' one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer, making him a free agent. He can still return to the Braves, but if he signs elsewhere, Atlanta will receive Draft pick compensation in 2020. More >

Nov. 14: Will Smith signs 3-year deal
Adding yet another veteran reliever, the Braves signed left-hander Will Smith to a three-year, $40 million deal that includes a $13 million option ($1 million buyout) for 2023. Because Smith, a 2019 All-Star with the Giants, rejected San Francisco's qualifying offer, Atlanta will lose a 2020 Draft pick. More >

Nov. 8: O'Day returns
The Braves re-signed right-handed reliever Darren O’Day to a one-year, $2.5 million deal that includes a $3.5 million option for 2021.

Nov. 4: Markakis, Flowers return; Donaldson gets QO
The Braves signed outfielder Nick Markakis and catcher Tyler Flowers to one-year contracts after declining both players’ team options for 2020. The club also declined righty Julio Teheran's team option for '20, declined a mutual option for outfielder Billy Hamilton and tendered third baseman Josh Donaldson a qualifying offer.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.