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Offseason checklist: Braves’ needs and moves

@mlbbowman
January 22, 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,

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. That was accomplished on Dec. 3 when the club signed Cole Hamels to a one-year deal worth $18 million. Down the line, 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. The 36-year-old Hamels, who's posted a sub-4.00 ERA every season but one since 2009, fits that bill.

Power hitter
The primary desire was to re-sign Josh Donaldson and put him back in the cleanup spot, but the veteran slugger has agreed to a four-year deal with the Twins, per sources. Needing to account for the significant presence he provided at the plate and with his glove at third base, the Braves signed free-agent infielder Adeiny Hechavarría and signed free agent Marcell Ozuna to man left field.

MOVES MADE

Jan. 21: Ozuna signs 1-year deal with Braves, to play LF
The Braves signed Ozuna to a one-year, $18 million contract. With Donaldson’s departure, the Braves had a middle-of-the lineup void that will be filled by Ozuna, who hit .263 with 52 homers and a .779 OPS for the Cardinals over the past two seasons. The 29-year-old outfielder is just two seasons removed from having belted 37 homers with a .924 OPS for the 2017 Marlins.

Jan. 16: Braves bring back Hechavarría on 1-year deal
Hechavarría made the most of last year’s late-season audition, and he will now have a chance to continue being an asset to the Braves’ bench. Hechavarría signed a one-year, $1 million deal, and the 30-year-old veteran can play each infield position. His return satisfies the team’s definitive need to add a backup shortstop option.

Dec. 3: Hamels joins the fold
Knowing another front-end starter was a necessity when Dallas Keuchel became a free agent, the Braves addressed that need by locking up veteran Cole Hamels to a one-year deal worth $18 million. Hamels amassed a 3.81 ERA with the Cubs in 2019 and can bring about a steady, veteran hand to impart wisdom on the club's young rotation.

Nov. 24: d'Arnaud signs
With Brian McCann retired and none of their prospects ready to fill a regular role at the big league level, the Braves added catcher Travis d'Arnaud on a two-year, $16 million deal to pair with Tyler Flowers, who was brought back on a one-year deal after his option was declined.

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 reportedly agreed to a four-year deal with the Twins, so Atlanta will receive Draft pick compensation in 2020.

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.