Do you think this MLB investigation and its effects will affect the way the Braves go about the business of trades/free-agent signings this offseason?
That's not the only question facing the club, and so it's a combination of uncertainties that must be dealt with.
Braves president of baseball operations John Hart has said he plans to return next season, but until MLB's investigation is complete or the Braves announce that Hart's contract has been extended or that another hire has been made, there's reason to wonder who will be guiding the Braves through the offseason process.
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This is certainly not the best position to be in approximately two weeks before the free-agent market opens. But unfortunately for the Braves, it is where they are. Regardless of who is steering the ship, it seems obvious the Braves' primary offseason objectives will be to fortify their bullpen and create a spot for No. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna by trading either Nick Markakis or Matt Kemp.
Other possibilities, such as whether there is a pursuit of another experienced starter, will be influenced by whether Hart remains in his position.
Director of player personnel Perry Minasian and assistant general manager Adam Fisher have had to accelerate their familiarity with the team's assets and needs since joining the organization on Sept. 19. Both drew complimentary reviews for how they handled some of the planning that was discussed during last week's organizational meetings.
But while it might be nice to have a base, the potential direction of this offseason will not be realized until it's determined who will be serving as the chief director.
What are the realistic chances the Braves get [Royals GM] Dayton Moore?
Moore would appear to be a perfect fit as a widely respected leader who could bring credibility to the organization. But he recently said he has not been approached about any opening with Atlanta, and he declined to comment on any potential interest he might have in returning to his old team.
That would be important, because there will be a need to restore the external trust that has been lost as a result of the current situation.
Moore has remained a favorite within the Braves organization, as he has spent the past decade molding and rebuilding the culture within a Royals organization that won a World Series title under his direction. He understands how to build championship-caliber rosters, but more important, he has a burning desire to bring out the best in those around him.
As the Braves attempt to distance themselves from recent events, they could certainly use a highly regarded and widely respected leader who would create internal motivation and provide the instant credibility needed to restore the organization's external image. Whether that is Moore remains to be seen.
When will the Braves announce their coaching changes?
While MLB doesn't like major announcements to be made during the postseason, there is a chance the Braves could gain permission to reveal coaching staff changes a day or two before the start of the World Series.
Once again, it's somewhat awkward to make coaching changes when you aren't necessarily sure who will be at the helm. But as things stand, it appears bench coach Terry Pendleton and first-base coach Eddie Perez will be the most likely to be affected by these changes. Pitching coach Chuck Hernandez's future was also in doubt, but for now, it appears he might stay.
Pendleton and Perez stand as the organization's longest-tenured coaches and fan favorites. But it became clear by the end of the regular season their respective tenures might be nearing an end. It doesn't appear John Coppolella's exit altered the club's mindset.
Walt Weiss is among those who have been interviewed to join the Braves' coaching staff. Weiss would most likely replace Pendleton as manager Brian Snitker's bench coach.
Who are the favorites to be in starting rotation next year?
Let's consider Luiz Gohara, Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb to be locks and label Julio Teheran as a non-lock, barring a potential trade, which I'm not currently expecting. The fifth spot in the rotation could go to Dickey, Mike Soroka, Lucas Sims or Max Fried.
Dickey's candidacy hinges on his desire to continue pitching and whether those in charge opt to exercise his $8 million option. It might be beneficial to have a seasoned arm within this young rotation, but if the next wave of prospects stay the course, you don't want a short-term veteran blocking the development of a future asset.
If I had to guess, Sims will begin the season as the fifth starter because the Braves will want to keep Soroka, Fried and Kolby Allard within Triple-A Gwinnett's rotation for a couple of months before possibly promoting at least one of them in late May or early June.