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Anthopoulos getting feel for offseason direction

Braves assessing markets for potential Hot Stove moves
MLB.com @mlbbowman

ATLANTA -- A little more than two weeks into his tenure as the head of the Braves' baseball operations department, Alex Anthopoulos is still getting a feel for which direction he might take with his new organization.

As John Coppolella progressed through what proved to be his final weeks as a baseball executive, he indicated his primary offseason objectives were to fortify the Braves' bullpen and shop for a power hitter, possibly one who could provide a short-term fix at third base.

ATLANTA -- A little more than two weeks into his tenure as the head of the Braves' baseball operations department, Alex Anthopoulos is still getting a feel for which direction he might take with his new organization.

As John Coppolella progressed through what proved to be his final weeks as a baseball executive, he indicated his primary offseason objectives were to fortify the Braves' bullpen and shop for a power hitter, possibly one who could provide a short-term fix at third base.

A month ago, Anthopoulos was in Houston watching his Dodgers battle the Astros in Game 5 of the World Series. It might have been fitting for that action-packed battle to have served as the last event he experienced before flying to Atlanta the following morning to interview with the Braves.

Hot Stove Tracker

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind for Anthopoulos, who exited his role as Dodgers vice president of baseball operations on Nov. 13 to fill the Braves' GM role, which had been vacated on Oct. 2, when Coppolella was forced to resign in the midst of the MLB investigation that led to him being hit with a lifetime ban last week.

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Anthopoulos has spent the past two weeks quickly acquainting himself with his new organization and organizing his front office staff. Fortunately, the free-agent and trade markets have remained relatively quiet as he has devised his own plans for the Hot Stove season.

While Coppolella might have viewed the bullpen as the team's greatest area of need, Anthopoulos will now be able to assess the market and possibly place his focus elsewhere.

Given the Braves seemingly have more wants than absolute needs, this might be an offseason in which the target becomes the most valuable attainable asset. In other words, even if the bullpen is recognized as the team's greatest area of need, the Braves may opt instead to use their financial resources on a starting pitcher or power hitter who could bring more immediate and long-term value.

While the Braves have not yet been aggressively pursuing free agents, they have at least done their due diligence by trying to get a feel for what the trade market might look like for Matt Adams, Matt Kemp and some of their other veterans.

There is a chance the Braves could opt to non-tender Adams if they are not able to trade him before Friday night, when all Major League clubs must decide which of their arbitration-eligible players will be tendered a contract for the 2018 season.

Adams could make $4.6 million via arbitration per MLB Trade Rumors' projection. The Braves would have the option to tender him a contract with the hope of signing him later this offseason or during Spring Training. But if they get a good feeling about the left-handed slugger's trade market this week, they may not be willing to take this gamble.

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With top prospect Ronald Acuna seemingly positioned to be added to the roster during the early portion of next season, the Braves need to create a spot for him by parting ways with one of their veteran corner outfielders. Nick Markakis might draw interest as he nears the end of his contract, but the club would rather part ways with Kemp, who is owed $43 million (the Dodgers are responsible for $7 million) over the final two years of his contract.

The Braves received $10.5 million from the Padres when they acquired Kemp on July 29, 2016. Still, when accounting for the Dodgers' portion of the financial responsibility, it's best to view the veteran outfielder's annual cost as $18 million over the next two seasons.

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Kemp began the 2017 season in encouraging fashion as he reported to Spring Training with a slender frame and proved productive at the plate until his hamstring issues began to mount in June. His injury woes will further diminish a potential trade market that likely consists primarily of American League teams.

The Braves will almost certainly have to eat a portion of Kemp's contract if a trade is completed. But it remains to be seen if they will be willing to eat all of the contract if they are not able to find a suitor for the veteran outfielder, who was acquired in the bad contract swap that sent Hector Olivera to the Padres.

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

Atlanta Braves