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Braves leave Meetings with pressing needs

@mlbbowman
December 16, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos left the Winter Meetings on Thursday without adding to his busy offseason. But this week's event gave Anthopoulos a better feel for the multiple options he has to secure a middle-of-the-lineup bat if Josh Donaldson opts to sign elsewhere. "I think there's

SAN DIEGO -- Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos left the Winter Meetings on Thursday without adding to his busy offseason.

But this week's event gave Anthopoulos a better feel for the multiple options he has to secure a middle-of-the-lineup bat if Josh Donaldson opts to sign elsewhere.

"I think there's a lot of things we're interested in doing that have a chance to come to fruition," Anthopoulos said. "I'm not trying to create expectations or foreshadow, but sometimes you're at these Meetings and you're not getting anywhere. You can't get any traction. It's felt like there's been very productive discussions that [didn't] lead to a result here. But it's been more productive than years past in my estimation."

Anthopoulos did satisfy one need by hiring Ben Sestanovich, who will help run the player development department and serve as an assistant general manager. Sestanovich spent the past 10 seasons in the Padres' front office.

But here is a look at the more pressing needs the Braves will continue to address this offseason:

BIGGEST REMAINING NEEDS

1) Power bat: Re-signing Donaldson is an easy solution from an immediate standpoint. There seems to be some doubt the Braves would be willing to make the four-year offer Donaldson could receive from the Nationals, Rangers, Twins or another potential suitor. But with Anthony Rendon reportedly having signed with the Angels, Donaldson stands as the best available hitter on the free-agent market. The Braves might have to offer that fourth year or sweeten the average annual value of a three-year offer to satisfy their need for a cleanup hitter. They don't seem interested in trading for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, and signing free-agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna feels like it would be an only-if-necessary backup plan.

2) Starting pitcher: Once the Braves signed Cole Hamels to his one-year, $18 million deal, they erased their need to add a veteran to their rotation. But there's always a want to gather as much starting pitching depth as possible. Madison Bumgarner continues to be linked to Atlanta. But Anthopoulos would likely only go this route if he reaches a point where he isn't going to land a power bat and thus has an excess of available payroll flexibility.

3) Bench: Though they did not land Howie Kendrick, the Braves will continue to look for another versatile veteran, preferably one who can be used as both an infielder and outfielder. As previously mentioned, this doesn't exclude the possibility of outfielder Matt Joyce or infielder Adeiny Hechavarría returning to Atlanta. But even if both come back, the five-man bench, which currently consists of a catcher (Tyler Flowers or Travis d'Arnaud) and an outfielder (Nick Markakis or Adam Duvall), would still need to be added to. Johan Camargo would fit one of those bench spots if Atlanta lands a third baseman.

RULE 5 DRAFT

The Braves did not have any activity during the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft. In the Minor League phase, they lost right-handed reliever Alex Aquino and selected infielder Wendell Rijo (Yankees). Aquino was taken by the Pirates.

GM'S BOTTOM LINE

"We're still trying to get something done. You have to be open-minded to anything this time of year." -- Anthopoulos

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