What are the chances the Braves sign Bryce Harper?
-- @bdubsmitty Never say never. But unless signing Harper or Manny Machado will alleviate the need for the Braves to add a veteran starter and add at least two proven relievers, then neither of these superstars should be considered a likely
What are the chances the Braves sign Bryce Harper?
Never say never. But unless signing Harper or Manny Machado will alleviate the need for the Braves to add a veteran starter and add at least two proven relievers, then neither of these superstars should be considered a likely possibility.
Yeah, it would be cool to see Harper replace Nick Markakis and get paired in the lineup with Freddie Freeman. It would also be good to see Machado at third base and in the middle of Atlanta's lineup. But the expected annual value of $25 million to $30 million it could cost to sign either of these superstars would likely influence how the team strengthens the rotation and bullpen.
We can sit here and say because the Braves' only definitive needs are to get an outfielder and a catcher, they should just throw the money at Harper and then find an economical option to put behind the plate. But this ignores the fact that even with their wealth of pitching prospects, Atlanta needs to upgrade its staff to become legit World Series contenders.
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If you don't think the Braves could benefit from trading for Corey Kluber or signing either Dallas Keuchel or Patrick Corbin, remember Anibal Sanchez started Game 2 of the National League Division Series. As for the closer's role, I don't think it would be wise to gamble on the long-term durability of Arodys Vizcaino's right shoulder.
Now, if Atlanta chooses to use its prospect riches to land J.T. Realmuto and a starting pitcher of Kluber's quality, then there's a chance the club may still have the financial means necessary to bid for Harper or Machado. But it wouldn't make sense to make a significant commitment to either before first having the confidence the pitching staff will be fortified.
I keep hearing on sports talk radio mentions of trading Dansby Swanson. Is this at all a possibility?
Beyond Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr., I don't think anyone should be considered untouchable. Obviously, Johan Camargo's versatility combined with the potential to add a power-hitting third baseman makes Swanson an interesting topic. The same could be said in reference to Ozzie Albies, who would obviously garner more value on the trade market.
But over the course of last season, I believe the organization gained a much greater appreciation for Swanson, especially from a defensive perspective. He's certainly viewed much different than he was last offseason, when he was included in talks with the Tigers about Michael Fulmer.
Have there been any updates regarding the Braves' search for a pitching coach?
Recognizing the significance of this hire, the Braves have stuck to their plan to remain patient while conducting a widespread search for Chuck Hernandez's successor. General manager Alex Anthopoulos has indicated he may still be a few weeks from making a decision.
One potential candidate is Rick Knapp, who coincidently replaced Hernandez as the Tigers' pitching coach after the 2008 season. Knapp served as the Dodgers' Minor League pitching coordinator through 2016. He spent this summer as the Rays' Triple-A pitching coach.
Anthopoulos' former affiliation with the Dodgers created reason to wonder about two members of that coaching staff: pitching coach Rick Honeycutt -- a Chattanooga, Tenn., native -- and bullpen coach Mark Prior. But I've been told neither should be considered a candidate.
The internal candidates are director of player personnel Dom Chiti, catching coach Sal Fasano and bullpen coach Marty Reed.
Anthopoulos assigned Fasano to be the Blue Jays' pitching coordinator before the 2015 season. But the former catcher may want to remain in his current role -- he could possibly field managerial job offers within the next couple of years.
Is Julio Teheran being gone next year a sure thing?
After making each of the Braves' past five Opening Day starts, Teheran finds himself in limbo. If he isn't packaged in a trade this offseason, he would likely come to Spring Training next year needing to battle for a rotation spot. In other words, the $11 million he'll receive during the final year of his contract next season no longer seems like a bargain.
Many longtime readers will recognize this as an annual tradition that dates back to the 2015 season, when I first pondered whether it was worth waiting for Teheran to restore his value before trading him. Other than during the first half of the '16 season, we haven't seen him impress for more than a couple of weeks at a time.
With a 3.15 ERA and a .170 batting average against over his final 11 starts this season, Teheran restored enough confidence for Atlanta to carry him as a last-resort reliever on its NLDS roster.
This certainly seems to be a good time for the two sides to part ways. But unless he is part of a package deal, I don't think the Braves will get much in return for Teheran.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.