Inbox: Free agents, young arms and more

Atlanta beat writer Mark Bowman answers fans' questions

November 24th, 2021

Do you think will sign with the baseball team that offers him the most money?
-- @RhubarbBrown

This question comes from our friend Josh Brown, who is a very funny dude. While Josh sends this in sarcastic fashion, I do think this is one of those instances where the free agent would certainly pass on the most significant offer.

So far the Rangers, Yankees, Red Sox, Giants and Dodgers are among the teams who have shown interest in Freeman.

Before counting out Texas, remember that they have more than $100 million to spend this offseason. So, their shopping spree could include Clayton Kershaw, Freeman and at least one more big free agent. Freeman’s personality makes it hard to picture him playing in New York. But money talks, and the Yankees have more than enough to spend on a left-handed slugger who would satisfy many of their needs, including providing the durability they haven’t received from Giancarlo Stanton or Aaron Judge.

It also doesn’t hurt to have both the Red Sox and Yankees vying for you at the same time as the Giants and Dodgers. More National League teams come into play when you account for the possibility that the universal DH will become a permanent part of the game next year.

When the Cardinals gave Paul Goldschmidt his five-year, $130 million deal before the 2019 season, the Braves said there was plenty of time to discuss a Freeman extension. Well, in my mind, that time expired at the end of Spring Training this year. Could something have been done during the regular season? Sure. But all signs pointed to us being where we are now, with Freeman being a free agent.

Quite frankly, the whole “Freeman wants to be here and the Braves want to keep him” line of thinking means very little right now. This is a business where money trumps word. Why the Braves were willing to reach this point, where other teams can influence Freeman’s cost, doesn't necessarily make sense. Whatever Freeman accepts will most definitely be more than what he might have signed for back in March.

Hall of Fame executive John Schuerholz would occasionally say, “it takes two to tango,” when speaking about negotiations or trade pursuits. Well Freeman has arrived at the dance and for the first time in his career, he is being courted by many suitors. Maybe playing it cool will end up working for the Braves. But for now, there are no guarantees.

If for some reason the Braves do not re-sign Freeman, is Matt Olson out of the question as a trade?
-- @jase1129

If Freeman were to sign elsewhere, Olson would certainly be a prime target. You’d be trading for two years of control for a skilled defender who could hit 25-plus homers a season. My only concern would be having both Olson and Jeff Francoeur around all of the time. I mean, would the Braves start wearing Parkview High School throwback uniforms a couple times a year?

How do the Braves rank our young pitchers? , , and?
-- @BSum94

Let’s just go ahead and throw Ynoa in the bullpen category. He has a chance to be a good high-leverage asset for many years to come. But until he develops a third pitch to complement his great slider, I don’t see him being more than a No. 5 starter for a playoff contender.

I liked where Davidson was progressing before being injured, but his stuff didn’t impress me as much as Muller’s. My assumption about Muller had always been that he’d end up in the bullpen as long as he eventually harnessed his command. Well, command is still an issue, but I think it’s wise to at least keep him stretched out for now.

So, I’m ranking Wright at the top of this list. Am I doing this based solely on the great 4 1/3 innings of relief he provided during Game 4 of the World Series? Well, of course. But more importantly, that sensational effort only strengthened the belief that he benefited from being left alone after he was sent back to Triple-A Gwinnett near the end of June.

There’s never been a question about Wright’s repertoire. Now that he was finally given a chance to complete his development without being yo-yoed back and forth between the Majors and Minors, I think we may see him rise toward his potential of being a frontline starter.

Odds that Wright cracks the rotation for Opening Day? How many more chances will he get?
-- @CalvinCooley

Right now, the Opening Day rotation projects to include Charlie Morton, Max Fried and Ian Anderson. Wright has to be the top internal favorite for one of those two open spots. And for the other spot, I’m going to steal from Peter Moylan, who views Rich Hill as a potential fit.

Do you see Josh Tomlin playing somewhere next year? If not, could he be picked up for the coaching staff? He seems to work great with the younger guys.
-- @guestisthename

Tomlin is one of the finest human beings you will ever encounter. He will make an outstanding coach, scout, evaluator or whatever he wants to be in the game. What he did for A.J. Minter’s confidence over the past couple seasons has been quite impressive.

Do you think Cristian Pache and/or Drew Waters will be traded this offseason?
-- @atlantaholic_

Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos has repeatedly shown us the value of organizational depth. Pache and Waters have both underperformed great expectations. But instead of trading them for nickels on the dollar, the Braves should just allow both prospects to develop at the Triple-A level for one more year. The talent is there for both. Unfortunately, 2020 messed with the development of many prospects. Maybe one of both of these outfielders will begin to shine again next year.