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Inbox: Will Braves make any more moves?

Beat reporter Mark Bowman answers questions from fans
December 21, 2017

With the Matt Kemp trade taking on money for 2018 to free it up for 2019, do you think the remainder of the offseason will be quiet? -- @baldheaded1der While I wouldn't necessarily anticipate the Braves making any significant moves over the rest of the winter, I think they still

With the Matt Kemp trade taking on money for 2018 to free it up for 2019, do you think the remainder of the offseason will be quiet?
-- @baldheaded1der

While I wouldn't necessarily anticipate the Braves making any significant moves over the rest of the winter, I think they still will attempt to cross a couple items off their wish list, which includes possibly adding an experienced reliever and third baseman.
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General manager Alex Anthopoulos has wisely taken a meticulous approach to learning his new organization. With the Kemp trade, he aided the club's financial future, improved defensively and addressed a couple of wants by adding depth to both the rotation (Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir) and the bench (Charlie Culberson).
With the trade, the Braves added approximately $30 million in payroll and now have somewhere in the neighborhood of $10-15 million to spend for the 2018 season. A potential way to immediately gain more flexibility would be to trade Nick Markakis. But at this point, I don't think the return would trump the potential value Markakis could provide, at least until the club is ready to bring Ronald Acuna to the Majors.
• Benefits abound from Kemp trade
Anthopoulos will do all that he can to help the Braves avoid what would be a fifth consecutive losing season, but at this point of the rebuild, it is important that he gets a feel for when the time will be right to make a significant addition to the rotation or lineup.
Let's go to the extreme and ask, would the Braves immediately become legit playoff contenders if they added Clayton Kershaw to their rotation? While adding the game's best pitcher might create excitement, it doesn't alter my belief that the team's playoff chances would be more significantly influenced by the club's young starting pitchers making major strides. Until Anthopoulos gets his own feel for where Mike Foltynewicz, Luiz Gohara and Sean Newcomb stand with their development and how significantly Max Fried, Mike Soroka or Kolby Allard could contribute in 2019, I don't think it would be wise to make significant commitments that extend beyond this season.

By the time July's non-waiver Trade Deadline arrives, it will be easier to define exactly what the Braves need to take the next step toward becoming a playoff contender. With this in mind, Anthopoulos may choose to preserve some of his current financial flexibility and utilize it if presented with a trade that makes sense at some point during the season.
Will the Braves still try to move Markakis?
-- @chiefstroup

Now to expand on my thoughts regarding Markakis, who is owed $11 million as he enters the final year of his contract: If you move him right now, you'd likely have to eat a significant portion of the salary to get a decent return. At the same time, you'd further deplete an outfield mix that may not include Acuna at the start of the regular season.
Obviously, if the Braves were to acquire the Marlins' Christian Yelich or another similar impact outfielder, it would make it much more comfortable to move Markakis this winter. The Braves certainly have the prospects necessary to make a significant trade for an outfielder, but for now, I'm guessing Markakis will come to Spring Training and then possibly be dealt during the summer to a team looking for an experienced left-handed hitter who would enrich the clubhouse culture.
When Acuna arrives, will Markakis move to left field?
-- @dgbbgt

Once again, making the assumption these two will spend at least some time within the same outfield trio, I'm going to say because of SunTrust Park's dimensions, Acuna's range would make him the more likely candidate to serve as the left fielder.

Acuna has the range of a center fielder, but because the Braves are already employing the reigning Gold Glove Award winner in that spot in Ender Inciarte, the young phenom will have to occupy one of the two corner-outfield spots. So, with left field being much more cavernous than right field at SunTrust Park, it seemingly makes more sense to keep Markakis at his normal position.
How will the Braves use Kazmir?
-- @Bryan_Webb18
While the Braves are hoping McCarthy is healthy enough to give them 150 innings and prevent needing to rush any of their rising pitching prospects, they'll look at anything Kazmir provides as gravy.
Kazmir missed all of this past season with a hip injury and he completed just 136 1/3 innings over 26 starts for the Dodgers in 2016. If he proves to be healthy during Spring Training and can be flipped, that would be a positive development for the Braves. If he is needed within the rotation for anything outside of a McCarthy injury, that might be a negative development, as it would signal some of the club's young starters aren't striding in the right direction.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001.