ATLANTA -- The Braves introduced new addition Will Smith on Tuesday, but that was far from the only topic. Here are some takeaways from the announcement and general manager Alex Anthopoulos’ session with reporters afterward.
1. Third base still a priority
Anthopoulos did not comment directly on where things stand with Josh Donaldson, but emphasized that one way or another, the Braves intend to acquire a third baseman before the season. That may be Donaldson -- who enjoyed a huge year with the Braves in 2019 -- but it could also be someone else.
“I think the best way for me to answer that, without getting real specific, is we’re still looking at trying to do something at third base,” Anthopoulos said. “We like [Johan] Camargo. We like [Austin] Riley. But whether it’s inconsistencies with performance, health, things like that, we’re still going to look to add at third base one way or the other. A lot of good players out there, and we’re going to try to see if we can get something done.”
2. Draft picks not necessarily a deterrent
The Braves will have to give up a pick in the 2020 MLB Draft in exchange for signing Smith, who received a qualifying offer from the Giants. They could receive a pick in compensation if Donaldson signs elsewhere. Anthopoulos said that while those considerations factor into the Braves’ decision-making process, they won’t necessarily dictate whether Atlanta adds another player with compensation attached -- perhaps another Giants left-hander like Madison Bumgarner.
“It’s part of it,” Anthopoulos said. “You talk about it. Obviously you’d rather keep your Draft picks. But at the same time, the guys that are getting qualified are great players.
“You weigh everything, like you would at all times. We’re looking at a player-by-player, case-by-case basis, and if we like the player and we like the deal, we’ll go ahead and sign him.”
3. Bumgarner a fit?
Smith was asked about Bumgarner, a fellow southerner who hails from rural North Carolina. He acknowledged that the lure of pitching in Atlanta could be compelling to Bumgarner, who has been linked in rumors to the Braves and who like Smith certainly would make baseball sense for Atlanta.
“I don’t know, maybe,” Smith said. “Maybe. We’ll see. That would be great. Especially with the kind of talent he is. We’ll see what they’ve got. … I just think any time you can get closer to home, a three-hour time change is a lot, stuff like that.”
4. Greene staying put
Anthopoulos doused speculation that right-handed reliever Shane Greene might be non-tendered next month. Greene, 31, was acquired in a trade with Detroit in July and posted a 4.01 ERA with Atlanta. He made $4 million in his second year of arbitration eligibility in 2019 and is under team control through '20.
“I don’t know, I’ve seen that,” Anthopoulos said. “He did a nice job for us. We’re trying to have a deep bullpen. We like Shane. We’re excited to have him. We’re trying to add to the bullpen, not subtract.”
5. Newcomb to be stretched out
Left-hander Sean Newcomb emerged as a force in relief in 2019, but the addition of Smith naturally led to some questions about Newcomb’s role. Anthopoulos stopped well short of committing to Newcomb as a member of the rotation, but did say that Newcomb would begin the year being stretched out like a starter.