ATLANTA -- Matt Adams legitimized his value as a power hitter when provided the opportunity to spend more than two months this year serving as the Braves' everyday first baseman. But his projected role and cost for the 2018 season creates reason to believe he could be playing elsewhere next
ATLANTA -- Matt Adams legitimized his value as a power hitter when provided the opportunity to spend more than two months this year serving as the Braves' everyday first baseman. But his projected role and cost for the 2018 season creates reason to believe he could be playing elsewhere next season.
The Braves have until Friday at 8 p.m. ET to decide which of their arbitration-eligible players will be tendered a contract for the upcoming season. This group includes Arodys Vizcaino, Sam Freeman, Mike Foltynewicz, Dan Winkler, Jace Peterson, Danny Santana and Adams.
Peterson, Santana and Adams appear to be the only members who might not be tendered a contract and consequently placed on the free-agent market. Players who are non-tendered have usually gained a projected arbitration cost that exceeds what the team views as their value.
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Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos and his staff will continue to try to trade Adams, who could receive $4.6 million via MLB Trade Rumors' arbitration projections. But it appears there are a number of other teams also hesitant about paying that amount for a defensively limited left-handed slugger who could be best utilized as a first baseman and designated hitter.
That is not to say there aren't teams interested in Adams, who hit .274 with 20 homers and an .841 OPS this past season. But instead of trading for him now and having to go through the arbitration process, those interested teams will likely wait to see if he can be gained for a lower cost as a non-tendered free agent.
If the Braves do not trade Adams before Friday's deadline, they could opt to take the risk of tendering him a contract with the hope of trading him later this winter or during Spring Training. But they are not necessarily in a financial position to take this risk on a player who would fill a bench spot if he stays in Atlanta.
There is also a chance the Braves would attempt to re-sign Adams at a lower cost if he is non-tendered.
After Freddie Freeman fractured his wrist in May, the Braves acquired Adams from the Cardinals and used him as their everyday first baseman through the end of July. The 29-year-old veteran hit .298 with 12 home runs and a 1.009 OPS through his first 31 games (135 plate appearances) for Atlanta. His impressive production led Freeman to make the decision to spend July playing third base.
Adams hit .251 with seven homers and a .746 OPS over his final 69 games (175 plate appearances). Once his production leveled, he moved to a bench role and Freeman returned to his role as Atlanta's everyday first baseman.
Among all National League players who hit at least 20 homers and compiled at least 330 plate appearances this year, Adams ranked 18th with a 16.95 at-bats-per-home-run ratio. He has the power potential to serve as a designated hitter and the .687 OPS he has produced against left-handed pitchers over the past two seasons has at least slightly diminished the stigma that he can't handle southpaws.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.