LAS VEGAS -- When the Phillies reached an agreement with Andrew McCutchen on Tuesday, Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos erased an outfield target from his wish list and saw next year's National League East race become even more intriguing.After spending most of this decade as a GM, Anthopoulos has developed
LAS VEGAS -- When the Phillies reached an agreement with Andrew McCutchen on Tuesday, Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos erased an outfield target from his wish list and saw next year's National League East race become even more intriguing.
After spending most of this decade as a GM, Anthopoulos has developed a patient approach that allows him to be comfortable with the possibility he may not satisfy his wish to land a starting pitcher, improve his bullpen or fill his outfield void by month's end.
"We're obviously having a ton of dialogue, but I just think we're going to have to wait things out a little bit," Anthopoulos said. "From where we value things and with the price points we want both with free agency and trade, I just think we're going to have to be patient right now because it's just not there for us this month."
Still influenced by his ill-fated late offseason signing of Francisco Cordero in 2012 with Toronto and motivated by one of his favorite Warren Buffett quotes, "Price is what you pay, value is what you get," Anthopoulos remains focused on sticking to his plan without being swayed by unexpected market influences.
"I wouldn't expect by the time we leave the Meetings we won't have anything done for a starter or a reliever," Anthopoulos said. "You know that can change fast. But right now, I don't think we have any momentum towards with the way things are heading for guys, whether it be trades or free agents."
How about outfielders?
"We have definitely vetted the landscape of free-agent outfielders, and we haven't found a deal that works for us yet," Anthopoulos said.
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The three-year, $50 million contract McCutchen will reportedly receive from the Phillies is much more significant than anything he'd have gotten from the Braves, who viewed the former NL Most Valuable Player Award winner, Carlos Gonzalez and Nick Markakis as potential outfield targets with a one- or two-year deal.
As the Braves wait to see how the market develops for Markakis and Gonzalez, they'll do the same for Michael Brantley, who will likely only become a potential target if the offseason evolves to the point where he's willing to accept less than a three-year deal.
While Ender Inciarte has drawn interest from other clubs and stands as a valuable trade chip, the Braves' desire to keep the three-time Gold Glove Award winner is rooted in the fact his presence allows them to widen their scope for an outfielder.
Markakis' rise from being a below-average defender in 2017 to a Gold Glove Award winner in '18 was heavily influenced by improved positioning. But it should be noted Inciarte's presence led the Braves to comfortably have Markakis play deeper and closer to the right-field line.
"Ideally, you want an average to above-average defender, but we have talked about the fact we have Ender in center. And he's such a good defender, [we feel] we have a center fielder and a half," Anthopoulos said. "Knowing we have him in center field allows us to at least discuss taking on a defender who is not as strong [but attractive] because the bat is that much better."
Much of the recent chatter regarding J.T. Realmuto has centered around the Mets' strong pursuit of the veteran catcher. Before signing Brian McCann, the Braves gained the sense the Marlins were not willing to deal Realmuto to an NL East rival.
Anthopoulos chose not to comment on the possibility the Marlins' thought process has changed. Instead, he indicated he is comfortable with the likelihood of entering 2019 with McCann and Tyler Flowers as his catchers. At the same time, Anthopoulos seemed to indicate it's his responsibility to at least continue to monitor the market for what stands as one of this offseason's top available assets.
"We're happy with what we have behind the plate," Anthopoulos said. "If any great players are available via trade, we're not doing our job if we don't explore that. I just don't know if it's fair for me to comment on what Miami [is thinking]. I certainly wouldn't want them going on the record with what I was talking about with them."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.