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Braves' chairman opens door to more deals

McGuirk says club has ability for short-term signings similar to Donaldson
November 28, 2018

ATLANTA -- As Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos was reiterating his hesitance to make a long-term commitment to players available via trade or free agency, team chairman Terry McGuirk stood across the room and said the club still has the financial flexibility necessary to make another significant short-term commitment, similar

ATLANTA -- As Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos was reiterating his hesitance to make a long-term commitment to players available via trade or free agency, team chairman Terry McGuirk stood across the room and said the club still has the financial flexibility necessary to make another significant short-term commitment, similar to the one already made to Josh Donaldson.
"This is our moment," McGuirk said. "This is a time where we would be nuts not to be touching all the buttons. With the kind of youth we have coming up, with the ability we have to fill some holes, with the revenue growth and the current excitement, you couldn't find all the pieces all fitting together any better if you had written a script. I'm an optimist, but it's hard to be optimistic enough about some of this stuff."
McGuirk has repeatedly showered praise upon Anthopoulos, who jump-started the offseason by committing $25 million via the one-year deals given this week to Donaldson ($23 million) and Brian McCann ($2 million). The Braves have at least $30 million available to address their need for an outfielder and their wishes to fortify their rotation, bullpen and bench.
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"It's sort of like we're walking out on a pier," McGuirk said. "With every step, we evaluate and say, 'What will it take to get to the next step?' But we have a lot of capacity. You've got to use it correctly. We're not the Yankees or the Dodgers. We can't waste money. I think we went into this offseason saying, 'There's nobody who can outplay us in this offseason.' Even with [Phillies managing partner John Middleton] making the comment about [spending] 'stupid money', those were intimidating factors to teams that don't have this much money. But we're not intimidated by that."
This is not to say Atlanta should be considered a potential suitor for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. Anthopoulos has repeatedly made it clear he's not shopping down that aisle. But he does have the monetary means and the high-quality prospect pool necessary to make at least one more significant transaction via free agency or more likely via the trade market.

"If we can add a starter and have that much more depth, great," Anthopoulos said. "A reliever we'd love to add as well. We'd like to add to the bench. Even if we get a starting outfielder, we still have some other things we can do. I don't know if we'll be able to achieve all of it. You want to build a team that can put you in a position that you're contending come July. Then with those final pieces, you can plug those holes. We just have to be smart about how we spend our money and how we trade our prospect capital and so on. As much as we need to fill spots, we're not going to do a deal just to do a deal."
Anthopoulos' comment about plugging holes is important, as it reinforces his desire to always have some money set aside to have the financial means necessary to make pivotal midseason trades. So with this in mind, we should expect him to allocate approximately $10 million of his available funds to be used during the 2019 season.
But as McGuirk said, finances should not deter Anthopoulos from satisfying his desire to make responsible attempts to satisfy his offseason shopping endeavors.
Here's a look at the Braves' remaining needs and wants:
Starting pitcher
The Braves have Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, Kevin Gausman and Julio Teheran penciled in to fill the first four spots of their rotation. Mike Soroka, Max Fried and Touki Toussaint lead the list of fifth-starter candidates. While there's hope Newcomb will make a rise similar to the one Foltynewicz made this year, Atlanta needs another front-line starter to legitimize its goal to become World Series contenders. Anthopoulos has indicated he is not comfortable with the cost to acquire or sign a starting pitcher with more than a couple years of remaining control. But there's at least one free agent who has continued to draw his interest

Potential fits: Some evaluators have ticked Patrick Corbin to land with the Yankees, and others have said the Phillies will likely make the largest offer to the free-agent left-hander. But the Braves have continued to express interest in Corbin, who finished fifth in balloting for this year's National League Cy Young Award. The Indians may be willing to move Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco or Trevor Bauer if they are able to get the kind of return the Braves are capable of providing. Carrasco is the most affordable ($9 million in 2019 and a $9.5 million option for '20) member of this trio. Early indications are Atlanta would have to deal Cristian Pache, Kyle Wright and Toussaint for three years of Kluber. That's not going to happen.
Madison Bumgarner will make an affordable $12 million as he enters the final year of his contract, and he certainly could be a positive influence on some of the young starters. But he's no longer the same MadBum who used to rule Octobers. So for now, he should be considered a secondary option.
Bullpen
There is a chance Arodys Vizcaino will be non-tendered before Friday's 8 p.m. ET deadline. Even if he isn't, the Braves have a legit reason to worry about him proving durable enough to be their closer throughout the 2019 season.
While there is an obvious connection to Craig Kimbrel, the Braves have made it clear he won't be joining McCann on a reunion tour. Zach Britton seems to be the more likely free agent to possibly end up with Atlanta.

The Braves are also among the many teams who have inquired about Edwin Diaz, who arguably stands as the Mariners' best trade chip. Adam Ottavino will not be as expensive as Kimbrel, but the publicity he's received as a free agent has likely made him more expensive than envisioned.
Outfielder
With the addition of Donaldson's power potential, the Braves can widen their search for an outfielder. They've shown some interest in Michael Brantley, and they have perused the trade market looking for someone to replace Nick Markakis.
But they also haven't closed the door on re-signing Markakis, who will get a feel for his free-agent market before deciding whether he wants to return to Atlanta with a contract that would likely include less than three guaranteed seasons.
"Nick was awesome for us last year," Anthopoulos said. "I think he'd complement this team and fit this lineup great right now with how we're set up. We've maintained contact and we've maintained dialogue. I just have no idea what the outcome will be."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.