LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Braves have not ruled out the possibility of acquiring a third baseman before the start of the season. But as has been the case throughout the offseason, they still don't seem to be a potential fit for free agent Mike Moustakas.Now that Spring Training
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Braves have not ruled out the possibility of acquiring a third baseman before the start of the season. But as has been the case throughout the offseason, they still don't seem to be a potential fit for free agent Mike Moustakas.
Now that Spring Training has started, there's further reason to wonder what kind of offer Moustakas might eventually have to accept. But there's essentially no chance he would be willing to accept what could be offered by the Braves, who have been financially strapped since adding $21.5 million worth of payroll expenses via the December trade that sent Matt Kemp to the Dodgers.
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The Kemp deal was obviously aimed toward providing much greater financial flexibility next winter, when general manager Alex Anthopoulos will have approximately $50 million to spend. While the Braves have never disclosed a specific payroll figure for the upcoming season, it's believed they have less than $10 million to spend. Moustakas, who rejected the Royals' one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer, will still likely garner at least an eight-figure salary this year.
If they want to be creative, the Braves could at least approach Moustakas about the possibility of a back-loaded, multi-year deal. But they have made it clear they have only been evaluating short-term arrangements with free agents because they don't want to block rising prospect Austin Riley, who could be deemed Major League ready as early as next year.
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Though the Braves have evaluated the possibility of gaining much-needed power by adding a third baseman, they remain excited about what the future might hold for Johan Camargo, who is currently slated to handle the third-base duties on a regular basis this year.
Teheran turns to his uncle
Coming off a frustrating season during which he posted career highs in ERA (4.49) and home runs allowed (31), Julio Teheran turned to his uncle Miguel Teheran, a former Braves scout who has long served as the younger Teheran's personal coach.
"We spent a lot of time together this offseason and I think everything is back on track," Teheran said. "Hopefully, I can show it during Spring Training. ... I work with him every offseason, but this year, we focused more on what wasn't working last year. We spent more time talking about how I feel and how I can make it better."
After enjoying a bounce-back season as he gained his second All-Star selection in 2016, Teheran struggled to find consistency last year. He struggled mightily during the first two months at SunTrust Park, but produced one of the game's top road ERAs during the same stretch.
Teheran has made some mechanical adjustments and is attempting to regain a feel for his slider. But the 27-year-old hurler spent much of the offseason trying to decompress and regain confidence. He spent time in his native Colombia, but also enjoyed a European vacation.
"I got a chance to get my mind away from baseball," Teheran said. "That's something we need sometimes."
An early start
As Braves pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training on Tuesday, outfielders Ender Inciarte and Lane Adams counted themselves as the position players who have already made an early arrival to camp. Position players are not required to report until Sunday.
Inciarte actually spent most of the offseason living in the Orlando, Fla., area. He worked out with speed guru Tom Shaw and now will have the benefit of working with new first-base coach Eric Young Sr., a former stolen-base champ who has made a positive impact on baserunners during his previous coaching stints with the Rockies and D-backs.
Along with winning a second straight National League Gold Glove Award last year, Inciarte also significantly added to his offensive value. The 27-year-old center fielder tallied his first 200-hit season and produced career highs in home runs (11) and stolen bases (21), despite battling a sore left foot for most of the season's final four months.
"I met [Young] when I was with the [D-backs]," Inciarte said. "He's a great guy and a great baseball guy to talk to. He has so much knowledge for guys like me in the outfield and with baserunning. I always try to listen to what he has to say because he can help me."
While serving as a backup outfielder much of last year, Adams was perfect with each of his 10 stolen-base attempts in 2017. He will likely get regular time in left field until the Braves deem Ronald Acuna Jr. to be ready.