Just what are the Atlanta Braves doing? That seems to be the question this winter around the baseball community. Atlanta dealt way Jason Heyward, the one-time face of the franchise, to the St. Louis Cardinals (ESPN, Nov. 17). They then parted ways with Justin Upton, and his 29 home runs in 2014, trading him to the San Diego Padres (Nightengale, Dec. 19). Atlanta did go out and sign outfielder Nick Markakis to a four-year deal, however that came with an array of concerns surrounding his age, health, and the length of years on the contract (Bleacher Report, Dec. 23).
Even an argument can be made about the Grilli signing. He had success with the Pittsburgh Pirates as their closer in 2013, making the All-Star team, with 33 saves. However, Grilli struggled after that, lost his closer’s job, and eventually was dealt to the Angels. At 38 years old, Grilli’s addition to the Braves almost seems counter-productive to what they’re trying to do.
The Braves are clearly in a rebuild mode that may take their fans some getting used to, especially with how they’re going about it.
This blog has been in the works for a while, there’s a great deal to talk about in baseball with teams positioning for 2015 and beyond. You’re welcome to analyze, comment, and debate. All opinions are welcomed.
Jon Lester, arguably the biggest name on the free agent market this winter, found a new home with the Chicago Cubs. They beat out the Giants and Red Sox with a 6-year, $155 million deal to get the left-handed to become their new ace starting pitcher. Lester’s the real deal with a 116-67 career record, two World Series championships, and a no-hitter. Lester, along with the hiring of Joe Maddon as manager, give the Cubs instant credibility.
It can’t be ignored this winter what’s been happening with the San Diego Padres. The team’s new general manager A.J. Preller, through the trade market, went out and acquired Matt Kemp from the Dodgers, Wil Myers from the Rays, and Justin Upton from the Braves. On paper, the moves make the Padres significantly improved on offense, they ranked last in Major League Baseball with a .226 batting average. Myers could very well, down the line be packaged in a deal, as rumors have began to circulate the Philadelphia Phillies could be interested. However, the aggressive nature of Preller has everyone talking, which is exactly what you want while trying to revive a struggling franchise.
The Yankees are in the news, while that’s not surprising to anyone that follows the hot stove, it’s what the Yankees are not doing, that’s raised my eyebrow. Unlike the high-profile moves in San Diego, the Yankees have mostly remained below the radar this winter. They didn’t stand in the way of their closer, David Robertson, allowing him to sign as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox (AL.com, Dec. 9th). The argument can be made, with the re-signing of third baseman Chase Headley followed by the trade of Martin Prado to the Miami Marlins, that the most-talked about move made by the Yankees was the acknowledgement of Alex Rodriguez not having anything handed to him in 2015. That’s quite the 360 from a year ago when the Yankees went on a free agent shopping spree that netted them Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brian McCann. However, after another year without a playoff berth, the Yankees are clearly a team in transition. They’re not looking for the quick-fix with their money, they’re a team eager to get healthier and younger, preferably in a cash-effective manner.
There have been an array of moves made this winter with a few more remaining on the board. It remains to be seen which teams back up the brinks truck for the two top starting pitchers remaining on the market, Max Scherzer and James Shields.