During the 2020 NLCS, the Atlanta Braves lost a 3-1 series lead to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were eventual World Series winners. That series pointed out a few glaring holes that separated Atlanta and LA.
The Braves have already signed both Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly, which should greatly improve their starting rotation. Since they will likely lose Marcell Ozuna, Adam Duvall and Nick Markakis, the Braves need more power-hitting outfielders. As of now, they only have two starting outfielders on their roster, which is obviously not enough heading into 2021. Atlanta needs to sign another starter and add more bench depth in the outfield to match the production they had last year.
In addition, they lost Adeiny Hechavarria and Charlie Culberson, who were two valuable bench pieces in prior years. It should be a priority to find replacements for these two in free agency. The Braves need to sign impactful free agents to be competitive once again in 2021.
After losing quite a few important outfielders, Atlanta needs to find one who is starting-caliber and is an offensive threat. The Braves have typically not been in the market for huge free-agent contracts, so signing a big name player, such as George Springer, is not likely. Thus, signing Brantley, who headlines the next tier of players, makes a lot of sense. Although not much of a power threat, Brantley is often described as a “professional hitter” who can work the count. He has hit .300 each of the last three seasons and would fit perfectly hitting in between Ronald Acuna Jr.and Freddie Freeman.
The Braves need someone who can hit clean up in the lineup and drive in the top of their order. Additionally, they need a power bat to come off the bench, which is something they lacked last year. Pederson perfectly fits this mold and signing him would make a lot of sense. In 2019, he hit 36 home runs, which would greatly help the Braves. His power could be a sufficeint replacement for Ozuna and Duvall. Not to mention, this would take away talent from the Dodgers, who are the Braves’ main competition in the NL.
Kipnis, now going into his age 34 season, has never been a bench player before in his career. Due to his lack of production in recent years, it seems that now would be the time to make the switch from a starter to a valuable bench piece. After losing Hechavarria and Culberson, Atlanta needs someone who can back up Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies in the middle infield. Albies and Swanson are both relatively injury-prone, so having Kipnis on the roster gives the Braves some sense of security. It is unknown if Kipnis is open to a bench role, but if so, Atlanta is the place to be.
Although one of the Braves’ biggest strengths in 2020, the bullpen is losing two pieces in closer Mark Melancon and set up man Shane Greene. They had a 2.78 and 2.60 ERA respectively and had a tremendous impact on Atlanta as a whole. If they don’t resign either of them, the bullpen will become a weakness, just as it was in 2019. The 2020 saves leader, Brad Hand, would be a perfect replacement and would keep the Atlanta bullpen strong. This move may cement the bullpen’s position as one of the best in the MLB and allow the Braves to stay competitive.
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