With third baseman and franchise cornerstone Chipper Jones set for retirement, the Atlanta Braves will most likely bring Martin Prado in from left field to take over the hot corner.
Center fielder Michael Bourn is also a free agent, giving the Braves a lot of work to do to fill their outfield gaps.
One short-term solution to fill the left field void at a relatively cheap cost would be to sign free agent Ryan Ludwick, who is coming of a solid bounce-back year for the Cincinnati Reds. Ludwick declined his mutual option for with the Reds for 2013 to become a free agent.
Ludwick hit .275, drove in 80 runs while hitting 26 home runs. The most he has hit since 2008. He also had an OBP of .346 and an OPS of .877. All very solid numbers considering his was only paid $2.5 million in 2012.
If the Braves were able to sign Ludwick, he would give the team a power bat from the right side that will bring some consistency to the line-up and help balance a left-handed heavy offense.
Dan Uggla has been the model of inconsistency at the plate and another right-handed bat would do the Braves well in 2013 if they want to compete for another playoff berth and NL East title.
A two or three year deal, somewhere in the $4-6 million range would work perfect for Atlanta. Ludwick will probably have several suitors this offseason, so it is important for the Braves to act quickly and not let him slip away.
Michael Bourn is as good as gone; the Braves just don't seem to have the money to overpay for his services. Outfield free agents seem to be the most abundant this offseason, the Braves will have to sign a center fielder and most likely a left fielder because the market for a third baseman is the weakest of all positions.
If the Braves can sign two medium cost outfielders, they should consider this offseason a success. An outfield consisting of Shane Victorino, Ryan Ludwick and Jason Heyward sounds like a solid plan to me.
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