The Definitive Blueprint for a Successful Atlanta Braves Offseason
The Braves have already made early moves by offering Brian McCann a qualifying offer and choosing to not give one to Tim Hudson (more on this later).
Of course, there will be much more to come.
While most of the nucleus remains intact, each offseason brings different challenges and opportunities to make improvements on the past season.
It will be no different for general manager Frank Wren and the Atlanta Braves.
Here's a look at one man's blueprint for a successful offseason.
1. Let Brian McCann Walk
The hometown product and longtime fan favorite will almost undoubtedly be wearing a different uniform in 2014, but it's a move that makes sense from the organization's standpoint.
As previously mentioned, the Braves offered McCann a one-year qualifying offer worth $14.1 million.
However, this just guarantees the Braves will be compensated in the form of a pick between the first and second rounds of the 2014 MLB draft.
McCann will undoubtedly decline this offer by the Nov. 11 deadline and test the market, where he will search for a long-term deal (possibly five or six years).
For the Braves, they simply can't afford to offer that type of money and years for a soon-to-be 30-year-old catcher who has caught more than 9,000 innings.
McCann will likely end up in the American League where he can catch and serve as a designated hitter.
It's been a fun ride for the Braves and McCann, but it has to come to an end this offseason.
2. Trade Dan Uggla
The time has come for the Braves and Dan Uggla to part ways.
The 33-year-old second baseman was left off the postseason roster in the divisional series thanks to posting a .179/.309/.362 slash line in 2013 (all career lows).
Many have asked what the Braves could get for Uggla.
Honestly, that doesn't matter.
The Braves are more concerned with finding a partner who will eat some of the remaining $26 million he's owed over the next two seasons.
If the Braves can find a trade partner to take on $4-6 million, that would be a deal worth making.
It will not be easy to trade Uggla, but it's a move that needs to be done for both parties involved.
3. Lock Up Young Studs
The Braves likely won't make a huge splash on the free-agent market with a mid-market payroll.
However, the Braves should look to lock up some of their young players to long-term, team-friendly contracts—most notably Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel.
All three players are eligible for arbitration and Freeman and Kimbrel will especially be paid a significant amount more than 2013 ($560,000/$655,000).
It would behoove the Braves to get these players locked up sooner rather than later.
All three will continue to make more through arbitration as they approach free agency— something the Braves certainly do not want to mess with.
Wren needs to assess these cornerstone pieces and ensure they're in Atlanta for the foreseeable future.
4. Look to Re-Sign Tim Hudson
The other big-name free agent on the Braves roster is Tim Hudson.
The Braves did not offer him the one-year qualifying offer that McCann received—not a surprising move, as he should be signed for much less.
The Braves have many young, up-and-coming pitchers, but Hudson brings veteran experience that is severely lacking.
After struggling to begin 2013, Hudson was on his way to having a nice season (8-7, 3.97 ERA) before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.
Hudson made $9 million this past season, and the Braves will likely offer the 38-year-old a one-year deal in the $7-8 million range.
However, Hudson will garner interest from around the league, so his future remains cloudy.
5. Check Asking Price for David Price
The opinions on David Price have been strong amidst Braves fans—some love the thought of adding Price to lead a talented rotation while others are afraid of what it would take to get him.
Ultimately, I'd say the chances of Price landing in Atlanta are unlikely.
However, the Braves should definitely give the Tampa Bay Rays a call and see if they can work something out.
The asking price for Price will be high, and the Rays are a smart organization.
The Braves do have one of the top catching prospects in Christian Bethancourt, however, and perhaps a package centered around Bethancourt and a couple of pitchers would entice the Rays.
This would be a tough pull for the Braves and may eventually prove too expensive to be worth pursuing.
Time will tell on that, but the Braves should at least make a phone call for the time being.
All statistics according to Baseball-Reference.
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