2017 MLB Winter Meetings Live Blog (Day 2)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Below you’ll find the latest updates from Day 2 of the Winter Meetings. The newest will be placed at the top.
4:12 p.m. — Heading to the suite to have our daily media session with Alex Anthopoulos. Obviously, not much has transpired, but it’s a good chance to continue to pick the brain of the new man in charge. I don’t think he’s worried whatsoever about having to make a deal to make a statement here in Orlando, but the talks here often lead to the possibility of deal happening down the road.
Meanwhile, tomorrow is the annual manager luncheon, so I’ll have a chance to catch up with Brian Snitker and see what he has in mind for roster construction and needs for the 25-man roster as well as the new coaching staff.
1:58 p.m. — There have been plenty of questions posed to me and plenty of speculation about what Miami may do with its other two, young, talented outfielders. With slugger Giancarlo Stanton now a Yankee, the Marlins can turn their attention to shedding further payroll by dealing away Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. These are two very different players, however.
Most believe that Yelich has the potential to become a superstar, while Ozuna had a quietly dominant offensive season in 2017 and he did so in the shadow of Stanton’s 59-homer campaign. Oh, and throw in a gold glove for Ozuna – something Yelich had won previously.
Bottom line, both men will attract plenty of interest from multiple clubs.
Ozuna, 27, hit .312/.376/.548 with 37 home runs and 124 RBI. He is under team control for two more seasons through arbitration, but Yelich signed a multi-year extension that keeps him under contract for five more seasons if his 2022 team option is picked up. Yelich, 26, has put up a .290/.369/.432 slash line while averaging 15 homers and 18 stolen bases over his first five years in the majors.
Moving one of those two young outfielders will not purely be for salary relief purposes, and neither man will be able to exercise the kind of control that Stanton was able to over trade negotiations thanks to his iron clad no trade provision. Teams that missed out on Stanton, like the Cardinals and Giants could turn their attention to Ozuna as they look to bounce back from off years. Clubs building for the future and taking a more long term approach would prefer to have Yelich, especially when paying the prospect price.
If the Braves were to go for one of the two, you can bet it would be Yelich.
10:21 a.m. — Day 2 won’t start with quite the same fanfare. There’s no Hall of Fame press conference and no $300 million slugger being introduced by his new team today. At least not yet for the latter.
Atlanta has some definite needs as the restructured front office builds out the 25-man roster. While new GM Alex Anthopoulos is no stranger to wheeling and dealing, he’s not looking to pull any trades simply to make a splash at the Winter Meetings. He discussed a “cautious and measured” approach with the media on Monday. This is especially true as he gets to know the cache of prospects in the Atlanta system, which still remains one of the best in baseball.
Does that mean we don’t need to expect any trades in Orlando?
“That can change in a phone call,” Anthopoulos said.
The Braves are definitely in pursuit of trade partners to help them improve the defense, which means veteran corner outfielders Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis are on the block. As you may have heard in my chat with MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (which you can catch here), moving Kemp is the priority and will prove a much more difficult task thanks to the $36 million he’s owed over the next two seasons combined.
As I wrote here yesterday, there’s a case to be made for biting the bullet and eating the money if it comes down to it. However, that’s a decision the Braves would make only after exhausting all options that don’t involve dealing away other, younger talents simply to facilitate a trade. Markakis should be much easier to move and may very well stay put as he heads into the final season of the four-year deal he signed prior to 2015. It goes without saying, the Braves are going to do everything they can to open up a place for super prospect Ronald Acuña to play, whether that’s on opening day or shortly thereafter.
Outside of the the outfield, the Braves could certainly use some veteran arms in the bullpen, likely two of those. Former Brave Peter Moylan is a name that continues to come up. He’d offer some help in the sixth and seventh innings and would also be useful in what is a younger bullpen by in large. The configuration of the bullpen seems to be leaning toward carrying eight relievers. Anthopoulos said that could change throughout the season, because there may be a need to carry an extra reserve player. If the rotation and bullpen are both doing their respective jobs, it could mean that a five-man bench would be preferable. After all, we are talking about a National League team which will need its share of pinch hitters throughout the season. The four-man bench makes that challenging in long games and extra-innings.
Also worth noting, you can count Anthopoulos among those who is looking forward to seeing what Austin Riley has to offer and that’s a factor when planning an upgrade at third base for 2018.
“Short term, we’ve talked about third base,” Anthopoulos told me on Monday. “We think Riley has a chance to be a really good player long term. I know people in the organization are incredibly excited about him and excited about the Fall League.”
Riley, 20, slugged his way through the AFL, finishing second in the league with six home runs and third with a 1.021 OPS. He trailed his teammate Acuña in both those categories. Riley is coming off back-to-back 20 home run seasons and finished 2017 with a good run in Double-A Mississippi. By all reports, Riley continues to make strides with the glove as well, which was a question mark for him during his first season in pro ball. However, he figures to be a 2019 arrival, so the Braves need at third base would be a year or two. In house, the club has the versatile Johan Camargo, a switch-hitter who has made strides at the plate the last two years and could warrant a longer look at third base. Atlanta also has Rio Ruiz in the mix, but the Braves seem set on exploring the FA market and potential trades to bolster the position rather than relying on that duo to platoon at the hot corner. Acquiring a proven veteran would allow for Camargo to fill a super-sub role, where most see his value at its highest.
There are some veterans out there that will command big money, with Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas perhaps the biggest name. While Atlanta won’t get in that derby, veteran Todd Frazier could be a player who makes sense for the Braves on a two-year deal. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about a Martin Prado reunion. The Braves obviously like him, but at age 34, coming off an injury-riddled season and owed nearly $29 million the next two seasons,
the Marlins would have to eat some serious cash to make any deal happen.
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