2017 MLB Winter Meetings Live Blog (Day 3)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Below you’ll find the latest updates from Day 3 of the Winter Meetings. The newest will be placed at the top.

11:16 a.m. — Just finished up with Brian Snitker’s media availability and will head over to have the annual manager’s luncheon this afternoon. As usual, he was peppered with roster questions and how he sizes up the returning players, particularly the young talents that will once again be relied upon to help the Braves take a step forward from 2017. With a new GM and front office in place that clearly puts value on the analytics side of the game, Snitker said his conversations with Alex Anthopoulos and others have been “enlightening” and will only help in the efforts to get the maximum return from the team in 2018.

Snitker, who has been in and around the game for over four decades is not altogether unfamiliar with the advanced scouting and metrics that have become increasingly prevalent over the past two decades. However, as a member of the field staff and a minor league manager who has been tasked with development and not encumbered by the statistical influence as much, he is in fact learning on the job and trying to add to his knowledge base in order to better communicate information that may be helpful to his players and ultimately the team.

Here’s what Snitker had to say about his discussion with Anthopoulos so far:

“Yeah, it’s been real interesting to me because I told him, hey, I’m 62 years old, and I spent my entire career relying on my gut and my eyes and getting to know the people that Alex has brought in, it’s been enlightening to me, because this is kind of where we’re at and where we’re going in the game, and I’ve spent the last couple days up in the suite talking to those guys, and they’re showing us the information and there’s a lot to it. It’s very interesting for somebody like me that’s — I don’t have that background.

So it’s going to be real beneficial, and the thing they preface everything by is, “We’re not going to push this on you. We’re going to give you information.” And now I kind of get what I’ve been reading about, what I’ve been hearing about with the analytics side of the game, I’m already understanding what that’s all about and now as these guys say, we’re going to get the information and get it in the players’ hands, it’s kind of like you see what they’re talking about.

It’s going to be good. They have already shown me information I think that the players are really going to latch on to it, and it’s going to be good for them, their careers, day in, day out workings of us playing the game. It’s going to be very useful and it’s going to help a lot.”

This conversation and information obviously extends to the players:

“Players are going to give us their feedback too. You present it all to them and then ultimately they’re the ones that decide what they’re going to use. Us too, as a staff, we’ll get together and I think each guy that has their area or whatever are going to know little things maybe that they want and how they want to present it to the guys. So it’s going to be something that it’s going to be new to all of us, I think, and again it’s going to be very beneficial to all of us.”

How has the success of others club, like the Dodgers, helped him see the benefits of implementing analytics?

“It’s legit stuff. I’m seeing things that — I think the thing that I think it’s going to be a really — it’s for the players. How they break things down. It’s not going to be negative stuff to these guys either, it’s going to be things that can help them to get better and it will be up to them, what they want to grab hold of and use, but I think there’s going to be a lot of guys that I think that some of the information that they’re going to give them is going to be good for them. It’s going to give them another avenue to try and to improve their game. So I think they’re going to like it.

Nothing but positive is going to come out of the whole thing. They made it very clear they’re not going to ram things down your throat, but there’s information there. I understand now they talk about the manager getting it in the hands of the players, what to give them. I think that you talk to them as they learn it, they understand it, they’re going to know and probably want more in some situations too, but it is very interesting stuff.”

What is the plan for Dansby Swanson heading into 2018, following a very up and down rookie season?

“Things change as we go. You start the season with a plan and with a lineup, and then things have a way of working themselves out and things change. I think it was another — again, we forget I think, too, with Dansby that he had going into this year he had a year total, I think, of professional experience. Because that first year he didn’t do a whole lot. He didn’t play a whole lot.

So that was a big year, it was a big year for him last year. Now he’s going to go into this year a lot more prepared, I think a lot more versed in what to expect when we get to Spring Training. Last year he probably thought he did but then it didn’t go like we wanted. Earlier in the year he had a lot of hard-hit balls that were caught. To his credit he kept working, he kept playing, went down, came back, and finished the year okay.

So we like Dansby a lot and I think again we like all the young players last year, it was a really beneficial experience year for him.”

What has impressed Brian Snitker about Ronald Acuña, and how realistic are his chances to break camp with the big club this spring?

“Well, I think he’s just has to do what he does. I mean, like I say, last year he came in as a very impressive young man, I was most impressed about the adjustments he would make on the fly and in at-bats and again the kid’s skill set defensively, what he brings offensively, the potential is going to be really good. We’ll get him down there and he’ll be part of the mix and see where he’s at.”

8:50 a.m. — Heading over the Swan and Dolphin for the last full day here in the Orlando area. A very quiet Day 2 could give away to some movement in Day 3. Or it may not. There seems to be some action on the relief market, with the Phillies signing a pair of relievers, which is very much something the Braves would like to do at some point this winter.

I posted the latest Around The Big Leagues podcast following our Day 2 chat with Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos (Hear it here). We talked about analytics, the young core of the team, possible moves and the impending arrival of super prospect Ronald Acuña.

There are plenty of trade rumors swirling this time of year, with Atlanta looking to deal away a corner outfielder (or two) and perhaps looking to acquire one as well. Christian Yelich of the Marlins stands out as an obvious target and many clubs are interested in his services. While no GM is going to dangle the names of the players he’s pursuing, Anthopoulos told me the Braves continue to monitor the market for the right players, the right deals and the right moves in general:

“There’s a lot of good players out there and we’d love to say ‘hey, we made some transactions.’ Conversely, people are going to ask for our good players so that’s where it gets challenging. And then also you’re going to weigh things like the years of control. Some names have already been reported, but obviously there’s some rumors out there and some names of some really good players, but maybe the club control is not very appealing to us. You’re always weighing that off too. We’re trying to build something that’s going to be sustainable that’s going to be long term. But the fact that good players are out there, you’re still going to engage [in talks] and see if there is a fit and if we can get a deal done.”

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Grant McAuley covers the Braves and MLB for 92-9 The Game. You can subscribe to the “Around The Big Leagues” podcast on iTunes, Google Play, SoundCloud and Stitcher.

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