But they will be challenged by the New York Mets for the top of the NL East. Here’s a look at some of the MLB free agency moves the Braves completed.
The most significant impact for the Braves in free agency comes from the team’s starting pitching acquisitions. The team landed Charlie Morton from the Tampa Bay Rays and Drew Smyly from San Francisco Giants.
Both players were signed to one-year contracts. The fact that the two pitchers didn’t sign for any longer suggests there might be salary concerns with the team, but the Braves are willing to spend right now to contend for a World Series title.
Morton was one of the Rays’ best pitchers last season. He had 42 strikeouts this past season and is expected to make a significant leap forward, possibly going over two hundred strikeouts in 2021.
The Braves today claimed INF/OF Travis Demeritte off waivers from the Detroit Tigers and released RHP Jeremy Walker. The club’s 40-man roster is full.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) February 12, 2021
Drew Smyly saw a bit of a comeback with the Giants last season. The eight-year veteran had 42 strikeouts, although he didn’t get many wins due to a lack of offense on his team. He aims to have a better record in 2021. Playing behind a stronger offense like what the Braves currently have will help him well in going forward.
Other Free Agents
The Atlanta Braves also acquired outfielder Abraham Almonte from San Diego and utility player Ehire Adrianza from the Minnesota Twins. Both players saw limited action last season, and they are expected to continue their roles as general bench players.
The team retained Josh Tomlin on the free agency market, signing him to a one-year deal. The Braves expect him to be a long reliever this season. Infielder Pablo Sandoval is also back, but he is currently listed as a non-roster invitee. He still hopes to let his veteran presence be a factor in the Braves’ plans for 2021.
Losses of Note
The Braves lost a few prominent players on the free agent market. Felix Hernandez left the team for a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles. Jhoulys Chacin also left for a minor league deal with the New York Yankees.
Both pitchers had been producing diminishing returns the last few years, so it is no surprise they might start the 2021 season in the minors with their new teams. Reliever Darren O’Day also left for the New York Yankees on a two-year deal.
As of early February 2021, the Braves still have a few free agents left to resign. Outfielder Nick Markakis is still open, although the Braves may still do so. But with top outfield prospect Cristian Pache making a good impact last season, there’s a chance that Markakis may be left out of the picture.
Catcher Tyler Flowers and second baseman Adeiny Hechavarria are both on the free agent market. The team may be aiming to bring prospect Alex Jackson into the fold as their new catcher.
A Looming Threat
The Braves will be challenged by the New York Mets, a team that has been especially active on the free agent market. The Mets’ acquisitions of Trevor May and James McCann and their acquisitions of starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Joey Lucchesi on the trade market will make them a viable contender in the NL East.
These points show that the Atlanta Braves are actively working towards being a better team in 2021. While there will be some players who will not return, the Braves still have a great shot of being a force for the coming season.
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