At the conclusion of this year’s world series, the Atlanta Braves laid out their plans for the upcoming offseason. The blueprint consisted of one major theme in starting pitching, as well as a lesser theme of finding another catcher. John Coppolella made it clear from the beginning that finding veteran starting pitching was the number one priority, while catching depth was a desire, not a need. With a new ballpark set to open in April 2017, Coppolella has made it clear that being competitive was of utmost importance. Let’s take a look at what they’ve done so far.
Coppolella struck quickly following the conclusion of the World Series, and had two veteran starters signed before the winter meetings ever took place. R.A. Dickey signed a 1-year, $8 million deal (with an option for 2018) with Atlanta on November 10, followed by Bartolo Colon seven days later for $12 million and one year. Even with the two new additions to the already-bolstered rotation, the Braves made a trade that sent Chris Ellis, John Gant, and Luke Dykstra to St. Louis to bring lefty veteran Jaime Garcia, another one year contract. Just for good measure, Coppolella and co. decided to take a flyer on John Danks, a left-hander with a chance for a bounce-back year following a dismal 2016 campaign.
Oh, and Colon isn’t slowing down.
Video Credit: Jesse Sanchez
With the fifth spot being the only question mark in the rotation, the Braves 2017 starting five could look like this, barring more trades or signings:
- Julio Teheran (R)
- Bartolo Colon (R)
- Jaime Garcia (L)
- R.A. Dickey (R)
- Danks, Mike Foltynewicz, Matt Wisler, Aaron Blair, Josh Collmenter.
This is a rotation that has a chance to be competitive in 2017, and was already a major upgrade from 2016 before the Garcia trade ever took place. The thinking in the Brave’s front office is simple: bolster the rotation with veteran inning-eaters on short deals to help bridge the gap to 2018 as the young, high-quality arms continue to develop in the minor leagues.
As noted before, at the beginning of this offseason, the Braves had a desire to add another catcher to their repertoire, but it was not a blatant need. The free agent class for catchers was quite thin this year with Jason Castro, Matt Wieters, and an injured Wilson Ramos being the top three options. Atlanta was involved in talks with Castro who ultimately signed with Minnesota for three years and $24.5 million, a price that was far more than Atlanta was willing to pay. Ramos was never of much interest to the Braves, nor was Wieters.
Atlanta did claim Tuffy Gosewisch from the D-Backs earlier in the year and proceeded to avoid arbitration with a deal just over $600,000, but it looks like the tandem of Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker will be the backstop duo for the 2017 season. The only question that remains at this point is which one will be catching Dickey.
Other moves this offseason
- November 28, 2016. Send right-handers Rob Whalen and Max Povse to the Mariners in exchange for former first-round pick, Alex Jackson (OF/C)
- November 30, 2016. Sign super-utility man Sean Rodriguez to a 2-year $11.5 million deal.
- December 2, 2016. Non-tender Chris Withrow. Avoid arbitration with Paco Rodriguez.
- December 4, 2016. Sign Jacob Lindgren for one-year and $1 million.
- December 6, 2016. Bring back Eric O’ Flaherty on a minor league contract.
- December 8, 2016. Release Williams Perez. Acquire Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for Brady Feigl and Tyrell Jenkins.
- December 9, 2016. Acquire Tyler Pike from Seattle as PTBNL in Jackson trade. Sign Emilio Bonifacio to a minor league contract.
- December 14, 2016. Sign Lane Adams to a minor league contract.
As one can see, it has been a very busy offseason for Coppolella. With a growing list of free-agent signings and trades, the Braves continue to bring about optimism for the upcoming season. Strong additions of starting pitching are expected to help a club that won 20 of its last 30 games in 2016 with less than serviceable pitching.
Busy it has been for Coppy, but he still had time for a great Q&A session via twitter which is definitely worth reading and can be found here.
And here is a video of Rodriguez beating up a Gatorade cooler. Good thing Atlanta is a Powerade city.