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Braves Mailbag: Marcell Ozuna trade, Kris Bryant, next manager .

Troubles Behind Him, Marcell Ozuna Shows Atlanta Braves His Swing And  Swagger Are Back

Thank you to everyone who sent in questions for this week’s Atlanta Braves mailbag. It has been a busy week around here but we are excited and ready to move forward. We received several good questions this week so let’s get to it.

We all know how difficult trading Marcell Ozuna would be, but what do you think about the possibility of a matchup with the White Sox where the Braves take back Craig Kimbrel? The White Sox are looking for offense and rumored to want to rid themselves of Kimbrel’s Contract. Could a deal make sense?

There has been a lot of speculation in regards to the Braves moving Ozuna, but I think it is important to point out that we still don’t really know how they feel about the situation. The team issued two statements, but we have yet to hear from Alex Anthopoulos or anyone else on the matter, aside from a pretty noncommittal response from manager Brian Snitker in an interview with The Athletic a few weeks ago. So maybe they are looking to move him, maybe they aren’t.

Looking at Roster Resource, the White Sox have an opening at DH, although they also have former first round pick Andrew Vaughn waiting in the wings. Overall, their corner-outfield-plus-DH situation could use some work. A lot of teams prefer to use the DH spot to cycle players through rather than just pencil in one player. That is something I expect the Braves to get to at some point as well.

Kimbrel looked like Kimbrel while with the Cubs, allowing just two earned runs over 36 2/3 innings to go along with a 1.10 FIP and a 1.99 xFIP. However, following the trade to the White Sox, those numbers jumped to a 5.09 ERA and a 4.56 FIP over his next 23 innings.

I think the difficulty comes in the contracts. Kimbrel is owed $16 million in 2022 and will be a free agent next offseason. Ozuna is owed $53 million over the next four seasons including his buyout for 2025. The Braves would have to send along money, which may not be something they would be willing to do, and the White Sox might not want that long of commitment in the first place given their current roster.

I think it is going to be really hard to move Ozuna.

On a recent fan chat on MLB Trade Rumors, the host said the Braves would have to include Michael Harris or Shea Langeliers in any deal for Olson. If true, wouldn’t that rule out any deal?

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No I don’t think it would. Right now the Braves have a strength at catcher. Travis d’Arnaud and Manny Pina are both signed up for at least two more seasons. William Contreras is on the 40-man and has had a taste of the majors already. He also put up good numbers at Gwinnett after his demotion. Langeliers is probably going to start at Triple-A this season. The situation is pretty crowded already.

I don’t think it is likely that they would move Harris yet, but dealing a catcher would be in play if warranted. One thing about Harris is that while he’s gotten quite a lot of hype, it’s not clear how that’s translated to value. For example, he failed to make Fangraphs’ Top 100 list, which means he’s a 45+ FV at best, which represents a big value hit over a 50 FV. If a buying team, like the Athletics, has an evaluation that aligns fairly closely to something like “Harris is not a 50 FV prospect,” then he probably doesn’t move the needle much in trade negotiations anyway.

Without disclosing specifics, are the Braves ready once the lockout ends to move forward decisively in several areas such as 1B, P, and CF?

I think I discussed this in the last mailbag, but all teams will be ready. The lockout prohibits interaction with the players but front offices are still working. If we have learned anything during Alex Anthopoulos’ time with the Braves, it is that he is capable of pivoting quickly. You can’t do that if you are unprepared and don’t have a plan.

Do the Braves see Kris Bryant as a possible backup solution to replace Freddie Freeman either at first base or by using him at third base and moving Austin Riley to first?

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Haven’t seen anything linking the Braves to Bryant that I can remember, but you would have to think he would be on the radar. For me it would come down to the price. There is enough injury risk there that I would be hesitant and if his price tag is in the ballpark of Freeman. If it is, why not just pony up and go with the known commodity and 2021 postseason hero? If such a move were made, I think it would be Bryant at first if for no other reason than to limit some of the wear and tear on his body.

How much continuity of coaching philosophy extends through the Brave’s minor league levels?

This is a good question and it is something that I wonder about every time we see a lot of turnover on the minor league coaching staffs. Alex Anthopoulos took over in November of 2017. I think things are probably a lot more cohesive now than they were when the change of leadership was fresh.

Who would be a good internal replacement for Snitker once he decides to retire? He seemed to hint at retiring at the end of his current contract to be with his family and grandkids. I’d like to see a replacement come from the organization the way Snitker did.

I didn’t get the sense that Snitker is considering retiring, but it is a fair question given his age and the fact that now he’s won a World Series. I think that if you look at the coaching staff, Ron Washington is obviously the name that jumps out at you, but I wouldn’t count out Walt Weiss either. Weiss has served as bench coach since the 2018 season. Beyond that it is hard to say. It feels like more often these days, managers are coming from non-traditional places.

If Freddie Freeman were to chase the money to New York or return home with the Dodgers, what do you think his reception would be like in Atlanta when he returned for the first time?

Another great question. I would hope that the reception would be positive. No matter what, Freeman spent his best years in Atlanta with a Braves uniform. He wore it with pride and was a consummate professional all the way, even when he didn’t have to be, with the team around him being a giant mess. He could have very well asked out as the team was stripping down the roster and preparing to rebuild. He didn’t and it paid off in a World Series win in 2021. I am sure there will be some people that are upset, but if he leaves, he should be celebrated when he returns.

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