DEAL: Trading The Star and 2 possible Contracts, Braves..

3 moves the Braves need to make before the Winter Meetings.

The Braves need to strike early this offseason because this market could get wild in a hurry.

The success or failure of this offseason for the the Atlanta Braves could very well all come down to timing. With the presence of some really high profile (and very expensive) free agents like Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the market is moving very slowly while the league waits to figure out where those guys are going to sign. It is well-known that Alex Anthopoulos likes to strike early in the offseason, but that has proven easier said than done.

The good news is that the Braves have made some progress. Not only did they bring back some quality bullpen arms, but the signing of Reynoldo Lopez gives Atlanta a high ceiling arm that can help out of the bullpen and potentially their rotation as well although the latter could be tough to pull off in practice. With the Winter Meetings coming up really soon, though, the Braves need to figure out a way to make their move before the market goes wild.

Here are 3 moves that the Braves need to make before the Winter Meetings get started

The reality of this situation is that the Braves could easily not get to choose how the market behaves. Free agents and other teams are well aware of the freezing effect that Ohtani and others are having currently and forcing a move via overpaying isn’t likely to work out well. However, the sooner the Braves can get their roster set going into 2024, the less likely it is that Atlanta could find themselves in bidding wars all over the place once those teams that lose out on the top guys start throwing their weight around trying to get consolation prizes.

These are a few of the moves that the Braves need to make before the first week of December when the Winter Meetings get cranked up.

Trade Vaughn Grissom to the Red Sox

Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Braves promoting infielder Vaughn Grissom  after Ozzie Albies injury - DraftKings Network

The Braves have been very public about their position that Vaughn Grissom is a guy whose bat they believe in. They have even gone as far as to say that Grissom is a strong candidate to play left field despite the fact that he has never played the position.

All Braves fans should take this narrative with several grains of salt. We saw last offseason when the Braves were selling the “Vaughn Grissom could be a great shortstop” narrative really hard and then they surprised everyone by handing the job to Orlando Arcia out of spring training. They may like Grissom, but this feels more like a PR campaign to try and boost Grissom’s value and to potentially brace fans for the idea that they aren’t going to sign a left fielder than anything else.

The problem with Grissom is that he isn’t really an impact bat in addition to the fact that he hasn’t really seen time in the outfield. However, he could be really useful to a team that needs middle infield help and the Braves should capitalize on that value by trying to move him to the Red Sox.

The Red Sox have a farm system that is loaded with position player talent, but top prospect Marcelo Mayer is dealing with a shoulder injury and Boston could use a boost at second base. Trading Grissom to Boston would allow the Braves to replenish their minor league depth a bit while giving Boston a major league ready middle infielder who should hit. Moving Grissom would also make it where the Braves have to go get an actual impact left fielder which leads us to….

Bring back Jorge Soler

Jorge Soler agrees to three-year deal with Marlins - Battery Power

Braves fans fondly remember Jorge Soler’s time with Atlanta. All the guy seemed to do was hit the snot out of the ball and his home run in the 2021 World Series which (possibly) hasn’t landed yet was a seminal moment during the Braves’ title run and crushed Astros fans’ dreams simultaneously.

Soler ended up leaving in free agency to join the Marlins and while his first year in Miami didn’t go well as he was banged up, his 2023 season was much better as he posted an .853 OPS with 36 homers. Rather than stick around with the Marlins for 2024 on his existing deal, Soler opted out of his $13 million option and hit the free agent market once again.

Jorge isn’t going to win any Gold Gloves out in left field and swapping him into DH and putting Ozuna in left also probably wouldn’t help the outfield defense situation. However, what a reunion with Soler would do is lengthen the Braves’ lineup even more while also giving Atlanta an insurance policy in the event that Marcell Ozuna turns into a pumpkin (again) or does something stupid (again).

Is this altogether likely? Probably not. The Braves do seem willing to spend on a big name right now, but their focus is on the pitching market. Soler wouldn’t come cheap as he just left $13 million on the table in Miami, but it is a move the Braves really, really should consider before the big market teams start throwing money around during and after the Winter Meetings.

Sign Sonny Gray

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

This is the biggest move that the Braves need to make happen as soon as humanly possible. Starting pitching is the strength of this free agent market to be sure, but a lot of the top names come with a fair amount of risk whether it be inexperience, injury history, or questions about their pitching profile. Sonny Gray doesn’t come without some warts on his resume, but the fit with the Braves and how they like to operate is too good to pass up.

Gray has dealt with some injuries in the past and he is 34 years old, but he also has averaged a 3.22 ERA over the last five seasons with 9.8 K/9 and he just finished second in the AL Cy Young race in 2023. Unlike (probably) guys like Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Gray also isn’t likely to require a long-term deal with a three or four year contract probably being sufficient.

For a Braves team that does not like to give free agents (especially pitchers) long-term, big money deals, Gray is right in their wheelhouse. With Max Fried’s future in Atlanta very much in question and Charlie Morton’s career winding down, the Braves need to solidify the top of their rotation and Gray is a perfect match for what Atlanta would like to do this offseason.

Of course, the issue is that half the league at least would love to add Gray as well and that makes getting a deal done quickly problematic. Gray’s camp is likely fielding calls all day, every day as he tries to make a decision on where he is going to play next season and beyond. It is possible that he knows that if he waits, more teams could enter the fray for his services and that will mean more money potentially headed his way. If the Braves want to avoid a bidding war, they are going to need to make a strong offer and quickly while having a strong back-up plan if that doesn’t work out.

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