Just In: 4 big splashes the Braves are set to make after Alex Anthopoulos…

4 big splashes the Braves can make after Alex Anthopoulos sheds salary.

The Braves will look to fortify their roster even further ahead of the 2024 season after shedding some salary at the non-tender deadline.

The Atlanta Braves made the decision to make three different trades leading up to the non-tender deadline, opening up several spots on their 40-man roster and also clearing up some money.

After back-to-back disappointing NLDS exits at the hands of their division rivals, the Braves now seem desperate to put together the best possible roster as they try to win the 2024 World Series. Jim Bowden of The Athletic (subscription required) says “It’s expected they’ll make a huge splash sooner rather than later” after clearing roster space and adding payroll flexibility.

The biggest possible splash Atlanta can make would be signing Shohei Ohtani. Even with their newly found flexibility, that still seems incredibly unlikely. There are, however, four moves that seem to be very realistic for GM Alex Anthopoulos

1) The Braves can sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto after Alex Anthopoulos sheds salary

While an Ohtani signing seems farfetched, the idea of Atlanta swooping in and signing the second-biggest Japanese free agent we’ve seen in a long time could be on Anthopoulos’ mind.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto comes to North America extremely decorated. He’s won three consecutive Sawamura Awards (equivalent to the Cy Young) and seems to only be improving. This past season, he posted a 1.21 ERA in 23 starts and 164 innings pitched for the Orix Buffaloes of the NPB. He struck out 169 batters compared to 28 walks while allowing just two home runs all season. Just absurd numbers.

While a 1.21 ERA certainly wouldn’t be the expectation when Yamamoto makes the transition to MLB, there’s every reason to believe he’ll be an ace. A three-headed monster of Spencer Strider, Max Fried, and Yamamoto would be virtually impossible to top, and with Fried potentially departing after the season, Atlanta still having Strider and Yamamoto would keep them with two frontline arms for the long term.

What should put this over the top for Atlanta is his age. Yamamoto is just 25 years old while the other elite pitchers are around or over the age of 30. Even with a seven or eight-year deal, Yamamoto will be in or around his prime, leaving minimal chance of regression. Atlanta was willing to give several years to a much older pitcher in Aaron Nola, so giving more years to Yamamoto should be no problem.

Yes, there’s a bit more risk with Yamamoto not pitching in MLB before, but there’s every reason to believe he’ll be just fine. Kodai Senga came to the majors with nowhere near the same hype as Yamamoto and wound up putting up Cy Young caliber numbers.

2) The Braves can trade for Corbin Burnes after Alex Anthopoulos sheds salary.

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The biggest pitching signing Atlanta can make would be signing Yamamoto. The biggest trade they can make would be one that’d land them Corbin Burnes. With the Brewers considering dangling the right-hander on the trade block, this offseason could be the time to strike.

Acquiring Burnes would be Atlanta going as all-in as they can possibly be on 2024. They’d have to part with the few quality prospects they have left in exchange for Burnes, a pitcher who is obviously elite, but is also on an expiring contract.

With Burnes and Max Fried both entering free agency after the 2024 season it’s probably unlikely Atlanta strongly pursues a deal like this, but if we’re talking splashes, it can’t get much bigger. A trio of Strider, Fried, and Burnes would be historically good. Three consistent Cy Young candidates on the same staff. Just remarkable.

The Braves are known to make trades and then immediately extend the player they receive in the deal to team-friendly deals. They’ve done so in each of the last two offseasons with Matt Olson and Sean Murphy. Could Burnes be next? Probably not, but doubting Anthopoulos now after everything he’s done would be foolish.

3) The Braves could sign Sonny Gray after Alex Anthopoulos sheds salary

Signing Sonny Gray would be nowhere near as splashy as signing Yamamoto or trading for Burnes, but it sure would help this rotation that still needs another arm. It’s an extremely realistic possibility for Gray to come to Atlanta, if not likely.

Signing Gray would instantly fix the rotation concerns, as he’s remained one of the more underrated pitchers in all of baseball.

The right-hander was as good as he has ever been this past season for the Twins, posting a 2.79 ERA in 32 starts and 184 innings pitched. He led the league in FIP (2.83) and HR/9 (0.4). Gray was an all-star for the third time and he finished as the AL Cy Young runner-up to Gerrit Cole.

Signing Gray would not only help the Braves in 2024, but it’d also come at a fairly low cost when compared to a Yamamoto deal or a Burnes extension. Considering the fact that he’s 34 years old, Gray will only receive a three or four year deal most likely. The AAV would be high, but the years would allow Atlanta to remain flexible with their future commitments.

There aren’t many more perfect fits for Atlanta than Sonny Gray. He’d make them an even bigger favorite in the National League.

4) The Braves can sign Jorge Soler after Alex Anthopoulos shed salary

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Signing Jorge Soler wouldn’t be nearly as big of a deal as Atlanta acquiring any of the other three players on this list, but he’d certainly make an impact. Soler’s short stint in Atlanta was extremely impactful as he helped Atlanta make the playoffs and then won World Series MVP. He has the opportunity to go back to Atlanta and potentially help them win another World Series.

The pitcher additions are pretty easy to fit, but a Soler signing wouldn’t be exactly what they need. In an ideal world Atlanta snags Cody Bellinger, the best outfielder available by far, but that’s extremely unlikely. After Bellinger there aren’t many other great outfielders available, making Soler a player Atlanta could pursue to play left field.

Soler in the field is not good at all. That’s been well established. Having Michael Harris II and Ronald Acuna Jr. in the outfield alongside him should help, however. What Atlanta would gain from Soler’s bat should be worth more than what he takes away in the field. That certainly was the case for Miami this past season.

Soler socked 36 home runs in an all-star season, helping the Marlins make an unlikely playoff appearance. This is a guy with light tower power, hitting as many as 48 home runs in a single season. Sure, Atlanta doesn’t need another bat for the regular season, but having Soler instead of Eddie Rosario in the postseason probably would’ve helped a bit in their loss against the Phillies.

The defense is a concern, as is the fact that he’s appeared in 100+ games just four times in his ten-year career. However, Soler would only have to play in the field for the 2024 season before Atlanta inevitably declines Marcell Ozuna’s club option ahead of the 2025 campaign, and the Braves have more than enough firepower to withstand a Soler regular season injury. It’s all about the playoffs, where Braves fans know Soler can shine.

Again, not the cleanest fit, but it’s one that would certainly make this team better. Atlanta needs a left fielder with Rosario gone. Soler isn’t a good defender, but the bat should more than make up for it, and he should come cheap enough to the point where Atlanta can still add another pitcher (perhaps one on this list) alongside him.

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