Answers On The Fly: A Reader Mailbag
Welcome to another installment of Answers On The Fly. Answers On The Fly is a weekly feature in which we answer questions submitted by our readers. Reader queries are researched by our writing staff, who are highly trained in the ancient and mystical art of Googlejutsu.
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There hasn’t been a lot of Braves news lately, so today’s mailbag is short. You can read it and be back to work in no time!
With all the talk of signing Upton or Cespedes why not wait and grab Bryce Harper when he becomes a free agent . Boras will take him to free agency we’ll have money and a new stadium.
– Johnny L.
Chris Jervis: We covered some of the Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes talk in the most recent podcast. Neither of the players really fits in the rebuild plans on several fronts. Both are good players that would probably be good signings for the Braves at another time, but given where the team is and where they are headed and how they are expecting to get there, neither Cespedes nor Upton seem to be good fits.
Bryce Harper will be a free agent after the 2018 season. He will be 26 years old, and likely coming off some pretty good seasons. So, how much would he cost? USA Today thinks it could be $400 Million. ESPN thinks it might reach $500 Million. Scott Boras has already indicated that it will take a lot of years, in addition to the money.
Scott Boras at the yard today. He laid out a not-so-abstract case for the Nats signing Bryce Harper to a 12-year contract.
— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) August 27, 2013
Boras, asked how two sides could possibly come up with a number that works for a 12-year deal: "It's easy." He's too much.
— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) August 27, 2013
Would Harper fit in the Braves’ rebuild plans? I tend to think so. Why wouldn’t he? He’s a very good young hitter who would be right in his prime. He would provide good power and run production. But that cost…oh, man, that cost. Harper could very well be the first player to have an Average Annual Value (AAV) of $40 million a year. Even with a new stadium and increased revenues, the Braves just are not likely to be in any position to pay that – especially with Freddie Freeman’s last three seasons at $21 Million each. That would be $61 Million for two players, or roughly half of the entire payroll.
It’s a nice thought, but I just can’t see it happening.
1. Are you guys happy that Kelly Johnson is back? 2. For what season do we begin to spend some of the fire sale cash to help the rebuilding progress faster? 3. Which Braves are a lock at their respective positions as it stands now?
– John B. (via Stan H.)
Chris: I really liked the Kelly Johnson signing. He’s cheap, plays a few positions, and has a little pop. He’s a veteran and has some playoff experience, so he should provide a good example for the younger players. And he’s also a guy who could return a B-level prospect if moved at the deadline.
I wouldn’t say there was a fire sale. Typically, a fire sale connotes selling something at below market value just for the purposes of getting rid of it. The Braves came out fairly well on most of their deals. The jury is still out on the Hector Olivera for Alex Wood/Jose Peraza deal and the Shelby Miller for Ender Inciarte/Dansby Swanson deal.
As to the cash savings…most reports I have seen suggest that the Braves are clearing a good bit of cash because they expect to blow past their allocated spending limit in the international signing period that begins this July. Keith Law reports that the Braves already have a “handshake agreement” with huge Venezuelan prospect Kevin Maitan, who has been compared as a cross between Juan Gonzalez and Miguel Cabrera who plays shortstop. Kiley McDaniel, a former writer at FanGraphs and now a Braves scouting analyst, wrote about Maitan almost 18 months ago. While that “handshake agreement” really means nothing (because it is illegal for the team to enter into an agreement with him before his 16th birthday and before the signing period begins), it does show that the Braves are going to be big players in the IFA period this year. And, if they expect to spend more than their allocated bonus, they will also incur a tax that could reach as much as 100% of the contract value. So, if they sign a few big free agents in the IFA period for $10 Million, the cost to the team could actually be close to $20 Millon. Some of the money from moving some of the traded contracts is said to be earmarked for those signings. Also, the Braves are drafting higher this year, meaning they need more money to sign draftees.
First base is clearly locked down by Freeman. Nick Markakis probably has right field locked down, and Erick Aybar has shortstop under control. Center field will belong to Michael Bourn. Hector Olivera has been assigned to left field, and I don’t think that will change to start the season (barring other roster moves). Jace Peterson is a good bet to start at second base, but the Braves would upgrade it if there was a better option available. Catcher will be split between A.J. Pierzynski and Tyler Flowers. Third base will probably be Adonis Garcia and….maybe Kelly Johnson. The starting rotation will be Julio Teheran. After that, Bud Norris and Matt Wisler probably will have spots. Then it’s a Battle Royal between Jhoulys Chacin, Chris Volstad, Kyle Kendrick, Manny Banuelos, Mike Foltynewicz, Williams Perez, and Aaron Blair for the last two spots.