This is a project where 30 people got together to act as the GMs of the 30 MLB teams with the idea of conducting the offseason in one week. This is what happened in this simulation, not a prediction of what will happen in real life.

I gave up the St. Louis Cardinals (a team that is the offseason equivalent of “Rookie Mode”) for a steeper challenge in 2016. The Atlanta Braves weren’t completely awful but there were some deficiencies. Let’s talk about the challenges.

Challenges:

Starting Rotation – You have Julio Teheran and then not much else. Mike Foltynewicz and Aaron Blair were both solid in 2016 but there comes a point where you can’t rely entirely on youth. Facing another season of John Gant as a regular starter, I knew that moves needed to be made.

CatcherTyler Flowers is not worth $3 Million and he’s not a player you want starting many of your games. I needed to get a catcher and with Matt Weiters and Wilson Ramos in free agency that seemed doable but I needed to be sure I could afford them.

Tight Purse Strings – I was given a budget around $93 Million to assemble a Braves team. I think the Braves will increase their payroll to $110 Million this offseason, but I had no way of proving that. This meant that I had to improve my roster while saddled with the large contracts of Freddie Freeman, Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis.

Solutions:

Farewell Mr. Markakis – I want to say that, personally, I really like Markakis and it would be much harder for me to trade the outfielder than I made it seem. In the end I traded away Markakis and his $14 Million contract for Zach Duke and his $5 Million one. Duke gave me a second quality setup option in my bullpen, so I didn’t complain.

The Blockbuster Trade – Were I to actually be Atlanta’s GM and make this trade I’d need to worry for my life. I sent the team’s “Golden Boy” to the rival New York Mets for a package of Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Zack Wheeler and Dominic Smith. This trade erased my savings from trading Markakis and eclipsed the savings from trading Freeman while giving our biggest star to a division rival. (Ouch!) The key here was that I got, Georgia’s own, Zack Wheeler and Dominic Smith back in the package. Duda and Bruce would provide offensive support in 2016 but by 2017 I could have the Braves anchored to a younger and cheaper core. Bruce and Duda would be gone after the season if they weren’t good and the Mets would be hard-pressed to bring back Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom in the next few years.

Welcome to the Braves, Mr. Weiters – $14,000,000.00 is a lot of money but it’s also $10 Million less than the Houston Astros would up spending on Ramos. Weiters joined the team and left me with approximately $11 Million to spend on free agents and a complete lineup.

The Mysterious Tyrell Jenkins – When I began to look at my team Jenkins had nothing to do with any of my plans. The Rays were the first to inquire but their offers were either players who didn’t really help my team or required me to trade Ender Inciarte. The Padres came next and offered me a terrible financial deal that involved Homer Bailey, Jared Cosart and Robbie Erlin. Of that trio I only liked Erlin and began trying to get Erlin and a prospect for a player that by all rights, I didn’t even want. Jenkins is a former compensation round pick with solid “stuff” but who has never showed stats that indicate he was much of a prospect. In the end I managed to get Erlin, Josh Naylor, Adrian Morejon and Hansel Rodriguez by throwing in Mallex Smith and $5 Million. Pretty good haul for a player I would have buried in AAA. (Also a small price to pay for Morejon who the Padres spent $11 Million on as an international free agent)

Rounding Out the RosterAustin Jackson, who we signed for the league minimum, came in to bolster the bench. He was nothing fancy but he does have the ability to play everywhere in the outfield. The next player I picked up was Nick Hundley who, at $1 Million, was a steal. Somehow I also went home with Bartolo Colon, Matt Holliday, Pedro Alvarez, Jonathan Papelbon and Josh Edgin without breaking the bank. When the Athletics dropped Jed Lowrie I saw another chance to solidify my bench. Getting so many free agents did push Adonis Garcia, Tyler Flowers and a few others off the team but I can live with those financial losses.

Lineup:
1. Ozzie Albies, 2B
2. Ender Inciarte, CF
3. Matt Kemp, RF
4. Jay Bruce, LF**
5. Matt Weiters, C*
6. Lucas Duda, 1B**
7. Rio Ruiz, 3B
8. Dansby Swanson, SS
9. Pitcher

Rotation:
1. Julio Teheran, RHP
2. Zack Wheeler, RHP**
3. Bartolo Colon, RHP*
4. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP
5. Robbie Erlin, LHP**

Bullpen:
– Closer: Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
– Setup: Zach Duke, LHP**
– Setup: Jonathan Papelbon, RHP*
– Middle Relief: Chaz Roe, RHP
– Middle Relief: Ian Krol, RHP
– LOOGY: Josh Edgin, LHP*
– Long Relief: Josh Collmenter, RHP

Bench:
– C: Nick Hundley*
– CI: Pedro Alvarez*
– MI: Jed Lowrie*
– OF: Matt Holliday*
– OF: Austin Jackson*

Top 25 Prospects:
1. Dansby Swanson, SS
2. Ozzie Albies, 2B/SS
3. Sean Newcomb, LHP
4. Dominic Smith, 1B**
5. Kolby Allard, LHP
6. Ian Anderson, RHP
7. Josh Naylor, 1B**
8. Kevin Maitan, SS
9. Adrian Morejon, LHP**
10. Mike Soroka, RHP
11. Joey Wentz, LHP
12. Travis Demeritte, 2B/3B
13. Touki Toussaint, RHP
14. Max Fried, LHP
15. Kyle Muller, LHP
16. Austin Riley, 3B
17. Nick Plummer, OF**
18. Lucas Sims, RHP
19. Rio Ruiz, 3B
20. Hansel Rodriguez, RHP**
21. Chris Ellis, RHP
22. Ronald Acuna, OF
23. Dustin Peterson, OF
24. Anfernee Seymour, SS
25. Max Povse, RHP

Free Agent: *
Trade Acquisition: **

Final Thoughts:

Going into the exercise it was unlikely that I was going to craft a team that was going to be a sure-fire playoff contender in 2017. I did hold together a lineup that should be able to make games interesting and cobble together a halfway decent pitching staff, especially with the timeless Colon. The real glory of the Braves I’ve assembled starts to be seen in 2019 when the well-stocked farm system (which I bolstered) starts paying dividends. My 2017 Braves may stay in Wild Card contention through the end but this is not a team built to win today. Guess that’s a fitting team, coming from the Minor League blogger.

Position: Name: Salary in Millions
C Matt Weiters 14
C Nick Hundley 1
1B Lucas Duda 6.7
2B Ozzie Albies 0.5
3B Rio Ruiz 0.5
SS Dansby Swanson 0.5
LF Matt Kemp 18.25
CF Ender Inciarte 2.8
RF Jay Bruce 13
IF Jed Lowrie 0.51
OF Matt Holliday 1
Util Pedro Alvarez 0.5
Util Austin Jackson 0.51
SP1 Julio Teheran 6.466
SP2 Zack Wheeler 1
SP3 Bartolo Colon 3
SP4 Mike Foltynewicz 0.5
SP5 Sean Newcomb 0.5
CL Arodys Vizcaino 1.6
SU Jonathan Papelbon 0.51
SU Zach Duke 5
MR Chaz Roe 0.5
MR Ian Krol 1
MR Josh Edgin 0.51
LR Josh Collmenter 2.2
  Money sent to other teams 8
  Opening Day Payroll 90.556
  Available Budget 93
  Money Remaining 2.444

17 comments on “Mets360 GM Project: Atlanta Braves

  • David Groveman

    For those that like the dollars and cents:

    Payroll: $82.556 Mil
    On Books: $8 Mil (Tyler Flowers, who is in AAA and $5 Mil to Padres)
    Total: $90.556 Mil

    Also: Aaron Blair goes back to AAA for some extra seasoning. He, Newcomb and Sims are likely to be in the majors by the end of the year.

  • David Groveman

    Some lineup streaming:

    vs RHSP:
    1. Ozzie Albies, 2B
    2. Ender Inciarte, CF
    3. Matt Kemp, RF
    4. Jay Bruce, LF
    5. Matt Weiters, C
    6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
    7. Lucas Duda, 1B
    8. Dansby Swanson, SS

    vs LHSP:
    1. Ozzie Albies, 2B
    2. Austin Jackson, CF
    3. Matt Kemp, RF
    4. Matt Holliday, LF
    5. Matt Weiters, 1B
    6. Nick Hundley, C
    7. Rio Ruiz, 3B
    8. Dansby Swanson, SS

  • MattyMets

    Nice work, Dave. But one question. Is Terry Collins the new manager? Why else would your best hitter be batting 8th? Swanson is going to be a star.

  • Brian Joura

    Some random thoughts:

    1. I’m not a big fan of the Freeman deal. Wheeler is a huge unknown at this point and Duda/Bruce is a lot of payroll given your circumstances. I’m surprised you didn’t get more youth.

    2. Garcia was pretty good in the second half of the season. I think he had some injury problems in the first half.

    3. The Braves need to bat Swanson higher in the order.

    4. Somehow Matt Holliday on the Braves seems right

    • David Groveman

      The Freeman deal hinges on Wheeler but also frees up a huge amount of money for 2018. If Wheeler returns to form and Smith or Novak hit potential then I win that deal but chances are the Braves fire me for making it.

      Adonis Garcia can certainly hit his way back into the lineup but I’m gonna go with the bonafide power of Alvarez.

      If Swanson earns it, he becomes the #2 hitter

      Holliday on the Braves does fit well. My best deal was probably Markakis for Duke.

  • Eraff

    Let’s pretend I’m the Owner of the Braves… You’re Fired!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You traded your Face of The Franchise First Baseman for a $13,000,00 one year guy…..a 9 million dollar 1 year Guy….. a Prospect and a Sore Arm.

    If you Trade FF, you get Prime Prospects!!! Rosario, Conforto, a as a Starter—and 2-3 more bodies…arms, etc.

    • David Groveman

      Perhaps next year, you can participate.

  • Dan

    Here’s what I see:

    You took a starting rotation that had a lot of questions behind Teheran, and made is a starting rotation that has a lot of questions behind Teheran.

    You took a line up with developing stars, and turned it into a line up full of declining talent.

    You took a bullpen that was decent at best, and completely murdered it.

    You took a bench filled of players who were not yet ready to shine, and turned it into a pre-retirement plan for players who cannot contribute to such a young, developing, organization (even though it no longer truly is one under you).

    You’re grade: F-

    I know as Mets fans, we are not particularly fond of the Braves (to say the least), but as a mock GM, you need to take some care of your franchise. Or maybe I just did not get a clear understanding of what this project/game was supposed to be about…

    Maybe next year you will get a team like the Angels or Marlins. They seem to love acquiring declining players (Pujols, Hamilton, Ichiro, etc.). That is, if they allow you back after this monstrosity.

    • David Groveman

      Thanks for reading Dan,

      Glad to provide you with entertainment.

      • Dan

        Any time. I read on the website that you will be grading everyones performance. I hope you take my comments into consideration 🙂

        • David Groveman

          Alright, time to digest.

          Let’s dissect your issues.

          Starting Rotation: (Before)
          Julio Teheran
          Mike Foltynewicz
          Aaron Blair
          John Gant
          Tyrell Jenkins

          Starting Rotation: (After)
          Julio Teheran
          Zack Wheeler
          Bartolo Colon
          Mike Foltynewicz
          Robbie Erlin

          I traded for a young starter with Ace potential who should be healthy to start 2017 and a lefty who has been a pretty consistant player in his four stints with San Diego. I also signed the “Dominican Donut” to anchor the rotation. Aaron Blair and Sean Newcomb get the time they need to develop and I’m not asking the Braves to watch AAAA players like Gant, Whalen or someone like Tyrell Jenkins who has just not looked good in the majors or the minors. P.S. Gant and Whalen are still in the franchise.

          Lineup of developing stars: Is Albies in the lineup? Yes. Is Swanson in the lineup? Yes. Are Ruiz and Inciarte in the lineup? Yes. Are these developing stars named Tyler Flowers?

          Bullpen: I brought in Zach Duke, who is a quality arm, and added Josh Edgin and Jonathan Papelbon for league minimum salaries. I think those two are worth risks like that. Mauricio Cabrera is still on the team, as are several other possible relievers.

          Bench: I’ll agree to disagree on this. I know some people here love Mallex Smith and I will never be one of them. Adonis Garcia and Daniel Cabrera are still on the team and in AAA.

          Trading Nick Markakis for Zach Duke was an easy win.

          Trading Freddie Freeman was rough but could break in favor of the Braves if Zack Wheeler and Dominic Smith pan out the way I expect them to.

          Trading for Adrian Morejon and Josh Naylor was important as it gave some Dominic Smith insurance and added another potential Ace.

          My free agents are all at approximately their worth or far below market value.

          I disagree with your grade, even if I don’t disagree that I could have and should have gotten more for Freeman.

          I had approximately $20 Mil less than the Braves actually will to spend and only a week to negotiate deals.

          Thanks again for reading. I hope my response helps explain my reasoning. I also hope you participate next year as a GM.

          • Dan

            Well, after reading this 374 word comment, I stand by what I said. This is not how the Atlanta Braves would/should operate, and I hope you have a backup job because this one is not going to last very long. But maybe…just maybe…I’d be willing to bump you up to an F rather than F- 🙂

  • Jonathan Williams

    I wasn’t a fan of the Freeman deal either. I think the Braves and their fans would revolt over a deal like that. Especially going into the new stadium, the Braves need a marketable star player to not only produce but put butts in seats.
    Purely statistically, the lineup is probably stronger. I have to agree with Dan, the pitching did not actually improve. Also what happened to their projected closer Jim Johnson?

  • Chris F

    I guess being a GM is a rotten job David. Interesting you moved Freeman, may I ask the motivation why you did so…and within the division?

    • David Groveman

      I looked at the free agents and knew I needed to trade for pitching. In real life the Braves farm is rife with talent but, in a sim like this, people don’t want guys 2-4 years from the majors. So I had to either trade Albies/Swanson, Inciarte or Freeman. Trading Freeman allowed me to fill two spots in my lineup with expiring contracts and acquire the pitcher I coveted. Could I have asked for more? Yes. The problem is time. I made a deal that favored Matt because in a condensed week I needed to wheel and deal lots of moving pieces. That deal got pieces moving and I don’t regret it. I think Wheeler becomes the #1 pitcher in Atlanta and that he helps guide Aaron Blair and Sean Newcomb into the majors.

      All the people who claime the rotation is worse forget that you had John Gant and other questionable starters slotted as a starter.

      Trading Freeman to the Mets was GM strategerie. I knew the Mets would spend big on Yoenis Cespedes and between those two contracts there is no way the Mets can afford to keep Harvey.

      All that said, if I had been given the $115 Mil the actual Brave GM will have to work with, I would have done things differently.

      • Chris F

        Thanks. Very interesting and such a cool project you guys do yearly. It helps when there is so little else to channel Met energy!

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