The 2021-22 MLB offseason is a few weeks old and some major moves are starting to happen. Like the MLB season itself, the offseason is a marathon rather than a sprint -- though the impending expiration of the collective bargaining agreement throws a giant wrench into the hot stove. Still, baseball's offseason is underway.
With that in mind, we're going to examine each prospective buyer's offseason wish list over the next few days, continuing with the world champion Atlanta Braves. Let's get to it.
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Freddie Freeman, who has been the Braves' regular first baseman for a decade, is a free agent. The Braves are expected to retain his services, but until the ink is drying on a new contract there's always a chance that something could go amiss in negotiations. The Braves, predictably, do not have a great internal alternative. If it's not Freeman, it's going to be some other external addition.
Wish list: Retaining Freeman is (and should be) the top priority. It's hard to envision anyone else playing first base for the Braves next season. If they do let Freeman walk -- and again, it seems unlikely -- maybe Atlanta becomes the top destination for someone like Anthony Rizzo, or perhaps a suitor for Matt Olson or Luke Voit. We doubt it comes to any of that, however.
Alex Anthopoulos spent most of his deadline adding outfielders on expiring contracts: Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, and Joc Pederson. They all played their role in the Braves' World Series win, and now each is a free agent. Atlanta does have a few intriguing internal options: Cristian Pache is a defensive demon in center with question marks about his bat, while Drew Waters struck out in 30 percent of his plate appearances in his first full season at Triple-A.
Wish list: The Braves may well retain one or two of their impending free agents, be it Soler and Rosario or whomever. Factor in their internal depth, and it seems likely that if Atlanta goes outside the organization it would be for someone they deem to have a greater impact. Twins trade target Byron Buxton might be too rich, but might the Braves ponder a run at someone like the Rays' Austin Meadows? Who can say for sure.
The Braves have already addressed their backup catcher situation, signing Manny Piña to a two-year deal earlier this month. As such, we'll focus on the relief corp. The Braves rode the end of their bullpen hard throughout the playoffs, and it stands to reason that Anthopoulos will look to add some depth to his collection of arms -- particularly another good right-handed option or two to balance the Will Smith and Tyler Matzek pairing.
Wish list: As with every contender, the Braves are likely to partake in the game of musical chairs that is the relief market. You can slot in any number of individuals here, ranging from the higher-end types (think Corey Knebel) to the interesting veterans with caveats types (Joe Kelly) to the coach em-up downmarket types (Mychal Givens). Good luck on trying to sort out which individuals are likeliest.
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