The Winter Meetings get underway next week in San Diego and there is no shortage rumors circulating around the hot stove. The Atlanta Braves did a lot of work in November retooling their bullpen but figure to be looking for a third baseman and at least one starter.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson figures to be near the top of the Braves’ list but this report by MLB.com’s Richard Justice suggests that Atlanta’s top priority seems to be acquiring a premier starter and mentions both Madison Bumgarner and Zack Wheeler by name.
The Braves already forfeited one draft pick in next June’s draft when they signed Will Smith to a three-year deal earlier this offseason. They would get a comp pick back should Donaldson sign elsewhere. Signing either Bumgarner or Wheeler would cost them another pick.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal discussed both Wheeler and Bumgarner in a notes column from Tuesday. Wheeler has seen a ton of interest from several teams and is poised to cash in with at least one $100+ million offer according to Rosenthal’s reporting. Furthermore, he wonders if Bumgarner might see more interest than was originally expected. Rosenthal also mentions the Braves as one of the teams that is in pursuit of Bumgarner.
It will be interesting to see what comes out of the Winter Meetings next week in regards to Atlanta. If the bidding on Wheeler is already at the $100 million level, then it is really hard to see the Braves being truly involved. However, if the price for Donaldson exceeds their price tag then they could in fact pivot quickly. The Will Smith signing came out of nowhere and it wouldn’t be surprising for another signing or trade to get done without prior warning.
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If Alex Anthopoulos wants to pull a blockbuster deal then he likely has the prospect capital to do so. The Braves currently have five prospects in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 which is headlined by outfielder Cristian Pache at No. 11. That is tied with the Dodgers and Twins and trials only the Padres and Rays who both have six.
A record 40 players were non-tendered by Monday’s deadline and there are some intriguing names that could be a fit for the Braves depending on how they round out their roster.
Hot Stove Rumors
The Cincinnati Reds made a big move Monday landing Mike Moustakas. They are also reportedly one of the teams chasing Wheeler. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that Wheeler’s camp has told clubs that they would prefer to get a deal completed before the start of the Winter Meetings.
Free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon has been actively engaged with multiple teams including a recent meeting with the Los Angeles Dodgers. ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that many executives around the league think that Rendon will be the first big name free agents to come off the board this winter.
Speaking of the Dodgers, they have reportedly held preliminary trade talks with the Chicago White Sox in regards to outfielder Joc Pederson. Pederson is entering his final season of club control and expected to receive an $8.5 million salary through arbitration this winter.
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Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that infielder Ryosuke Kikuchi and right-hander Shun Yamaguchi are each available through the posting process. The posting period officially opened Tuesday morning and will continue through January 2.
The Oakland A’s agreed to a two-year contract with left-hander Jake Diekman on Tuesday. The deal is reportedly worth $7.5 million and also includes a team option for 2022. Oakland acquired Diekman from the Royals at the trade deadline this past season.