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Braves Mailbag: Freddie Freeman free agency, Rotation plans and more

This week’s mailbag is full of Freddie Freeman talk, moving Marcell Ozuna and much more

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Pittsburgh Pirates v Atlanta Braves Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Happy Friday everyone! Thank you to everybody that sent in questions for this week’s mailbag. Plenty of Freddie Freeman chatter this week. Let’s get to it!

Do you think the Braves will act quickly in regards to Freddie Freeman and the first base situation when the lockout ends or will they use the wait and see approach?

Ken Rosenthal wrote about this at The Athletic earlier this week. After the lockout is over, I think we are going to see a whirlwind of activity across the league. I wouldn’t be shocked if Freeman was one of the first players to sign and whether or not that is with Atlanta, the Braves would need to move on to the next item on their list or pivot to another first base target. I expect things to pick back up where they were before the lockout and for the big-name free agents to find a home fairly quickly.

I do wish Freddie Freeman to re-sign, however I started to look around for alternatives if he doesn’t return. I looked into trades for a left-handed first baseman and came across Eric Hosmer. Do you think a deal involving Hosmer and Marcell Ozuna could be a starting basis of a trade?

If the Braves can’t sign Freeman, have the Braves discussed a deal with San Diego for Eric Hosmer?

I received two questions this week in regards to Eric Hosmer as a replacement for Freeman and a bad contract swap for Marcell Ozuna. Looking at Hosmer first. He will make $21 million in 2022 and is then owed $13 million for each of 2023, 2024 and 2025. So, $60 million total for the next four seasons. That is at least in the same ballpark as the $53 million that the Braves owe Ozuna from 2022 through 2024 including the $1 million buyout for 2025, but there is more to it than that.

Hosmer’s production has slipped considerably and unless the Braves think they can reverse him, really isn’t that great of an option to replace Freeman. Over the last four seasons, Hosmer’s wRC+s have been 95, 92, 128, 102. That 128 total came in 38 games during the shortened season of 2020. Last season he had a 109 wRC+ against right-handers and an 84 wRC+ against lefties. He has a 79 wRC+ against lefties for his career. Hosmer is essentially a platoon player at this juncture of his career even though he isn’t paid like one. That deal has been a disaster for the Padres since it was signed and it will likely cost them to move Hosmer.

The Padres could possibly use Ozuna’s bat either in left field or as the DH if it does come to the National League. Still, I think Hosmer is a rough fit for Atlanta and is actually under contract for a year longer than Ozuna. The Braves haven’t really said what the plan is for Ozuna but their actions seem to indicate that they are planning on him sticking with the team. I do think there is a deal there to be made with San Diego but it feels like one only after other options are exhausted. Even then I would probably hate it. Moving Ozuna to acquire Hosmer to replace Freeman is a losing proposition for Atlanta.

Ignoring intangibles, Freeman for 6 years $200 million or Kris Bryant for 6 years $160 million and Michael Conforto for 2 years and $40 million? Assume Acuna is back by June 1.

I’d probably take Freeman because I really wouldn’t want to spend that much on Bryant. As of this writing, the Braves have Ozuna, Adam Duvall and Ronald Acuña Jr to fit into the corner outfield spots. What they need is a center fielder. I guess in this scenario Bryant would become the everyday first baseman which could lessen some of the wear and tear on him, but I think I would stick with the known quantity in Freeman.

Note that by pure surplus value, of the three deals, Conforto’s is probably the safest and might provide some surplus. The other two are pretty underwater and that Bryant deal could be terrifying as he ages.

With Ronald Acuna, Marcell Ozuna and either Jorge Soler or Eddie Rosario likely returning, wouldn’t Anthony Rizzo provide adequate offense at 1B while saving money and keeping prospect capital?

If the Braves don’t unload Ozuna then I don’t see a path for the return of either Eddie Rosario or Jorge Soler. At this point, the outfield and DH spot is a math problem. They need a solution in center and neither Soler or Rosario provide that. Rizzo is coming off of a pair of down seasons but would be a much better option that the Eric Hosmer scenario that I discussed above. The price tag on a guy like Matt Olson would be high, but it is worth finding out how high and then weighing their options from there.

It seems like from Alex Anthopoulos’ tendencies he will sign another stater for stability. Do you agree with adding that veteran starter or go with two younger prospect type starters. I believe the tide has changed and it’s time to go with the younger guys.

I very much believe that the Braves need to add another veteran to the mix. On paper they have a lot of internal options, but you need look no further than the past two seasons at how quickly starter depth can get chewed up. I say sign a veteran starter much like they did with Drew Smyly last year and then if one or two of the young starters force him to the bullpen, then so be it. “Too much pitching” has never really been an issue, and even if somehow the Braves end up there, better that than running the risk of too little.

Been watching re-runs of last seasons games. I’ve noticed, more now since reading this site more, that they are showing batting average, and other such types of stats that most here seem to think are outdated and not useful. Do you foresee any time when we might see more of the “stat era” type of numbers identified and listed in the crawl during the game?

If I am not mistaken the local broadcast worked OPS numbers into the lineup cards last year, but I wouldn’t expect much more of that unless there is a complete overhaul of the broadcast booth. I don’t think it is a workable solution to push the numbers onto the broadcast if the on-air talent doesn’t believe in them. Too often, the home broadcast spends more time trying to discredit the advanced numbers than trying to explain how they can be useful.