Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos is proving sometimes the best way to add is to subtract
In 2017, many Atlanta Braves fans played armchair GM and found creative ways to dump Jim Johnson and Matt Kemp. Alex Anthopoulos must have been listening somehow, as he has already found a way to creatively offload both.
Ironically, both were shipped off to Los Angeles, albeit to different teams. Johnson, to the Angels. Kemp, back to the Dodgers.
Saturday’s Braves-Dodgers bad money swap, which sent Kemp to the city he began his baseball career, checks multiple boxes for the Braves’ off season.
- Move Kemp’s bad contract and equally questionable hamstrings? Check.
- Clear a roster spot for Ronald Acuña? Check.
- Obtain an inning-eating starter without having to hand out a massive contract? Check.
- Add a versatile bench bat? Check.
Alex Anthopoulos’ off-season checklist can now be filed in a drawer for future reference.
Even for as plentiful as the returns are from L.A. (both in contracts and roster spots), the main crux of these deals was to send Kemp and Johnson packing. Addition by subtraction. Kemp, a defense liability, will roam a different outfield in 2018, or find his way into someone’s DH spot. Acuña’s impending takeover improves Atlanta’s lineup and the defense.
Meanwhile, in the Jim Johnson deal, check marks can also be applied to the creative use of remaining international funds, as well as the removal of Johnson from the bullpen. He wasn’t the pariah fans considered him to be, but his results in the second half certainly weren’t pretty.
With the Braves’ stated desire to improve the bullpen, Johnson traded his tomahawk for a halo and headed West. His dismissal improves the bullpen in both morale and overall hard-hit contact rate. With a bevy of arms bound for Atlanta soon, it’s Darwinism in full effect. Survival of the fittest.
This is not to say AA is done for the winter, especially if you believe those Christian Yelich or Adam Duvall rumors. However, in the case of Kemp and Johnson, the creative restructuring of payroll obligations positions the Braves to target a significant free agent signing from next year’s behemoth free agent class.
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Would Bryce Harper consider a future in Atlanta? God help us all if he does.
Would they work out a trade this off-season for Josh Donaldson and extend him before he’s a free agent? It’s an interesting idea. AA has traded for Donaldson before, and is known to laud his overall game. Donaldson is from Braves Country – graduated high school in Alabama and graduated from Auburn – and may welcome a move back to the Southeast.
While adding Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, and Charlie Culberson will help the Atlanta Braves in 2018, the money shed will help in 2018 and beyond. However, the most lucrative acquisition will be the peace of mind that comes from watching someone else pay left field.