• Atlanta Braves welcome the official start of the off-season
    by Alan Carpenter on October 28, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    The off-season is upon us, and the Atlanta Braves will have some work to do. The World Series went almost as anticipated (predication just missed thanks to a whacky end to Game 4), and the Atlanta Braves now have to figure out how to rebuild a stout team to begin a new assault on the Atlanta Braves welcome the official start of the off-season - Tomahawk Take - Tomahawk Take - Atlanta Braves News & Fan Community

  • 2020 Atlanta Braves Player Reviews: Mark Melancon
    by StatsSAC on October 28, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports Whether it was closing games or catching playoff home runs, Mark Melancon provided plenty of the stability to the Braves bullpen. At the 2019 MLB Trade Deadline, Mark Melancon was the latest in a a long line of surprising, significant, and controllable trade acquisitions that Alex Anthopoulos has produced in his different stops as a general manager. Along with Chris Martin and Shane Greene, Mark played a significant role in the transformation of the Braves bullpen into one of the best relief units in the game. He also provided long needed stability in the role of closer for the Braves. Entering 2020, despite already having significant financial commitments in place for Melancon, the Braves significantly invested in both quality and depth for their bullpen, signing Martin and talented southpaw Will Smith to multi-year deals and holding on to Shane Greene in his final year of arbitration. However, despite plenty of options to utilize, manager Brian Snitker remained steadfast in his commitment to Melancon as the primary closer. Though Melancon did see a bit of decline in the quality of his pitches (not surprising in his AGE-35 season), Snitker’s decision to stick with him in the ninth ( and in a few cases the seventh) proved to be wise. WHAT WENT RIGHT: On the surface, Melancon did exactly was the Braves needed for him to do. Over 22 2⁄3 innings in 23 total appearances, Melancon was 2-1 with a 2.78 ERA and produced 11 saves in 13 opportunities during the regular season. With the unexpected struggles of Smith, Melancon emerged as the clear preference to secure wins for Atlanta. When also considering the struggles of the starting rotation, the stability Melancon provided was highly valuable. Furthermore, Melancon proved to be even better in the postseason. Over 6 1⁄3 innings in seven total appearances, Melancon did not allow a walk or an earned run while recording two saves and five strikeouts. He consistently got the job done when he was called upon, and while he was not Automatic against the Dodgers, he did secure the victories in Game 1 and Game 2 for Atlanta in the NLCS. Another aspect of the value Melancon has provided in Atlanta is his role as a veteran leader on this team. For the second straight year, especially in the playoffs, Melancon was a source of fun, positivity, support, and confidence. It certainly seems as if he has cherished his time with this team, and same can be said for the team in terms of Melancon. For whatever value you place on that, he certainly has been a great addition to the culture of a clubhouse that loves to have fun and support each other. WHAT WENT WRONG: Though Melancon’s counting stats remained strong in 2020, he did experience some noticeable declines in his supporting numbers. His K/9 rate dropped from 9.09 in 2019 (second highest of career) to 5.56 in 2020 (lowest since 2009 rookie campaign). While the value of his four-seam fastball did improve from 2019, his cutter and curve dropped, and his velocity on his fastball was the lowest of his career. Overall, the impact on Melancon’s numbers seemed to indicate he was a bit luckier than usual, as his FIP (3.72) and xFIP (4.42) were at their highest marks since 2012 and 2009, respectively. Simply put, Melancon was easier to hit and the effectiveness of his secondary pitches dropped in 2020. This likely is not all that surprising since Melancon is now 35 years old, and will be 36 before Opening Day in 2021. While he certainly can still get the job when called upon, he seems to be at a higher risk of running into trouble than he has been in the past. OUTLOOK FOR 2021: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports Overall, Melancon clearly added value on and off the field for the Braves in 2020. As a result, he now enters free agency in a much better position that some may have anticipated would be the case as he was fighting back from injury during his time in San Francisco. With his experience as a closer, Melancon may be attractive to other teams as a ninth inning or back end of the bullpen option and could receive a lucrative offer as a result. However, it is very likely Melancon will have a preference to stay with the Braves. It seems likely Atlanta would be open to him returning. If Melancon gets an offer for multiple years with an average annual salary above $8M, it may be wise for Atlanta to avoid matching that type of commitment. However, if the Braves could resign Melancon for a similar contract to what they gave Chris Martin (two years, $14M), or could structure it like they did Darren O’day’s contract with a one year deal followed by a team option, a return to the Braves could make sense. With his declining effectiveness, the first year could be in the $7M-9M range with team option being for a bit lower. Overall, while it would be smart for the Braves to not ignore Melancon’s age and or signs that his pitching talent is not what it once was, it is also important to value the stability he has provided the bullpen and the support he has provided his team during his time in Atlanta. If the financial figures make sense, it seems both Melancon and the Braves would both embrace and benefit from another run(s) at a title or two in the near future.

  • Braves Flashback: David Justice goes from hated to hero in one swing (also Atlanta wins World Series)
    by DarrylPalmer4 on October 28, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Braves right fielder David Justice hit a home run for the only run of Game 6 of the 1995 World Series, which clinched Atlanta’s first championship. (Getty Images) Braves won city’s lone pro sports 25 years ago today Oct. 28, 1995, was quite an eventful 24 hours for David Justice. The Braves right fielder began the day perhaps the most-hated man in Atlanta and ended it as among the biggest reasons the team had won the first (and still only) professional sports championship in the city’s history. It was Justice’s sixth-inning home run that provided the only run in a 1-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series, which took place 25 years ago today. Tom Glavine’s eight innings of one-hit ball in Game 6 are probably the most-lasting aspect of that day and that World Series, but it was Justice who had the most-interesting character arc. In one swing of the bat, he went from ultimate villain to ultimate hero. Justice later admitted that on that day, he’d been under “the most pressure I’ve ever felt in my life.” He told Sports Illustrated’s Tim Kurkjian that he spent some time alone before Game 6 to “clear my mind.” “My head hurt, my stomach hurt, and all I could think about was going out on the field and getting booed by 50,000 fans,” Justice told SI. “I really don’t know how I got through today. The pressure was unbearable.” Of course, it was almost entirely of his own making. The first two games of the 1995 World Series (both of which the Braves won) were played before capacity crowds of 50,000-plus at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, which by that time was hosting the Fall Classic for the third time in five years. When the Series shifted to Cleveland for Games 3, 4 and 5, it was perhaps understandable that Indians fans — who had not experienced the World Series since 1954 — would be a little more raucous. The Indians won two of the three games at Jacobs Field, including a 5-4 win in Game 5, which was played on Thursday, Oct. 26. It was the next day that Justice — who it must be noted was hitting .214 with no extra-base hits in the series — erupted with invective toward Braves fans. Friday, Oct. 27, was an off day back in Atlanta, and Justice — the 1990 National League Rookie of the Year and a 40-home run hitter in 1993 — met with reporters for close to 15 minutes after rain wiped out a team workout. On the day of Game 6, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution carried a story with the headline “Justice takes a rip at Braves fans.” “What happens if we don’t win?,” Justice asked Braves beat writer I.J. Rosenberg. “When’s the parade then? They’ll run us out of Atlanta. “If we don’t win, they’ll probably burn our houses down. We’ve got to win. And if we win, it’s for the 25 guys in here, the coaches and Bobby [Cox]. It is for us. Like the song ‘[You and me] Against the World.’ It’s us against the world. I’m the only guy that will sit here and say it, but there are a lot of people that feel this way. “If we get down 1-0 tonight, they will probably boo us out of the stadium. You have to do something great to get them out of their seats. Shoot, up in Cleveland, they were down three runs in the ninth inning and they were still on their feet.” David Justice, shown here in Game 2 of the 1995 World Series, had one of the sweetest left-handed swings of his generation. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)A number of Braves teammates, including Glavine and Game 4 starting pitcher Steve Avery, tried to refute Justice’s words, but the damage had been done. Justice was Public Enemy No. 1 heading into Game 6 of the World Series. NBC made Justice’s rant a major part of its Game 6 coverage, with reporter Jim Gray conducting an interview with Justice prior to the game and play-by-play man Bob Costas and analysts Joe Morgan and Bob Uecker making numerous references to it during the broadcast. Braves fans at Fulton County Stadium also made their voices heard, booing Justice during pre-game introductions, and when he came up to bat leading off the bottom of the second inning. Other fans made their point through the written word. One fan held up a sign that read “Justice — Hope your bat is as big as your mouth.” Justice drew a walk off Indians starter Dennis Martinez, but was erased in an inning-ending double play. Glavine held Cleveland hitless through the first four innings, and Justice came up again with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. He ripped a double to the left-center field gap, drawing cheers for the first time all night. The Braves again failed to score, however, as Ryan Klesko was walked intentionally and Javy Lopez walked unintentionally to load the bases, and Rafael Belliard popped up to left-center. Glavine allowed what would prove to be the Indians’ only hit leading off the sixth, a single by Tony Pena. Pitcher Jim Poole — who had replaced Martinez to retire Fred McGriff the previous inning — botched a sacrifice bunt for the first out, then Kenny Lofton reached on a fielder’s choice but was stranded on second when Omar Vizquel fouled out to end the inning. That set up Justice’s moment of immortality. The lefty-swinging Justice led off against lefty-throwing Poole in the bottom of the sixth, and took a 1-1 fastball up and in and slapped it over the wall in right-center field. The ball crashed off the back wall next to the United States Postal Service sign at Fulton County Stadium, and Justice pumped his fist as he rounded first. The crowd of 51,875 erupted in cheers. Morgan put it succinctly on the NBC broadcast when he said “It’s OK to talk the talk if you can walk the walk.” Here’s video of the home run: That would be all the damage in the inning vs. Poole, and Justice tipped his hat to cheering when he took his place in right field for the top of the seventh. Glavine worked around a two-out walk to keep it a 1-0 game. The Braves loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the inning off lefty Alan Embree, but Mike Devereaux — who’d replaced Klesko in left field the previous inning for defensive reasons — popped up to second. Glavine got the Indians 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth. With the score still just 1-0, Cox sent Luis Polonia up to hit for Glavine in the bottom of the inning. Polonia struck out swinging vs. former Braves left-hander Paul Assenmacher, sending the game to the ninth. Braves closer Mark Wohlers — who’d allowed one run in four innings in three previous World Series appearances — then took the hill. He got Lofton to foul out, then retired Paul Sorrento on a fly ball to center. You all know what happened next. Swinging at the first pitch, Carlos Baerga lined the ball into left-center field, but into the glove of the Braves’ Marquis Grissom. Skip Caray’s Braves radio call — with an excited Joe Simpson screaming in the background — remains iconic. (He also got in a little Justice-esque dig at Atlanta fans). “Fifty-one thousand on their feet. Nobody’s left to beat the traffic tonight, I guarantee you. Mark gets the sign. The wind and the pitch, here it is. … Swung, fly ball deep left-center! Grissom on the run … Yes! Yes! Yes! … the Atlanta Braves have given you a championship! Listen to this crowd!” Here’s video: Glavine was named the World Series Most Valuable Player, having posted a 1.29 ERA with four hits allowed and 11 strikeouts in 14 innings across his two starts. (He allowed two runs in six innings of a 4-3 victory in Game 2). Justice wasn’t even the Braves’ best hitter in the series; that was Klesko, who posted a 1.296 OPS with three homers in 16 at-bats. McGriff and Polonia had also out-hit Justice, who ended the series with a .250/.400/.450 line with five walks and a team-best five RBIs. Though his home run had largely already done so, Justice made his peace with Braves fans following the game. He’d told reporters before Game 6 he was engaging in a bit of reverse psychology to try and fire up the hometown crowd, but backed off even those comments in the championship afterglow. “The fans proved me wrong,” Justice told SI. “They were gems tonight.” Sadly, the 1995 World Series would be the last October heroics for Justice in Atlanta. He missed all but 40 games of the 1996 season with a shoulder injury, watching from the dugout as the Braves lost the World Series in six games to the New York Yankees. Just days before the 1997 season began, the Braves did the unthinkable. Desperate to cut payroll with Glavine and Greg Maddux coming up for contract extensions, Atlanta dealt Justice and Grissom to Cleveland for Embree and Lofton, a pending free agent. (The deal netted a contract savings of $7.7 million for the Braves, who signed Glavine to a 5-year, $34 million extension in May and Maddux to a 5-year, $57.5 million extension in August.) David Justice played in two World Series after leaving the Atlanta Braves, including the 1997 Fall Classic with the Cleveland Indians. (Jeff Haynes/AFP via Getty Images)Lofton played well that season in Atlanta, batting .333 with 90 runs scored despite missing 40 games with a hamstring injury. But the flamboyant center fielder was an odd fit in the Braves’ buttoned-down clubhouse, and bolted back to Cleveland the following offseason. Allowed to DH in the American League, Justice was re-born with the Indians. He posted career-highs in batting average (.329) and slugging percentage (.596) while hitting 33 homers and driving in 101 for a Cleveland team that made it back to the World Series (they lost in seven games to the Florida Marlins, the same team that knocked off the Braves in six in the National League Championship Series). Justice continued to excel in Cleveland until 2000, when the Indians dealt him in late June to the World Series-bound New York Yankees. He hit .305/.391/.585 with 20 homers in 78 games with New York, then homered three more times in the postseason — including twice with eight RBIs in an ALCS win over the Seattle Mariners, earning MVP honors — and took home another World Series ring after the Yankees knocked off the Mets in five games. Justice got back to the World Series with the Yankees in 2001, and played in the postseason with the Oakland Athletics in 2002, his final season. He retired the following February, having played in 1,610 games across 14 seasons, batting .279/.378/.500 with 305 home runs, 1,017 RBIs, an OPS+ 29 percent better than league average and 40.6 Wins Above Replacement. The Braves, of course, have not won a World Series since Justice left town, and many trace the franchise’s subsequent two decades of October failures back to the day they traded Justice. (Former AJC columnist Terence Moore, in particular, wrote that sentiment many times, describing Justice as the “heart and soul” of the 1990s Braves.) Justice dabbled in broadcasting with ESPN and YES Network for a few years in the early 2000s, and was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in 2007. He achieved a bit of post-career fame as a central character in both the book and film Moneyball, which chronicled the 2002 Oakland Athletics. But 25 years ago, there were never a more-hated or more-popular Braves player — all in the same day. Darryl Palmer is a contributing writer for Talking Chop. Email him at darrylpalmerbraves4@gmail.com. No, that’s not his real name. Sources: Baseball-Reference.com; Newspapers.com; NYTimes.com; SI Vault; SABR Bio Project

  • What Atlanta Braves Can Learn from 2020 World Series
    by Jake Mastroianni on October 28, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    Now that the 2020 World Series is over we take a look at what the Atlanta Braves can learn to become the champions next season. The Atlanta Braves came as close as they’ve come in a long time to winning their first World Series since 1995. But they fell just short to the team who What Atlanta Braves Can Learn from 2020 World Series - Tomahawk Take - Tomahawk Take - Atlanta Braves News & Fan Community

  • Atlanta Braves 2020-21 important offseason dates
    by Kris Willis on October 28, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images The offseason is here! The World Series is over, signaling the official start of the MLB offseason. While it is uncertain what the 2020 offseason will look like due to a shortened regular season played without fans, teams around Major League Baseball will be looking for fill holes in their rosters in preparation for the 2021 season. The Atlanta Braves captured their third straight NL East crown and advanced all the way to the NLCS before bowing out after losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers. While Atlanta’s young core will remain in place, there will be several roster questions that they will need to answer. Here is a look at some of the important dates to keep an eye on throughout the offseason. Free Agency Opens - (Five days after World Series ends) Eligible players will file for free agency the day after the World Series ends. That also begins the five-day quiet period where teams can negotiate with their own free agents but are unable to sign anyone. Teams also must decide whether to extend one-year, $18.9 million Qualifying Offers to any of their free agents. The Braves currently have 10 players set to file for free agency: Mike Foltynewicz, Shane Greene, Cole Hamels, Adeiny Hechavarria, Nick Markakis, Mark Melancon, Marcell Ozuna, Pablo Sandoval, and Josh Tomlin. Foltynewicz would have been arbitration eligible but was dropped from the 40-man roster at the beginning of the regular season. He will actually be a minor-league free agent but I have included him here to address his status. Ozuna would normally have been a perfect candidate to receive a qualifying offer but he received one from the Cardinals last offseason and thus cannot be given another. Team Options Deadline - (Five Days after World Series ends) Darren O’Day is the only Braves player that currently has a team option for the 2021 season. Atlanta can pick up his option for $3.5 million or pay him a $500,000 buyout. Injured List Reinstatement - (Five days after World Series ends) Players that are currently on the 60-day injured list must be added back to the 40-man roster. Atlanta currently has three players who fit this criteria: Philip Pfeifer, Mike Soroka, Jeremy Walker. There won’t be an immediate roster crunch, though, because of all the free agents-to-be noted above. TBA - GM Meetings (Remote) These aren’t the Winter Meetings, those are down below. The league announced in September that the GM Meetings will be held remotely due to the pandemic. The exact date that these meetings will take place is unknown. November 3 - Rawlings Gold Glove Awards Announced The Rawlings Gold Glove Awards will be handed out on ESPN at 7 p.m. The Braves currently have three finalists in shortstop Dansby Swanson, centerfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. and pitcher Max Fried. November 2 - BBWAA Awards Finalists Announced Finalists will be announced for BBWAA Awards including Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young and MVP at 6 p.m. on MLB Network. Freddie Freeman is one of the favorites to take home the MVP Award for the National League. November 2/7 - Deadlines to Extend/Accept/Decline Qualifying Offers Teams will have until five days after the end of the World Series to extend a qualifying offer to their free agents. The players will then have 10 days to decide whether or not to accept it. November 5 - Silver Slugger Awards Announced Silver Slugger Awards named for the top hitter at each position. Freeman, Ozuna and Travis d’Arnaud could be in the running. November 11-14 BBWAA Awards November 9 - Rookies of the Year Announced November 10 - Managers of the Year Announced November 11 - Cy Young Awards Announced November 12 - MVP Awards Announced November 20 - Rule 5 protection deadline This is the deadline for players to be added to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. The biggest Braves prospect that is Rule 5 Draft-eligible is Kyle Muller. December 2 - Non-tender deadline Deadline to tender contracts to players still under team control. This is mostly where you’ll see some arbitration-eligible players get non-tendered if the Braves are not interested in bringing them back for next season. Atlanta currently has nine players who are arbitration eligible this offseason: Johan Camargo, Charlie Culberson, Grant Dayton, Adam Duvall, Max Fried, Luke Jackson, A.J. Minter, Mike Soroka and Dansby Swanson. December 7-10 - MLB Winter Meetings in Dallas The Winter Meetings are scheduled to be held in Dallas starting December 7 and continuing through December 10. In all likelihood, these will be cancelled due to the pandemic. That could mean even less activity than the lower level of offseason maneuvering already expected. December TBA - Rule 5 Draft Minor League players not on a team’s 40-man roster who have been in professional baseball for four (for college players) or five (for high school players) Rule 5 Drafts are eligible to be selected. During the Major League portion of the draft, any player selected must remain on that team’s active roster for the entire season or be offered back to their original club. January 15 - Exchange of Arbitration Figures Arbitration-eligible players and their clubs exchange potential salary figures. Atlanta currently has nine players who are eligible for arbitration (assuming none are non-tendered). The Braves may elect to avoid arbitration with many of these players to work out one-year contracts agreeable to both sides, or long-term extensions. To the extent the Braves remain a “file and trial team,” they will treat this as a hard deadline for further negotiations — any player not signed to a one-year deal after this date will head to arbitration (see below). January 15 - 2021 International Signing period opens The international signing period was pushed back from its normal July 2 date due to the pandemic. The 2020-21 signing period will begin on January 15 and will continue through December 15, 2021. This is meaningful to the Braves who are still operating under sanctions by MLB but they will have a $1,572,000 bonus pool for the upcoming period. February 1 - Arbitration hearings begin If the teams and the players can’t come to an agreement then they will go to arbitration where a panel will hear player and club presentations and will then decide to award the player his submission or the club’s.

  • '95 Braves had blast watching their WS G6
    by Mark Bowman on October 28, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Former players reminisce, share laughs to mark 25th anniversary

  • The Daily Chop: Dodgers win World Series
    by Kris Willis on October 28, 2020 at 10:00 am

    Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images The 2020 season has officially come to an end The 2020 MLB Season came to an end Tuesday night as the Los Angeles Dodgers captured their first World Series title since 1988 with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6. Corey Seager was named MVP of the series becoming just the eighth player to capture LCS MVP and World Series MVP in the same season. It wasn’t all good news for the Dodgers though as Justin Turner was pulled in the eighth inning due to what was reported as a positive test for COVID-19. Braves News There is not a whole of lot of news coming out of Atlanta currently but things will be picking up as soon as the World Series is over. In the meantime, we continued our player-by-player look back at the 2020 season Tuesday with a closer look at Adeiny Hechavarria and Pablo Sandoval. You can follow along with the whole series in this StoryStream. MLB News In what feels like foreshadowing for the offseason, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in an interview that the league’s 30 teams have amassed a collective $8.3 billion in debt and will post anywhere from $2.8 to $3 billion in combined operating losses. Left-hander James Paxton made just five starts for the Yankees in 2020 but is now fully healthy according to agent Scott Boras. Paxton will be a free agent this offseason. The Texas Rangers will use Doug Mathis and Brendan Sagara as co-pitching coaches for 2021. Mathis will work from the dugout with Sagara operating out of the bullpen. The duo will replace Julio Rangel whose contract was not renewed at the end of the season.

  • 2020 World Series Game 6 open thread
    by Kris Willis on October 27, 2020 at 11:30 pm

    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports The Los Angeles Dodgers moved within one win of their first World Series title since 1988 with a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5. The series will continue Tuesday evening with Game 6 which is slated to get underway just after 8 p.m. from Globe Life Field. Tony Gonsolin will be on the mound for the Dodgers while the Rays will counter with lefty Blake Snell. Game Info Game Date/Time: Tuesday, October 27, 8:08 p.m. ET Location: Globe Life Field, Arlington, Texas TV: FOX

  • Atlanta Braves coach is a candidate for Detroit managerial job
    by Alan Carpenter on October 27, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    This time (so far) it’s not Ron Washington or Walt Weiss that the Atlanta Braves could lose. According to a report from Detroit Tigers beat reporter for MLB.com Jason Beck, that team has spoken with Atlanta Braves catching coach Sal Fasano. Tigers have also talked with Braves coach Sal Fasano about their managerial job, according Atlanta Braves coach is a candidate for Detroit managerial job - Tomahawk Take - Tomahawk Take - Atlanta Braves News & Fan Community

  • Atlanta Braves 2020 Player Reviews: Pablo Sandoval
    by Ivan the Great on October 27, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images A very late addition to the 2020 Braves who nonetheless appeared in the NLCS After apparently tiring of most of their bench options (Johan Camargo, Charlie Culberson, Adeiny Hechavarria) by the end of the season, the Braves signed Pablo Sandoval following his release from the Giants in early September, and brought him up for a brief stint at the end of the year. He ended up getting as many PAs in the regular season for the Braves (four, one game) as he did in the postseason (four, in three games, all in the NLCS). What went right? In those eight PAs, Sandoval drew two walks and was hit by a pitch. Also, he appeared to have fun in the dugout — and after a contender scoops you up and puts you on the playoff roster when you put up -0.4 fWAR in 90 PAs with your prior team, why wouldn’t you be having fun? Also, he was one of only four Braves hitters with positive cWPA in the NLCS, making it so his overall season WPA and postseason WPA were positive with the Braves despite not really doing anything other than standing there. What went wrong? Nothing, really. Sandoval was hitless in those eight PAs, but he still reached base three times. In the NLCS, he was hit by a pitch in the Braves’ win; he struck out twice in the Game 3 blowout loss, and really the only place where he could have contributed would have been Game 6, when he ended up making the final out in a two-run game. Outlook for 2021: Sandoval will probably latch on somewhere on a minor league deal; his 2019 was decent enough that there’ll probably be roster room for him on at least one club. Still, 2019 remains his only season with an xwOBA above .304 in the Statcast era; his overall 2015-2020 xwOBA is right at .300. It’s kind of wild that this is the guy the Braves added to bolster their bench for October, but then again, pretty much everything about 2020 was wild.

  • Francisco Lindor trade options: Surveying the teams that could make a deal
    by Zack Meisel on October 27, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Which team would be the best match for a trade? We consider the fits with the Mets, Angels, Yankees, Braves, Reds, Phils and Jays.

  • Atlanta Braves 2020 Player Reviews: Adeiny Hechavarria
    by Ivan the Great on October 27, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images The Hech didn’t distinguish himself at all, and got left off the playoff roster. After a minor panic late in the 2019 season when it turned out the Braves had no suitable backup shortstop option on the roster, they signed Adeiny Hechavarria. In addition to providing actual shortstop defense that season, he went berserk with the bat (162 wRC+ in 70 PAs). The Braves ended up re-signing him to essentially the same role in the offseason, giving him a one-year deal worth $1 million. The Braves had their share of injury struggles in 2020, but none of them forced Hechavarria into regular playing time. As a result, he only got 67 PAs across 27 games over the course of the season. Unlike 2019, though, he didn’t make the most of his limited opportunity. Instead, he failed to do much of anything on either side of the ball, and was left off the playoff roster in lieu of guys like Charlie Culberson, Johan Camargo, and Pablo Sandoval. What went right? Honestly, pretty much nothing. Hechavarria stayed healthy and was able to fill in at second base, third base, and shortstop as needed... but that’s about it. His biggest hit this season was this: Your browser does not support HTML5 video. Not only was it almost caught, but it came in essentially a meaningless game. While Hechavarria scored the go-ahead run later in the inning, he made an awful play on a grounder (slipped while fielding it, airmailed the throw) that allowed the Red Sox to tie the game. So, there wasn’t even a great whole game to highlight. What went wrong? While it’s hard to affirmatively say that anything went wrong for the team as a result of Hechavarria’s services, he probably wishes he had a better showing in his 70 PAs and spotty playing time. Hechavarria put up just a 65 wRC+, his lowest mark since 2016. His xwOBA was .237, by far his lowest mark in the Statcast era. That was a bottom 25 mark in baseball among anyone with 50 or more PAs; his exit velocity mark (82.9 mph) was bottom 20. That could be forgiven, of course, given the small sample and the fact that Hechavarria wasn’t really on the roster to hit. What apparently couldn’t be forgiven, though, was his teeny-sample defensive miscues. By DRS, Hechavarria was slightly negative at both second and third; by UZR he ended up negative overall as well. Even by OAA, all he could manage was +1 at second and -1 at third; in brief, he was there for defense, but he wasn’t really defending, either. The Braves’ September 24 loss to the Marlins wrapped all of Hechavarria’s issues in a neat little package. He booted two routine balls at third, one of which led to the go-ahead run scoring; on offense, he went 0-for-4 and made the last out of the eighth with the tying runs in scoring position. About a week later, he was announced as not having made the postseason roster. Even when the Braves reshuffled their squad in later rounds, and even when Adam Duvall was hurt, Hechavarria’s name was not called — even though Charlie Culberson, Johan Camargo, and Pablo Sandoval, none of whom spent the whole regular season with the Braves, ended up getting some October playing time. Outlook for 2021: Hechavarria is now a free agent. He’ll certainly find a minor league deal somewhere; a major league deal seems reasonably likely as well. The Braves could re-sign him, or they could look elsewhere. At best, Hechavarria projects as a real good bench player (1.5 WAR/600); if you take his 2020 to heart (and I’m not sure you should, given the playing time), maybe knock that down a bit, but he’s still an okay bench option. He does turn 32 next April, however, so a team probably won’t want to rely on him for anything other than short-term defensive support.

  • A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora could manage again soon. Is baseball ready for that?
    by Andy McCullough and more on October 27, 2020 at 11:00 am

    The Athletic surveyed 20 players, coaches, executives and agents. When Hinch and Cora return, a divided industry will greet them.

  • The Daily Chop: Reviews, Fasano, Game Six, and more
    by Dillon Cloud on October 27, 2020 at 10:00 am

    Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images The Braves await the end of the World Series to begin building their next potential championship team. Braves News 2020 Atlanta Braves Player Reviews: Robbie Erlin The Robbie Erlin experience was hardly a source of happiness for Braves fans in 2020. The left-hander was signed for depth and quickly became a necessary experiment for Atlanta as their rotation options dwindled. After that start, he would allow 18 runs over his next five appearances. Erlin would make four more starts for the Braves but wouldn’t last longer than four innings and allowed at least two runs in each of his appearances. He was released by the club on August 14. 2020 Atlanta Braves Player Reviews: Chris Rusin Despite the abbreviated schedule, remembering the lone appearance of the season from Chris Rusin is still a challenge. Rusin’s stint with the Braves would include just one appearance on August 3. He would enter in long relief against the Mets and allow six hits, three walks and three runs over 3 1/3 innings. Rusin was designated for assignment on August 4 as the Braves continued to shuffle in some fresh arms for the bullpen. He would clear waivers but would later be released to clear a spot in the player pool. Tigers have talked to Braves coach Sal Fasano about open manager position, per report Could this Braves assistant land a manager job this offseason? Braves Podcasts Talking Chop Podcast Episode 260: One week later MLB News World Series Game 6: 7 key storylines What are the biggest storylines for Game Six? Cash ‘going to get aggressive’ with ‘Stable’ Cash will be aggressive with his bullpen in the do-or-die Game Six on Tuesday. Snell’s last test: Saving the Rays’ season Can the Tampa Bay ace extend their season?

  • Tigers Interview Sal Fasano, Mark Kotsay
    by Connor Byrne on October 26, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    5:44pm: Athletics quality control coach Mark Kotsay has also interviewed for the job in Detroit, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. 5:32pm: The Tigers have discussed their managerial vacancy with Braves catching instructor Sal Fasano, Jason Beck of MLB.com tweets. Now 49 years old, Fasano played for an array of teams during a…

  • MLB owners lay off hundreds as revenues plummet, drastically changing the sport
    by Evan Drellich on October 26, 2020 at 11:00 am

    Most owners had already made cutbacks throughout 2020, but the number of people being laid off now is extreme, and could imminently rise.

  • List of free agent starting pitchers the Braves could target this winter - Part Two
    by Bill Shanks on October 24, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Here is part two of the list of free agent starting pitchers the Braves could target this winter

  • 5 offseason questions Braves must answer
    by Mark Bowman on October 23, 2020 at 7:27 pm
  • List of free agent starting pitchers the Braves could target this winter - Part One
    by Bill Shanks on October 23, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    Let's look at some free agent starting pitchers who the Braves could target this winter

  • Freddie Freeman named Baseball America's MLB Player of the Year
    by Bill Shanks on October 23, 2020 at 2:33 am

    Here is the first of many postseason honors for Freddie Freeman

  • Dates, big decisions: Braves' offseason FAQ
    by Mark Bowman on October 22, 2020 at 9:57 pm
  • Acuña among 3 Braves Gold Glove finalists
    by David Adler, Matt Kelly and Paul Casella on October 22, 2020 at 8:39 pm
  • All 30 clubs' 2019-20 international signings
    by Jesse Sanchez on October 22, 2020 at 4:13 pm
  • MLBTR Poll: Marcell Ozuna’s Next Contract
    by Connor Byrne on October 22, 2020 at 12:00 am

    Outfielder Marcell Ozuna just wrapped up a dream season as a member of the Braves, with whom he slashed .338/.431/.606 and totaled a National League-leading 18 home runs in 267 plate appearances. The Braves couldn’t have expected better than that when they signed Ozuna, a former Marlin and Cardinal, to a one-year, $18MM contract last…

  • Anthopoulos: Braves Hope To Re-Sign Ozuna
    by Steve Adams on October 21, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    For a second straight season, the Braves struck gold on a one-year deal for a middle-of-the-order threat. Atlanta’s 2019 deal with Josh Donaldson proved to be a masterstroke, and although the front office was panned for letting the “Bringer of Rain” walk, GM Alex Anthopoulos’ one-year deal for slugger Marcell Ozuna proved similarly fruitful. The…

  • With the rotation nightmare, how in the world did the Braves do this?
    by Bill Shanks on October 21, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    With all that happened to the starting rotation, how were the Braves even in the playoffs much less the NLCS

  • Marcell Ozuna’s future, Freddie Freeman’s contract, Mike Soroka’s rehab and more
    by David O'Brien on October 21, 2020 at 1:29 am

    The Braves will have plenty of things to address before the 2021 season, but they feel good about their 2020 showing.

  • Yes the Braves can afford Marcell Ozuna, but...
    by Bill Shanks on October 21, 2020 at 1:11 am

    Let's look at the numbers to see if the Braves could afford Marcell Ozuna

  • Braves discuss Soroka, Ozuna, Freddie, more
    by Mark Bowman on October 20, 2020 at 8:37 pm
  • This World Series will show modern baseball strategy at its peak. What’s next?
    by Eno Sarris on October 20, 2020 at 11:00 am

    Fastball velocities are leveling out, starters and relievers are converging, and we may have seen the limits of bullpen usage.