The big off-season story in major league baseball has been the extension of multiple major free agent contracts by a number of aggressive clubs. Jacob deGrom has signed a five-year, $185 million contract with the Rangers. The Mets responded by signing Justin Verlander to a two-year, $86.6 million deal. The Yankees retained their biggest free agent award, keeping Aaron Judge on a nine-year, $360 million deal.
The deep pass market saw Trea Turner join the Phillies on an 11-year, $300 million deal, with Xander Bogaerts going to the Padres for 11 years and $280 million. Another deep position players and shooters have signed deals of varying lengths for around $20 million per season, and award-winning shorts Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson and ace starter Carlos Rodon remain in the market.
The Atlanta Braves, on the other hand, haven’t made a big signing yet, and it’s unclear whether he will. But when their league rivals were really busy (Phils signed with Turner plus Taijuan Walker (4 years, $72M) starting from the right and Matt Strahm (2 years, $15M) leaving from the left and the Mets were closer again to Edwin Diaz (5 years). , $102M) and CF Brandon Nimmo (8 years, $162M) and adds free starting players Kodai Senga (5 years, $75M) and Jose Quintana (2 years, $26M) and his assistants, David Robertson (1 year, $10M) and Verlander), as things stand, there could be a very strong argument that the Braves continue to be the 2023 NL East favourites.
His latest moves came via trade yesterday as he bought All Star hunter Sean Murphy from the Oakland Athletics in a three-way deal that also included the Milwaukee Brewers. The Braves have given up a bit of their minor league number (LHP Kyle Muller, RHP Freddy Tarnok, RHP Royber Salinas and RHP Justin Yeager) in addition to major league catchers William Contreras and Manny Pina. The Brewers take Yeager and Contreras between that group, the rest head to Oakland, which also sends RHP Joel Payamps to the Brewers, with Esteury Ruiz heading the opposite direction.
From the Braves’ point of view, the biggest pieces in the deal are Murphy (of course) and Contreras. Cards’ free agent Willson’s younger brother, William, will act immediately as Brewers’ regular buyer. He’s a first bat hunter with serious power potential, but his gauntlet isn’t sure. He’ll turn 25 in 2023 and has a good chance of hitting 30 homers at major league level, but he may need a change of position or first stage to reach the offensive ceiling.
Murphy, on the other hand, is a defensive master in all aspects of the game and has proven quite resilient. He enters arbitration for the first time this winter and has three years of team control remaining. He may not have Contreras’ ceiling as a hitter, but he’s already settled as a .250, 20-homer-type offensive player, a production level that should be repeatable in the near term. I don’t see a ton of added advantage in hit ball data, though some forecasters see him poised for a boost in offense by moving from Oakland to Atlanta.
But I don’t think it needs it. A “Tru” Production+ level of close to 120 plus Golden Glove caliber defense is enough in my opinion to get the MVP votes downvoted. In this article, I acknowledge him as one of my 2022 AL MVP Mentions.
I think the Braves did a really good job on this deal. Combined with their bargain deals for young milestone players Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Riley, Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies, Michael Harris, Spencer Strider, and others, the Braves have locked the guts of a top contender for the long haul. rivals pay market rates for freelancers, who will still be generously paid in their late thirties or even early forties.
The Brewers did a good job downplaying this deal and found themselves a highly rated premium position player in Contreras. The only player they gave up on in this entire deal was Ruiz, and despite being one of the fastest players in pro ball, it’s not yet clear whether his other vehicles will play at major league level.
As for athletics, I think they could have done better. Frankly, players of All Star caliber get paid bonuses and then some are in the free agency market and one would think that this would turn out to be any trade for a player of Murphy caliber. Instead, it could be argued that Brewers moved the second best player (Contreras) in this deal. Both Muller and Tarnok are top-rated candidates, but they can’t miss the guys. Just like Ruiz. Their rebuild has yet to bottom out, and I can’t yet target a reasonable estimated date for a return to competitor status in the loaded AL West.
Speaking of hail, how about that NL East? While the Mets’ off-season is worthy of an article in itself (they’re tomorrow’s topics), don’t confuse the Braves’ relatively stingy approach with a lack of aggression. A deal like this saves money for another day and another player through trading or the free agent market. Maybe Swanson will come back and fill the centre-back? In any case, the Braves remain a clear NL pennant contender and will likely be one for most or all of the next decade. No other MLB club can make this bold statement right now.