Bryce Harper will sign soon…
Oh brother, how many times have we heard that uttered by a national baseball writer? It does look like we’re finally reaching the peak of his market with mentions of the Giants, Phillies, Dodgers, and even smaller mentions of Braves and Cubs *checking in*. In truth, I think it’s really down to the 3, and there’s 1 team out of that 3 that, if Bryce signed with them, it could be very beneficial for the Braves.
According to nearly everyone on the Internet, the Dodgers are seen as Bryce Harper’s first choice. It makes sense.
They compete on a regular basis.
They have money to spend.
The location is quite close to his Las Vegas home.
It’s a big stage.
On the outside looking in, it seems like a shorter term deal with less guaranteed $ would be less appealing and that is my thought process right now. If Bryce is handed a deal by the San Francisco Giants for 10+ years at 30-33MM/year, I think he’ll be choose them. For me, the Giants are leading this rat-race, followed by the Dodgers, then the Phillies.
For the sake of my sanity and this piece, I want his landing spot to be the Dodgers.
How the Dodgers Landing Harper could make the Braves Better
A hypothetical inside a hypothetical…yes, I’m bored. If the Dodgers were to land Bryce Harper, 2 things happen:
There was already a logjam…but now there will be logs upon logs stacked up, wondering how they got there and how long it’ll take for them to rot on the bench.
If Dodgers want to avoid paying luxury tax, they’ll have to move $.
There have already been rumors of Braves checking in (or Dodgers checking in with the Braves) concerning Joc Pederson. As of now, the fit isn’t there for either team as the Braves have no spot for semi-regulars at-bats for another left-handed OF bat, but that doesn’t mean that, through other moves, there couldn’t be.
Proposal Number 1
Dodgers acquire C.J. Alexander and Corbin Clouse
Braves acquire Joc Pederson and Rich Hill
News just broke that many of the Braves starting pitcher candidates are either
LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 01: Joc Pederson #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a grand slam home run in the second inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on May 1, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
experiencing elbow or shoulder soreness. Couple that with the Soroka news (although he’s about to start throwing again, so that’s good) and grabbing another starter, especially one that could slot in as numero uno, without making a huge commitment in years or prospects, seems incredibly smart.
Proposal Number 2
Braves acquire Kyle Tucker (Yup…again!)
Astros acquire Ender Inciarte (That’ll teach you to block me!!!!)
This is the quick and dirty proposal, but it doesn’t have to be this…rather it could be any high-end MLB-ready OF prospect in return for a CF needy team. Astros still have George Springer penciled in at CF, and that didn’t go well last year. Move him over to the corner and give Ender control of their OF. The Astros are fine on offense and could really use the defensive minded Inciarte in the outfield.
The Braves can afford to lose Ender Inciarte. Yes…this goes out to you “But what about the defense?” people. This is an experiment. An experiment of Ronald Acuna taking over CF for 1 year (at the minimum). I’ve watched him in CF in MiLB. I’ve watched him in CF in MLB. My below average baseball eye saw a kid that can track the heck out of the ball when squared up with the batter and has the speed to make up for mistakes as captain of the outfield. When he played the corner, it showed a different player. One in which the ball got on him too quickly and speed made up for mistakes….most of the time.While I’m not going to get too advanced stat-heavy here, Acuna’s small sample of advanced metrics agreed with the eye test, and if those ring true, moving Acuna to CF and trading Ender, will not be a dropoff in defense. If it doesn’t work out, it’s literally for 1 year as, hopefully, Cristian Pache (or Drew Waters) will be ready to patrol CF at some capacity in 2020.
Joc’s lack of above average foot-speed shows in the outfield, but he can still track with the best of them, just not as a CFer. Joc slots into LF nicely against right-handed pitchers, where his above average defense (combined with Acuna’s above average defense in CF) actually makes the team better defensively, if the advanced metrics of a small sample ring true.
And then there’s Kyle Tucker (or someone equivalent) and pitching
Grabbing a future stud OFer should be the Braves top priority in any trade happening this offseason. Rich Hill provides a really good veteran stop-gap for a group of young pitchers that need MLB innings to prove/disprove their own worth, one of which could prove to be that as the Braves need.
Hope you enjoyed this quick piece. And hope it’s still relevant when I hit post!