With Tim Hudson gone and Brian McCann probably out the door, what happens to the Braves?
Tim Hudson is a reminder that prices are going up. Baseball teams have money to spend, and with a thin free agent market and at least 20 clubs thinking they’ve got a chance to win the World Series in 2014, it’s a great off-season to be a free agent.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann are going to get very, very rich, but Marlon Byrd did just fine for himself as well. This is the way the system is supposed to work.
If you’re Braves GM Frank Wren this morning, what are you thinking? You probably had Hudson penciled in for $9 million in 2014. Instead, he got $23 million over two years from the Giants.
Wren simply could not go there, and so he’s left with a hole in his rotation. At 38, Hudson was still good for 25-30 starts and 175-200 quality innings.
He’s also a great teammate, a great influence on all those young guys. On the other hand, this could be one of those moments that show off what a great organization the Braves have.
Here’s the Braves rotation in the wake of Hudson’s departure:
- Mike Minor.
- Kris Medlen.
- Julio Teheran.
- Brandon Beachy.
- Alex Wood or David Hale.
Not bad, huh? Yes, there are questions. Beachy has made five starts since recovering from Tommy John surgery. He appears to be good to go, but there are questions. Wood has made 11 big league starts, Hale two.
Because the Braves don’t have unlimited resources, they have to build a great top-to-bottom organization, and that’s what Wren has done.
Atlanta was one of baseball’s three youngest teams in 2013. Andrelton Simmons, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman were all 23 on Opening Day. Craig Kimbrel was 25.
Now it’s McCann’s turn. He’s one of the most sought-after players on the market and could be gone, too.
If you look at the Braves from a certain angle, you can convince yourself they’re good enough to hang with the Nationals in the NL East.
They still have baseball’s best bullpen and a front of the rotation that could be tremendous. In Freeman, Simmons and Heyward, they have three of the National League’s best players. If B.J. Upton can get his career back on track, if Justin Upton has a productive year, the Braves could have a dynamic offense.
But there are questions at second, where Dan Uggla has worked furiously to get his swing back. And there are questions in the rotation and behind the plate.
Wren will then have to decide if Evan Gattis can handle the everyday catching duties. In the end, Wren will figure something out.
And the Braves move on. They’ll be fine.