The Atlanta Braves are active and determined this free agency, adding two big name free agents and locking up a few players already on the roster. The Braves are already gearing up for a successful next season.
The Atlanta Braves struck quick during free agency. On November 4, 2019, free-agent relief pitcher, Will Smith, signed a three-year contract. The $39 million dollar contract includes a $13 million dollar club option for 2023 with a $1 million dollar buyout. Will Smith, after missing the 2017 season due to injury, has re-emerged as one of the best left-handed relievers in the game.
His trademark slider has served him well over the past two seasons. Smith has a 2.66 ERA (151 ERA+) over his last 118 innings pitched, and a 4.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Will Smith earned a selection to his first ever All-Star team in 2019 as the San Francisco closer. The 30 year old earned 34 saves in 38 opportunities, while going 6-0 last season.
However, because Smith was tendered a qualifying offer from the Giants ($17.8 million), the Braves will now forfeit their second-highest pick in the 2020 MLB draft.
The Atlanta Braves continue to stay busy during free agency. On November 24, 2019, the Braves signed catcher Travis d’Arnaud to a two-year contract worth $16 million dollars. The contract comes after Travis d’Arnaud turned his season around. D’Arnaud found himself without a team after the New York Mets designated him for assignment in May.
After a short stay with the Dodgers, d’Arnaud was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays. Putting up a .263/.323/.459 batting line for the Rays, d’Arnaud was an important part of Tampa’s postseason run. D’Arnaud matched his career high in home runs with 16, most of his damage comes against left-handers with a 130 wRC+. Staying healthy was key for d’Arnaud successful bounce back.
Travis d’Arnaud joins Tyler Flowers as the Atlanta Braves’ backstops, but d’Arnaud looks to be the everyday starting catcher because of his offensive prowess.
To go along with Will Smith and Travis d’Arnaud, the Atlanta Braves have brought back four veteran players. Chris Martin and Darren O’Day are veteran arm in the bullpen. The Braves also brought back steady right fielder, Nick Markakis, and, as mentioned earlier, catcher Tyler Flowers. That makes six quality players off the market.
Those moves only bolster a roster that won 97 games last season and won their division.
After the last two years of wading into the shallows of the free agency waters, the Atlanta Braves have started this year’s free agency by diving head first into the deep end. There are still some big names out there: Madison Bumgarner and Marcel Ozuna, and the Braves have eyes on both. Even if they miss out on those two, the Atlanta Braves have already taken steps to compete for more than their division next year. Chop on!
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