Atlanta Braves: A possible power bat option
If Josh Donaldson leaves via free agency, the Atlanta Braves will need to find a power hitter to fill his void. Could an old rumor from Seattle be the answer?
Last offseason, details emerged about what the Atlanta Braves would have had to give up in order to acquire the Seattle Mariners’ Mitch Haniger.
To say the least, it was hefty.
Two very top pitching prospects, plus more, was the reported offer. The Braves obviously balked.
This offseason, there again has been rumblings about Haniger’s availability and why now might be the time for Seattle to capitalize on the likely prospect haul it would receive.
Even though Haniger is coming off an injury-plagued season, where he hit 15 home runs in 63 games and slashed .220/.314/.463, his three years of control coupled with his powerful 2018 season make him an appealing corner outfield option.
In 2018, Haniger hit 26 homers, drove in 93 runs and made his first All-Star team. He was a six-win player for the Mariners.
Assuming he is healthy, Haniger would be a significant addition to any lineup.
What would it take?
Haniger’s injuries last season (men, I’ll spare you the details) have not really lessened his value.
According to Baseball Trade Values, Haniger carries a 49.5 value, which is second in the Mariners’ entire organization.
Of Seattle’s five top 100 prospects (according to MLB Pipeline), only two are pitchers. So the Mariners would likely be looking for young starting pitching to match with their two top position prospects, Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez.
That means Ian Anderson (30.6) would likely be the discussion starter. The secondary piece could be Bryse Wilson (15.6) or Kyle Muller (15). Other pieces would have to be involved, too.
Giving up Anderson would be significant and the Braves have been hesitant to part with the pitcher, who has been viewed as the top thrower in the system for the better part of two years.
But if the Braves are going all in, which I wrote about recently, then this might be a move they make if Donaldson does indeed leave.
What about the money?
MLB Trade Rumors projects Haniger’s salary next season, which will be his first in arbitration, to be $3 million.
So if the Braves were to acquire him, that would still leave $20-25 million to spend on a catcher, a starting pitcher and perhaps third base if they don’t give the job to Johan Camargo or Austin Riley.
Theoretically, the Braves could trade for Haniger, then trade for an affordable catcher (Willson Contreras or Austin Hedges), sign Madison Bumgarner or Zach Wheeler and plug Camargo at third until Riley is ready.
Trade for Haniger, sign Yasmani Grandal, and trade for somebody like Jon Gray.
Whether it’s Haniger or another outfielder, the Braves will most likely have to go the trade route to add a power bat in the event Donaldson signs somewhere else.
But an outfield of Ronald Acuna, Ender Inciarte and Haniger next year and a future outfield of Acuna, Haniger and Cristian Pache are certainly appetizing.