Atlanta Braves mailbag looks at breakout candidates and a Kris Bryant trade

The Atlanta Braves won’t trade for Francisco Lindor this off-season. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
The Atlanta Braves won’t trade for Francisco Lindor this off-season. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Braves
Kris Bryant fills genuine needs for the Atlanta Braves, but trading for him remains a long-Shot, (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Bryant for the Atlanta Braves?

Kris Bryant does fill an immediate need for the Atlanta Braves at an MLBTR  projected salary of $18.5M, or about $4.5M less than a Josh Donaldson deal. Bryant’s a bat-first third-baseman who posted a .282/.382/.521/.903 line, a .379 wOBA, 135 wRC+ and 4.8 fWAR in 2019.

His Fangraphs ranks his defense #15 of 15 qualified third basemen, due to a –7 DRS and –1.4  UZR. Baseball Prospectus ($) ranks him #19 of 30, with a –18.3 FRAA. Two things cloud the idea of Bryant to the Braves:  control, and prospect cost.

The MLBPA, acting on behalf of Bryant, filed a grievance against the Chicago Cubs because the Cubs kept him in the minors until April 17, 2015, making him eligible for free agency following the 2021 season. If Bryant had reached the Majors on April 16, he’d be a free agent after 2020.

If the panel finds for Bryant, the Cubs may try to sign him to an extension, but he’ll demand over $20M a season. The Cubs front office is looking to restructure their roster and stop papering over mistakes with checks, so they would almost certainly attempt to trade him for the best offer than can get.

light. Related Story. I still don't know

If the arbitration panel finds for the Cubs, they can trade Bryant with two years of control and get a better return. The question the Atlanta Braves would need to answer is whether they think they can extend Bryant, and if not, whether his contribution over two years is worth the cost in prospects.

Acquiring Bryant for two years would require a package including Austin Riley, Kyle Wright, Kyle Muller, and maybe a low-level prospect. A one-year might save either Wright or Muller from that group.

The Reds signing of Mike Moustakas for four years and $64M may increase the likelihood of the Cubs trading Bryant. However, I don’t believe it increases the probability of a trade to the Braves.  Today’s signing of Hamels increases the odds of trading for a third baseman, but not necessarily Bryant.  His availability depends on the timing of the decision on his grievance. I don’t expect him to succeed, but these things are hard to predict.

After today’s signing, I have the Braves payroll at $136M.  Adding Bryant would take it to $154M and Donaldson to at least $159M.

I put that possibility of Bryant to the Braves at no more than 10%. The package suggested for Bryant looks like enough to convince the Marlins to trade Brian Anderson or the Royals to part with Hunter Dozier, and there’s the possibility of trading for Eduardo Escobar.

All three players offer a lower salary point, provide similar offense, and in Anderson’s case, better defense.