As the Atlanta Braves potentially search for a center fielder this offseason they could look to Tampa who has a couple of interesting options.
Once the lockout finally ends and the offseason continues, there will be a frenzy of signings and trades made quickly. Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos is not one to wait around to make signings in the offseason, but he has been a little more hesitant in trades.
That’s why it’s difficult for me to see him making any significant trades before Opening Day. But if he’s going to make an upgrade in center field, he’ll have to find a trade partner.
Right now the options are Adam Duvall and Cristian Pache.
Duvall isn’t really a center fielder at his point even though he handled the position well last year and made a home run robbing grab in the postseason.
And Pache will need time in Spring Training to prove he is ready for another shot.
There is a good chance Alex goes into Spring Training — and even into the season — with those two as the center field options and see how it works out before making a move.
Or if he’s not feeling confident in either of those options, he could go ahead and find another option right now.
Braves Trade Targets — Kevin Kiermaier and Manuel Margot
But let’s focus on the center fielders for now.
I’ve been saying all offseason that I think Cristian Pache could turn into Kevin Kiermaier — a soft-hitting batter who plays Gold Glove defense.
Who better to help Pache become what he could be?
Kiermaier will turn 32 in April, is owed just over $12 million in 2022, has a $13 million team option in 2023 with a $2.5 million buyout.
That’s just over $14.5 million for a guy who is a defensive first center fielder and someone whose Baseball Savant page looks like my weather outside — cold.
The only way a Kiermaier trade makes sense is if the Rays throw in some money. Kiermaier is essentially a salary dump for the Rays and I don’t see the Braves taking that on.
Manuel Margot will play most of 2022 at 27 and is projected to make around $5 million in his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent.
Margot’s Baseball Savant page has a little more red in it as they are virtually the same hitters; although, Kiermaier does get on base at a better clip.
Margot is also considered a very good defensive center fielder with 3 DRS and 1.5 UZR last year in 182 innings.
He wouldn’t be too expensive in a trade but would likely cost a solid prospect like Darius Vines or Brooks Wilson. I’m not sure I’d give up Bryce Elder or Joey Estes for him, which is likely what the Rays would want.
If the Braves were going to trade for one of these guys, I think Margot is the better option. However, I don’t see the Braves trading for either of them before the season starts — but maybe during the season.