3 regrets the Braves should already have about the 2023-24 offseason

The Braves have been busy this offseason, but there have already been some missed opportunites.

Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Three
Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Three / Adam Bettcher/GettyImages
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All things considered, the Atlanta Braves have done pretty well for themselves this offseason so far. They overhauled their bullpen to include some more power arms, signed Reynaldo Lopez, and made one of the more interesting trades of the offseason when the Braves acquired Jarred Kelenic to play left field.

That said, the job is far from done. Atlanta still seems to be on the lookout for another starting pitcher and who knows what AA has up his sleeve for the rest of the offseason. All of these open spots on the 40 man roster are going to get occupied sooner or later and it seems likely that it will include some new faces before the dust settles.

While the Braves have done well thus far, there have been some moments that have at least made Braves fans wince. No team can have everything they want, but some of the opportunities that were out there this offseason felt like strong chances for the Braves to solidify their position as one of the best teams in the league for the foreseeable future. Here's a look at some decisions this offseason that the Braves could grow to regret.

It's a mistake for the Braves to not push to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto

At the top of the list is the Yoshinobu Yamamoto free agency derby. Yamamoto is the rare starter that is hitting free agency at a young age (he is just 25), who possesses multiple plus pitches, and who has the ability to become a top of the rotation force. While there are a number of teams that are in on him, the Braves do not appear to be one of them.

Here is a Braves team that has a clear need (both in 2024 and beyond) to add a top flight starting pitcher and they don't appear to be involved at all with the best arm on the market. Sure, Yamamoto is going to cost $300+ million to sign, but the Braves need a quality arm going into 2024 and Max Fried is likely to walk after next season. With no one beyond Spencer Strider under contract, what is the Braves' plan with their rotation? Right now, it is a lot of crossing fingers and hoping.

To be fair, we don't know for certain that the Braves aren't involved as Alex Anthopoulos plays things pretty close to the vest. There is also a real possibility that Yamamoto already has such strong preferences for the markets he is willing to play in that the Braves signing him was never really an option. However, with this starting pitching market being significantly better than next offseason's and with the ceiling that Yamamoto has, Atlanta pushing hard for Yoshinobu would have been a very worthy cause.

Missing out on Sonny Gray was brutal

Some guys are just natural fits for a team when it comes to free agency. If the Braves do add free agent arms, they like to do so on shorter deals even if doing so means that the AAV of said deal has to go up. That mold does not fit most of the deals that the top starters on the market were expected to get this offseason with the notable exception of Sonny Gray.

Gray was arguably the best option for the Braves this offseason. He was widely expected to be willing to sign a three or four year deal given his age and the guy just finished second in the AL Cy Young last year. Even with the lingering durability concerns he would, Gray felt like he was right up the Braves' alley especially given that Gray was from Tennessee and playing in Atlanta would have put him pretty close to home.

Unfortunately, that was not to be as the Cardinals of all teams were able to swoop in and sign him to a three year, $75 million contract. After he signed, Gray said that he wanted to be a Cardinal, so it is possible that the Braves were already fighting an uphill battle to get Gray in the first place. That said, this feels like a deal that the Braves should have been willing to put on the table.

Who knows? Maybe Atlanta offered that much or more and just got spurned because of player preference like what happened with Aaron Nola early in the offseason. It was just an unfortunate turn of events given that Gray just felt like the kind of guy the Braves would target and he would have given the Braves another quality starter to build around going forward.

The Braves are going to regret not making more money available for this offseason

This is just a general regret, but an important one to consider. With the Braves decided to exercise Charlie Morton's $20 million option, it basically took the vast majority of the Braves' financial flexibility away if they care at all about the luxury tax. In actual dollars, the Braves aren't doing too badly for 2024, but the luxury tax implications of all of these extensions to young guys meant that the Braves 2024 payroll is well into the luxury tax penalty already and that is without addressing the team's primary offseason need in the rotation.

This could have been avoided. Sure, not exercising Morton's option just would have created another hole in the rotation, but would have also probably allowed the Braves to be bigger players at the top of the free agent market and, presumably, would have led to that rotation spot getting an upgrade that would have been around for a few seasons at least. Instead, Atlanta just has to hope that Charlie has one more healthy, productive season in him and that they don't regret being hamstrung by payroll during one of the better free agent starter classes we have seen in a long time.

The good news is that the Braves will have plenty of money after the 2024 season, although the market is much thinner next offseason. Juan Soto is going to be the ultimate prize unless the Yankees get him to sign an extension, but the Braves' interest level there is going to depend on how Kelenic pans out and there is the Scott Boras Factor to consider with Soto even if the Braves might still need a left fielder going into next offseason.

Hopefully things all work out. The Braves still could make a trade for a starter like Dylan Cease or Shane Bieber or end up with one of the remaining free agent arms. If that comes to pass, Atlanta's financial flexibility next offseason, especially if they decline Marcell Ozuna's club option. could make re-signing Max Fried or even pursuing Zack Wheeler more feasible assuming both guys stay healthy and are awesome again next season. If not, not being willing/able to strike this offseason is going to feel that much worse.

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