4 pending free agents the Braves need to target this offseason

There are still a couple months left in the season, but it never too early to start thinking about the Braves' offseason plans.

World Series - Atlanta Braves v Houston Astros - Game Six
World Series - Atlanta Braves v Houston Astros - Game Six / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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While there are no shortage of people talking about what the Atlanta Braves did (or didn't) do at the trade deadline, it is also around the time of the year where attention starts to turn to what needs the Braves should address this coming offseason for 2024 and beyond.

The Braves have some pretty tough choices coming up. Max Fried is about to enter his final year of arbitration eligibility and is going to be making big money in 2024. Is an extension in the cards? Could we see the Braves consider trading Fried? Atlanta also has to make decisions regarding club options for Charlie Morton ($20 million), Eddie Rosario ($9 million), Kirby Yates ($5.75 million), and Collin McHugh ($6 million).

When you put all those guys along with pending free agents like Joe Jimenez, Pierce Johnson, Kevin Pillar, and Jesse Chavez and you have a lot for the Braves to consider very, very soon. Fortunately, we have a reasonably good idea as to who will be available on the free agent market after the season and whether or not they would be good fits for the Braves.

Here are 4 pending free agents that the Braves need to target this offseason

The goal here isn't to target pie-in-the-sky options for the Braves in free agency. Sure, Shohei Ohtani is a once in a lifetime player who is about to get a ginormous contract, but Alex Anthopoulos is on the record as not liking to overcommit to a single player on long-term deals and it seems very, very likely that Ohtani wants to stay on the west coast even if the Braves were to throw a pile of money at him.

There are also guys with various kinds of contract options for next season whose statuses/availability is unclear, so we are going to avoid such players for the moment unless there is a strong reason to believe that those options won't get exercised. The names available are obviously going to change, but this is a good starting point.

Anyways, let's get to the list of pending free agents the Braves should target this coming offseason.

The Braves bringing back Jorge Soler would be sweet

One would not struggle to find Braves fans eager to see an reunion with Jorge Soler. In addition to just playing really well in his short stint with the Braves in 2021, Soler's home run in the World Series is already considered to be among the top playoff moments in Braves history. Soler ended up heading to the Marlins after his time in Atlanta and he has continued to do Soler things this season with 28 home runs and an .836 OPS in 2023.

Given that he has played well for Miami this season, it does seem likely that he will not exercise his $9 million player option with Miami for 2024. He wouldn't be dirt cheap as he will definitely want to top that $9 million he is leaving on the table for next season, but adding Soler would give the Braves a number of options. One, it takes care of at least the right-handed side of any left field platoon with a bat with big-time power. Second, giving Soler a multi-year deal would give Atlanta another DH option if/when they finally decide to give up on Marcell Ozuna.

Jordan Montgomery should be near the top of the Braves' starter targets list

Even if one operates under the assumption that the Braves and Max Fried can get together on a contract extension, the Braves need to add at least one rotation arm this offseason if not two. There are just too many questions beyond Fried and Spencer Strider and one way to provide some stability in the rotation would be to add Jordan Montgomery this offseason.

Montgomery isn't particularly sexy as a pitcher. He doesn't light up his Statcast page and his fastball only averages around 93 MPH. However, the guy just puts up good starts and throws strikes night in and night out. The Braves don't necessarily need to add an ace this offseason and they would certainly prefer not to have to pay an ace price to anyone. However, getting a 2-3 WAR starter that keeps them in games is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Sonny Gray would be a fantastic addition to the Braves rotation

If the Braves were wanting to go a bit bigger and/or really heavily invest in their rotation, the best option available this offseason outside of Ohtani for the Braves is probably Sonny Gray. Sure, Aaron Nola is going to be a free agent, but it sure seems like both the Phillies and Nola have a decent amount of interest in staying together plus he will likely be out of the Braves' price range anyways.

In Gray, you get another guy that just puts up low to mid 3 ERAs every single season. Right now he is amidst one of the best seasons of his career which could drive his price up, but he is also 34 years old and doesn't have overpowering stuff. With a decent amount of money coming off the books (especially if they don't pick up Morton's option), the Braves could afford to give Gray a three or so year deal and really shore up their rotation assuming, of course, that Gray doesn't end up retiring.

Keynan Middleton would give the Braves even more bullpen depth

It is a mortal lock that the Braves' front office will sign at least one reliever this offseason. You can chisel that in stone. While some of the Braves' guys who are set to hit free agency could end up signing back with the team, one name to keep an eye on from outside the organization is Keynan Middleton.

On the surface, a bullpen arm with nearly a 4 ERA isn't particularly exciting, but Middleton requires a closer examination. The vast majority of his peripherals look really strong and his Statcast profile has a whole lot of red on it (that's good). Additionally, he isn't considered to be a lock-down closer type on the market so signing him shouldn't be too cost-prohibitive. The Braves love upside in their relievers and Middleton could be a nice pick-up towards that end.

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