As of now, it is officially the 2023 MLB offseason. The Texas Rangers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks last night to capture their first World Series championship, and now the offseason festivities can officially begin.
Unfortunately, for the Atlanta Braves, the offseason has been in place for a couple weeks now. They have already taken the liberty of making an important bullpen signing, just a week ago. However, with the baseball season officially over, the Braves are faced with some important decisions with a quick approaching deadline.
We have talked here on this site about the Braves five contract option decisions they had to make within five days of the baseball season ending. Now that those five days are on the clock let's take a look at what we think the Braves will do with each player.
Charlie Morton - $20 million club option (no buyout)
We have talked ad nauseum about Charlie Morton's option for the 2024 season. His option is the largest in dollars, but the price of starting pitching is high in this league. The first question we need answered is if Morton wants to continue pitching at all. Charlie will be 40 years-old soon and certainly aware that his time playing baseball may be complete.
If he does want to continue pitching I'm sure the Braves would love to bring him back, although perhaps not at that $20 million figure. Should Atlanta decline this option, or Morton retire, the rotation would consist of Fried (in his last year before free agency), Strider, and Elder as the only locks.
Given how difficult it is to find viable pitching my guess is the Braves quickly pick up Morton's option should he want to continue pitching. Let's hope he does, so we can get one more season of Charlie Morton buzz saw curveballs like the one below.
Do we think they bring him back: Yes
Brad Hand - $7 million mutual option (500K buyout)
There probably isn't much to write about on this decision. Out of the five the Braves have to make, this might be the quickest decision made. It's not that I don't think the Braves value Brad Hand, he was on the NLDS roster after all, it's just I don't think they value him at $7 million.
Hand has had a solid career to this point, and did a fairly decent job neutralizing lefties once the Braves acquired him at last year's trade deadline, but that type of financial commitment doesn't make sense for Atlanta. However, don't be surprised if Hand is name they circle back to sometime in February for left-handed bullpen depth.
Do we think they bring him back: No