6 moves that are proof the Braves have been busy this offseason

Don't sound the alarm bells just yet. The Braves have made significant progress to improve their team for the 2024 season.
Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox - Game Two
Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox - Game Two / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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Reynaldo Lopez
Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

Say hello to Reynaldo

A few days after adding Aaron Bummer via trade, the Braves added another former Chicago White Sox pitcher. Atlanta announced the signing of free agent RHP Reynaldo Lopez on a 3-year deal worth $30 million.

It appeared the Braves had once again continued to improve their bullpen. However, it was announced soon after that Lopez would be stretched out during Spring Training with the potential to fill a starting role for Atlanta.

After joining the team, Lopez expressed how so many people had told him what a great organization Atlanta was to be a part of.

"People I spoke to -- my inner circle of friends, everybody -- spoke highly of the organization. When my agent said that there was an opportunity I said, ‘Let's do it.’"

Reynaldo Lopez on joining the Braves

Lopez didn't go into the offseason hoping to be a starting pitcher, though he did start in 2020. However, the Braves are providing the opportunity. They have long shown the ability to help pitchers reach the next level.

López posted a 3.27 ERA and 29.9% strikeout rate while pitching for the White Sox, Angels, and Guardians in 2023. Opponents batted .188 with a .545 OPS against his fastball last season and that fastball averages around 98.2 mph.

He's had a rough go of it as a professional at times but the way he performed over the last two seasons, including a 3.02 ERA, is what convinced Atlanta to make the move.

Jarred Kelenic
Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Jarred Kelenic, you are an Atlanta Brave

One of the biggest moves made by AA included a five-player deal that sent Jackson Kowar and Cole Phillips to the Seattle Mariners. In return, the Braves received Jarred Kelenic, Marco Gonzales, and Evan White.

Atlanta essentially took on two bad contracts to land five years of Jarred Kelenic. Kelenic hasn't reached his full potential in the majors just yet but the Braves like what they see and really believe they can help fix his swing.

The plan is to have him compete for the starting job in left field alongside Vaughn Grissom. Marco Gonzales looked to be an answer for the Braves rotation but the team never planned on keeping him and ended up flipping him to the Pirates for a player to be named later.

Evan White was later traded to the Los Angeles Angels for Max Stassi and David Fletcher. Fletcher is now in the Atlanta minor league system and Stassi was sent to the White Sox for a player to be named later.

Back to Kelenic, he struggled to hit at all during the 2021 and 2022 seasons but improved in the first half of 2023, batting .253/.327/.419 with an OPS of .746 during that time. He injured himself after kicking a water cooler after a loss and missed a month of the season.

He returned and didn't do much worth noting. The Braves believe they can help turn Kelenic into the player many expected in Seattle. He was a top prospect for a reason. Kelenic is also coming to the Braves with a fresh perspective after that mid-season injury.

Atlanta took on around $17 in bad contracts because they highly believe in Jarred's potential to be a difference-maker on this team and he's embraced that opportunity.

Honorable Mention

The Braves' most recent move was a trade with the Padres featuring a hard-throwing lefty Ray Kerr and veteran slugger Matt Carpenter. San Diego did include $1.5 million in cash as well. Atlanta sent over outfield prospect Drew Campbell in return.

Carpenter has since been released by the Braves meaning they eat the remaining $4 million owed to him for the season.

Kerr was the highlight of this deal. He posted a 4.33 ERA over 22 appearances last season. Right-handers hit pretty well against him but he was effective against left-handers, who combined for a .161 batting average and a .547 OPS.

His fastball sits in the upper 90s and helped him achieve a 28% strikeout rate in the majors. His main issue is command as walks were a bit of an issue but the Braves believe they can fix him and make Kerr a key piece of this bullpen.

In conclusion, this should show you that Alex Anthopoulos has done much more than nothing. They may not be the biggest splashes but as usual, these moves are intentional and ones that help the team compete in 2024 and beyond.

There are also 2 months left before Spring Training which means anything is possible. Some free-agent pitching options remain and the Braves have been rumored to still be in on a trade for Dylan Cease. I'd exercise a bit of patience before judging the offseason as a failure or calling AA a fraud.

It's okay to want a big splash during the offseason but don't lose sight of the Braves' vision for building a championship team for many years to come. AA has always found a way to give the team exactly what they need and that won't stop now.

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