Braves mailbag: Trade options, player extensions, and more

The Atlanta Braves begin the second half of the 2023 season today against the White Sox. To celebrate, we thought it would be great to answer some of your burning questions!
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Gatorade All-Star Workout Day / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Braves second-half kicks off today so we thought it would be great to answer some of your questions about the team. Whether it has to do with potential trades or questions about what to expect in the second half, we hope you'll appreciate the answers we have for you.

Has an extension been offered to Max Fried?

Steven: At this moment in time, there has been no extension offered and there’s no indication that there have been talks happening or if a deal is imminent. That doesn’t mean they aren’t happening but AA is one to keep negotiations as under wraps as possible. Fried is in line to receive a very nice contract in the same range that Carlos Rodon received this past off-season. Rodon’s deal was for six years and $162 million for an AAV of $27 million. I did a piece on what a Max Fried extension could look like and you can check that out right here.

The biggest contract that the Braves have given under Anthopoulos is for $22 million so it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Braves go that route. With how things went with Freeman and Swanson, we’ve learned AA sticks to what he says. If he isn’t comfortable with a number, he simply won’t make the deal. Fried is certainly worth the money but the chances of an extension being done before the season ends seem highly unlikely.

Is Travis d'Arnaud the backup catcher now?

Chase: If you strictly want to look at it from a one is the starter one is the backup perspective, then yes, Travis d’Arnaud is the backup catcher. However, the Braves know the value Travis provides so he sees a good bit of playing time. With how they both are playing and the scarcity of talent at the position, it’s not a stretch to say the Braves have two top-ten catchers on their roster. We knew when AA made the trade for Murphy that he was trading in an area that didn’t necessarily need an upgrade. However, the upgrade Murphy has provided is otherworldly.

The problem with getting Travis more reps behind the plate is that Murphy has been every bit of an MVP candidate as he currently sits fourth in baseball with a 3.9 fWAR. Sean has been the better hitter and is much better at throwing potential base stealers out. I’m a big advocate for getting both of these guys more reps at DH. I understand Snit wanting to keep Ozuna in full-time with the hot stretch he had, but spelling him with one of the catchers once a week isn’t the worst idea either.

Will the Braves re-sign Charlie Morton?

Steven: Charlie Morton currently has a club option for the 2024 season worth $20 million and does not include a buyout. The simple answer is that it’s up to how Charlie performs the rest of the season and if the Braves feel like he’s worth bringing back next year. Will they consider having Charlie past 2024? I don’t believe so.

It feels like these last two seasons will end up being Morton’s last as he turns 40 this coming November. He could very well decide to hang it up after this season. It’s been a treat having Charlie in a Braves uniform but it does feel like this year could be his swan song.

Can the Atlanta Braves afford Shohei Ohtani?

Chase: The short answer is simply, no. As wishful thinking as it may be, it’s just not something the Braves can do. So, don’t shoot the messenger here, trust me I’ve fantasized about a lineup and rotation featuring the league's biggest star as well but this isn’t a Braves being cheap thing; This is an Ohtani being too expensive thing.

As we know with the Braves' success they are now notorious for locking up their young talent with long-term extensions. This means the Braves payroll will not be fluctuating substantially over the next half-decade. They already have a large number committed to payroll, so if they want to sign Ohtani they would then creep towards the Mets level of heavily-taxed payroll.

Ohtani is the biggest star in the sport. He gives you unheard-of production from two separate positions. Ohtani the hitter, would be cashing in on a big payday in the winter. Ohtani the pitcher would be cashing in on a big pay day in the winter. You put those both together and we’re in for the largest contract to be handed out in MLB history. Sadly, the Braves just can’t afford to be handing that contract out.

Who will Atlanta get at the trade deadline?

Steven: That is a good question since Atlanta really doesn’t have a lot of holes on their roster at the moment. The easy answer is to bet on a trade being made for a pitcher as you can never have enough pitching depth. Atlanta could look to a couple of teams such as the Pirates, Royals, and White Sox for those departments as each team has some decent options to choose from.

Some examples of pitchers that may make sense for the Braves are Lucas Giolito, Kendall Graveman, Kenyan Middleton, David Bednar, and Scott Barlow could all be potential options for pitching acquisitions. Look for some more in-depth reviews of trade options in the near future.

How will the starting rotation fair in the second half?

Chase: The first half of the season saw a pretty strong showing for the Braves rotation. Considering the injuries I gave them a B+ performance in my mid-season report card. They start the second half with the anticipation of ace Max Fried rejoining the rotation by early August. That alone should boost the performance in itself. At the same time, you can argue a pitcher like Elder is due for some regression. Expecting a sub-3.00 ERA from Bryce over the final two months plus shouldn’t be your thinking.

The wild card seems to be if the Braves get Kyle Wright back and if they do what does he look like? If they get the Kyle Wright of last season then you have to feel really strong about the rotation heading into meaningful baseball come October. That said, this team is so strong in every area, they really just need sustained health from the guys available now (Strider, Morton, Elder) and they will have a really good shot at doing something special.

Should Michael Harris II be moved up in the lineup?

Steven: It’s no secret that 2023 started off very rough for Michael Harris II but he’s turned a serious corner as of late and is starting to heat back up his former self. You could make the case he should move higher in the lineup but in 112 games in the ninth spot, Harris II has a .293 average with 21 homers and 61 RBI. The other spots in the lineup he’s had a decent amount of games at are in the lower half of the line up 23 of them batting 8th (.286 average), 18 batting 7th (.258 average), and 14 batting sixth (.353 average).

I think if you’re Brian Snitker, you just leave things how they are until you need to make a change since everyone is clicking pretty well at the moment. Also, having Harris II bat ahead of Acuna coming to the plate is a pretty valuable and fun asset to have. 

Thank you so much for your questions!

On behalf of the entire team at House That Hank Built, I want to thank you all for sending in your questions! We will do a few more of these this year so be on the lookout on our social media accounts at Facebook and Twitter so that you can send your questions in to us!