Atlanta Braves + Randy Arozarena
Arozarena burst onto the scene during the 2020 postseason tournament by helping the Rays beat Toronto, the Yankees, and the Astros, hitting 10 home runs in 18 games, and being named ALCS MVP.
In his first three full Major League seasons, Arozarena batted .264/.349/.443/.792 with a 124 OPS+ and averaged 21 homers a year. Baseball-Reference says those seasons were worth 10.2 rWAR, while Fangraphs gives him 9.8 fWAR and values his offense at .344 wOBA and 126 wRC+.
Arozarena plays at 29 next year, has three years of team control remaining, and MLBTR projects a 2024 salary of $9M. So, why would the Rays trade him? They could easily fit him into their payroll this year, but his contract will likely jump to $13M next year, and if he continues to perform as he has, somewhere near $18.5 in 2026, a sum well above the Rays comfort zone.
The Rays gave Tyler Glasnow a contract worth $25M to lead their staff this year, but their pitching staff was hit hard by injuries in the second half of last season. I’ve seen speculation that they’ll trade Glasnow, but I doubt that happens because they’re so short-handed.
A deal built around Bryce Elder could bring Arozarena to Atlanta; something like Elder, Drake Baldwin, and Ian Anderson in exchange for Arozarena, Carlos Colmenarez, and Jose Urbina could work.
I understand that trading Elder adds another vacancy in the rotation; I’ll address that after discussing option two, Anthony Santander.
Logjam at Camden Yards?
The Orioles have an outfield logjam. Anthony Santander returns to man left, Cedric Mullins will patrol center, and Hays covering right, with Heston Kjerstad, Colton Cowser, and Kyle Stowers knocking on the door.
According to Fangraphs, Santander was the third-best hitting outfielder (by fWAR 4.6), but he’s not a great defender. Most expect he’s the player the Orioles move if they decide to give one of the rookies a shot. Aside from his $12.7M being their most expensive arbitration contract this winter, this is his walk year. This means the club must decide if they’ll trade him, extend him, or wait until the deadline when teams are willing to give them more for a short-term rental.
If the Atlanta Braves are okay with a one-year rental and the chance to extend him or get a QO, Santander may fit their needs. His cost in players won’t reach the same level as Arozarena. A deal built around Ian Anderson or Dylan Dodd, plus a couple of warm bodies, might get it done.