When the Atlanta Braves left the Winter Meetings with Reed Johnson the only significant acquisition, some eyebrows were raised as to whether or not Atlanta would head into 2013 with a viable left fielder.
Will Johnson and Juan Francisco platoon while Martin Prado split time at third and in left?
It's possible, but not likely.
The offseason is still young, and Braves GM Frank Wren is still looking for that impact player in left field—preferably one that could also bat leadoff.
While Atlanta was looking at both Alex Gordon and Wil Myers of the Kansas City Royals as potential trades, the recent Royals-Rays blockbuster deal essentially eliminates any possibility of Kansas City moving Gordon.
Let me clear up a couple misconceptions while I have the opportunity:
Justin Upton would be wonderful to have in Atlanta. However, Arizona seemingly wants to be blown away by any Upton deal, and would require that the Braves fork over Andrelton Simmons, whom Wren has deemed "unreachable."
Also, Mike Stanton is not getting traded to the Braves.
However, here are seven guys that could in fact find themselves in left field for the Braves to open up the 2013 season.
It's no secret that the Braves have been considering bringing Atlanta-native Dexter Fowler back home, as they've reportedly been checking in on his price-tag.
Fowler would be a great fit in Atlanta, combining youth with upside, speed, switch-hitting capability and a knack for getting on base.
There are two caveats in acquiring Fowler though.
One is his home/away splits, which feature nearly a 90 point swing in OBP.
The other is his price, and if he can improve enough outside of Coors Field to warrant such an offering.
Nonetheless, he is still an option that the Atlanta Front Office should weigh heavily.
Toronto might not want to move Emilio Bonifacio, but Wren should at least give Alex Anthopoulos a call.
Once thought of as a flash-in-the-pan, Bonifacio broke out in 2011 and had a respectable 2012 season despite it being injury-marred.
Bonifacio can not hit for a lick of power, but showcases absolutely blinding speed, a good walk-rate, defensive versatility and an ability to hit from both sides of the plate.
Additionally, Bonifacio would be very affordable financially and would probably not cost Atlanta very much in terms of collateral sacrifices. He could probably be bought with a mid-level prospect that the Braves could bear to part with.
However, with Maicer Izturis Toronto's next-best second base option, would the Blue Jays want to move Bonifacio?
It's worth asking.
Like Fowler, Shin-Soo Choo's name has also been shopped around this offseason.
Perhaps the most intriguing name on this slideshow, Choo gets on base at an outstanding clip. He can also hit for moderate power and steal a good number of bases.
However, at what price would he come? Would Randall Delgado be enough, or would the Indians want more?
The advanced metrics haven't seemed to like him much in the past couple of years, putting him at roughly four WAR in the past two seasons combined. To be worth a high trade price, Choo would need to return to being at least a four WAR player.
Now is when I start to weigh impact versus practicality.
Coco Crisp has warts.
Not literally of course. How should I know what resides on the undersides of Crisp's feet?
But figuratively, very much so. He's fluctuated in terms of defensive value, he's a 32-year-old who relies on his legs for value, and he started very, very slowly last season.
However, he can get on base, he can run, and he can really energize a lineup from the top down.
Oakland currently has Yoenis Cespedes, Seth Smith, Chris Young and Josh Reddick in the outfield; Crisp could be parted with and not really slow the Athletics down (so to speak).
He wouldn't cost much in terms of trade-return, and if it required a package to land Crisp, Atlanta could have a shot at also adding Grant Green to the fold as a long-term solution at either left field or second base.
By far the least flashy of trade ideas, David DeJesus fills the exact roles Frank Wren is looking for.
Not the conventional leadoff hitter with speed to burn, DeJesus has a penchant for getting on base and could thereby service the most important role of a leadoff hitter: setting the table for the heart of the order.
DeJesus would cost Atlanta virtually nothing provided Theo Epstein isn't ridiculously overvaluing him, and would be a low-risk opportunity for Atlanta to most assuredly add a couple wins to their projections.
A very solid ballplayer, DeJesus is someone I would definitely make a few calls regarding, as he would be an under-the-radar but extremely effective addition to the Braves.
It wasn't too long ago that Grady Sizemore was my favorite baseball player.
From 2005-2008, Sizemore could do no wrong. He hit for power, stole many a base, reached base at will and played center field with reckless abandon.
Unfortunately, injuries have ravaged a special, special talent, and Sizemore has not played a full season since 2009.
Which is exactly why Atlanta should be giving Sizemore a long hard look to play left field next year.
Sizemore will be looking for a one-year deal to prove that he is healthy and can still impact a ball-club, and if there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that there is no such thing as a bad one-year deal.
I wouldn't be expecting the Grady Sizemore that joined the 30-30 club, but if he could put in 500 at bats and hit 20 home runs with a .340 OBP, he would be worth every penny of his deal.
If worst comes to worst and Sizemore finds that his knees no longer exist, Atlanta would still have the assets to trade for a left fielder at the trade deadline. Perhaps Evan Gattis or Juan Francisco could step up and be of value to the Braves.
Sizemore is a very low-risk signing with boundless reward. Atlanta needs to get in touch with him now.
See what I did? I put the cover-boy on the final slide to make you read it all!
Jacoby Ellsbury is one year removed from a ridiculous MVP-caliber season—one that will likely define his career.
However, he was injured for much of 2012, putting his future in Boston at risk, especially with landscapes changing in Beantown.
After a down-year, the time may be right for Atlanta to snatch Ellsbury up. He will likely rebound and become an excellent player once again, and if the price is right, the Braves could benefit greatly.
A Scott Boras client, Ellsbury is most likely not a long-term solution in Atlanta, but for one year, he would fit spectacularly atop the Braves lineup.
The only question is, at what cost?