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Power Ranking the Atlanta Braves' Offseason Signings so Far

Gavin AndrewsCorrespondent IIDecember 21, 2012

Power Ranking the Atlanta Braves' Offseason Signings so Far

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    While they may not be the Boston Red Sox, the Atlanta Braves have had a busy offseason.

    Well, at least for themselves. Of the six major league contracts Atlanta dished out during the first half of the offseason, five went to pre-existing Braves.

    The other though, was the largest free-agent contract in Atlanta Braves history. 

    So let's power rank the offseason signings, shall we? 

6. Reed Johnson

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    Deal: One year, $1.75 million

    Reed Johnson was a particularly deft signing (or rather, re-signing) by the Atlanta brass, as he can play all three outfield positions in addition to providing a brilliant pinch-hitter off the bench.

    In a platoon role, Johnson can get on base at a great clip, but he has not been given 500 at-bats since 2006, when he posted an unsustainable batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .366.

    If Atlanta doesn't obtain a full-time left fielder, Johnson could see more time than usual in a three-way platoon with Martin Prado and Juan Francisco, which makes this signing pretty significant. 

    However, it's most likely that the Braves will make a move that simply re-establishes Johnson as a very valuable reserve.

5. Gerald Laird

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    Deal: Two years, $3.3 million

    Gerald Laird is not a better player than Reed Johnson. But with Brian McCann out for the start of the 2012 season (and only signed for one year), Laird finds himself in a critical position for the Braves, as he'll be the full-time catcher for at least a month.

    He won't be confused for David Ross, but Laird will provide clubhouse leadership, function passably (if barely) offensively, be a knowledgeable veteran battery-mate for the young Atlanta pitching staff and possibly mentor Christian Bethancourt, should McCann leave after the 2012 campaign.

4. Paul Maholm

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    Deal: One year, $6.5 million

    Plagued with inconsistency for much of his career, Paul Maholm has really come on the past couple of years to establish himself as a reliable back-of-the-rotation starter.

    In 2012, Maholm even saw his strikeout rate rise considerably, lending credence to the possibility that he's figured things out. 

    He'll serve as an excellent fourth starter and mentor to fellow lefty Mike Minor. In the current market, his $6.5 million deal is a bargain.

3. Tim Hudson

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    Deal: One year, $9 million

    Baseball's most underrated staff-ace, Tim Hudson isn't further up on this list simply because of Atlanta's incredible wealth of arms.

    Between Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Paul Maholm, Randall Delgado, Julio Teheran and the returning Brandon Beachy, Hudson's return only puts the Braves rotation over the top. His veteran guile, presence atop the rotation and ability to keep the clubhouse mood light will undoubtedly be felt in the upcoming season.

    With Hudson back, Atlanta can definitely move into 2013 with the confidence that its pitching staff will rival any in the game.

2. Brian McCann

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    Deal: One year, $12 million

    It's no secret that an injury-plagued Brian McCann turned in a disappointing 2012 season.

    However, with his shoulder surgery successful, the McCann who returns to the Braves should remind fans of the 2006-11 offensive force.

    He'll miss a month or two to begin the year, but when healthy, McCann will provide incredible value from the catching position—a very rare commodity.

1. B.J. Upton

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    Deal: Five years, $75.25 million

    You've seen the statistics and read the cases. 

    You don't need me to tell you that B.J. Upton is an absolute enigma. He can put up a 30-30 season but can also lay an OBP under .300.

    He can carry a team on his back, but he can also go through long stretches of offensive drought.

    He is, however, a valuable commodity. The .298 OBP in 2012 was by and large an anomaly as he has a career rate of .336. Some pundits may write that Atlanta is paying for potential, but I disagree—Upton has historically been about a four Wins Above Replacement (WAR) player per year and is just entering his prime.

    Upton is the biggest signing of the Braves offseason. Should he pull his enormous talent together, he could very well be the biggest signing of anyone's offseason.

    And if he performs as he has in the past, he'll still be valuable.

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