Atlanta Braves Players Who Must Be Let Go This Offseason
The Atlanta Braves find themselves in the midst of a Wild Card race, but it's never too early to project what the offseason may look like.
It's amazing the Braves are still in the playoff hunt considering the low points of the second half of the season. The Braves went on an eight-game losing streak and were also no-hit by the last-place Philadelphia Phillies as part of a four-game stretch in which the offense scored one run.
These stretches have signified the likelihood that the current construction of this roster will not bring a championship back to Atlanta. Because of this, I think general manager Frank Wren will make some drastic moves in the offseason.
Here's a look at five Braves who the organization should look to part ways with in the next few months.
1. Aaron Harang
Aaron Harang has really been all the Braves could have hoped for as a No. 5 starter to start the season. The 36-year-old has eaten up innings (173) while posting a solid 10-9 record and 3.64 ERA.
However, we have clearly seen a dip in performance over the past month. His August numbers (4.42 ERA, .293 opponent batting average) are below average. He's also posted just a 6.7 K/9 rate, which makes you wonder how much longer he can be effective.
The Braves will be hoping to add Kris Medlen back to the rotation and also have some young pitchers who could get a look as the No. 5 starter.
Harang was a nice addition for the 2014 season but should move on in 2015 when he hits free agency.
2. Ryan Doumit
Ryan Doumit has underwhelmed in his role as top player off the bench and top pinch hitter this season for the Braves. For the season, he has posted career lows in average (.191), on-base percentage (.230) and OPS (.528).
In his defense, he has received significantly fewer at-bats than his previous seasons.
The Braves surely expected somewhat of a decrease in production, but not the severity of his 2014 numbers. Doumit was expected to be a key part of the Braves bench.
Unfortunately, it hasn't worked out for either party, and the two should part ways in the offseason, as he will be a free agent.
3. Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson was the surprise performer of the 2013 season, but he has regressed into the player his career numbers had shown.
Among third base qualifiers in the National League, Johnson ranks last in on-base percentage (.296), OPS (.663) and wins above replacement (minus-1.1). He also leads the Braves in hitting into 22 double plays.
This season has shown that if Johnson doesn't hit for a high average, he is a below-average MLB third baseman.
The Braves have third baseman Kyle Kubitza in the minors who's posted a .405 OBP in 2014 for Double-A Mississippi and owns a career .381 OBP in the minors. He could be a young and cheap option while getting similar production.
This makes Johnson a player worth trading, as he has two years left on his deal with a team option in 2018.
2. Evan Gattis
Evan Gattis is arguably the best power-hitting catcher in baseball, as he leads MLB catchers with 21 home runs.
Why would the Braves try to get rid of Gattis this offseason then? There are a couple of factors working against Gattis.
The Braves have top catching prospect in Christian Bethancourt who has developed in the minors and is ready to make the jump to the MLB level. He has been solid for the Braves at the plate this season with a .278 average and projects to be a top defensive catcher.
Gattis is also 28, and the track record for catchers once they reach the age of 30 are not promising. However, this would make him a prime candidate to be traded to the American League, where he can catch and DH.
His power combined with the team control of Gattis for the next four years should bring back a nice haul of talent. It would be tough to see a fan favorite in Gattis go, but it is the best decision for the organization at this point.
1. B.J. Upton
The second year of the B.J. Upton experience has gone slightly better, but that is not saying much.
Despite manager Fredi Gonzalez doing everything he could to put Upton in a spot to succeed, he has clearly been the weak link of a bad 2014 lineup. Upton has put together abysmal numbers with a slash line of .206/.281/.323 and minus-1.2 WAR.
Should I mention that he is still due over $45 million over the next three years?
The Braves will obviously look to part ways with Upton this offseason, but will likely have to take on another bad contract to make it work.
Perhaps, the Braves could look for pitching help, as their track record has been much better with pitchers.