3 sneaky MLB free agents Atlanta must target

The Atlanta Braves won the World Series in 2021, but 2022 provided a rather tough title defense. They stumbled out of the gates and lagged behind the New York Mets for most of the season in the NL East.

However, they turned it on late, catching and eventually surpassing the Mets to win the division once again. Despite that triumph, they failed to successfully defend their championship. They lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS, and watched their division rival go all the way to the Fall Classic.

This offseason may see some big moves from the Braves. Non-stop rumors of a move for former Mets ace Jacob deGrom continue to swirl with no end in sight. Longtime star shortstop Dansby Swanson is a free agent, free to leave at a moment’s notice.

The Braves will definitely be active as they attempt to chase another World Series ring. What are their options on the open market? Where can they find the best fit for their team? Here are three interesting names to keep an eye on.

3 sneaky MLB free agents Braves must target

3) Pitcher Adam Ottavino

The Braves are seeing Jesse Chavez, Luke Jackson, and closer Kenley Jansen hit free agency. None of these players are complete locks to return to Atlanta, clearing the way for an addition or two to the bullpen.

Atlanta has always been an aggressive team in the relief market in recent years. They are rather relentless when it comes to fortifying the bullpen.

This year, the Braves should target Adam Ottavino. The 37-year-old has not always been a model of consistency throughout his career. However, he was fantastic in 2022 with the New York Mets.

He pitched to a 2.06 ERA, his best mark since the 2019 season with the New York Yankees. The veteran reliever struck out 79 batters and walked just 16 in 65.2 innings pitched.

Ottavino would join a strong bullpen, regardless of whether Jansen and company are re-signed. And any chance you can take to strengthen a strength, you take it.

2) Pitcher Jose Quintana

The Braves are also interested in upgrading the starting rotation. The rumors surrounding deGrom speak to that. However, concerns over the form of Mike Soroka also add to the interest in adding to the rotation.

If the Braves miss out on deGrom, looking a bit down the market may be worthwhile. Enter Jose Quintana, who enjoyed a career renaissance in 2022.

The 33-year-old was once one of the American League’s better pitchers. He broke out with the Chicago White Sox, and went crosstown to the Cubs in 2017 as they attempted to defend their World Series title.

However, he struggled in the following years. He left the Cubs in 2021, spending time with the Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco Giants. Before the 2022 season, Quintana found a home with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The 33-year-old pitched to a 3.50 ERA with 89 strikeouts in Pittsburgh. At the trade deadline, the St. Louis Cardinals traded for Quintana, and that’s when he really shined.

He pitched to a sparkling 2.01 ERA down the stretch with the Cardinals, helping them into the postseason. He didn’t allow a run in his Wild Card Series outing against the Phillies, but St. Louis ultimately lost.

There are some encouraging signs here. Quintana may not be an ace, but he has shown the ability to pitch at a high level for a very competitive team. If deGrom is out of reach, Quintana may be a worthwhile signing.

1) Outfielder Joey Gallo

This suggestion may cause a few in the audience to click away immediately. However, Gallo fits rather well with the Braves and how they approach the game offensively.

The 29-year-old established himself as a middle-of-the-order power bat with the Texas Rangers. The New York Yankees made a move for him at the 2021 trade deadline. To say the move didn’t work out would be an understatement, however.

The last time Gallo hit above the Mendoza Line was in 2019, when he hit .253. You can stomach his lack of contact when you take his power into account, but that has fallen off as well.

The 29-year-old has hit just 32 homers since leaving Texas. To put this in perspective, he hit 25 homers in the half of 2021 he spent with Texas. And he hit 38 home runs in his last full season with the Rangers.

Gallo absolutely mashes right-handed pitching, carrying a .474 slugging percentage. The Braves love hitters who can hit right-handed pitching, so the fit is a good one.

Atlanta were reportedly interested in Gallo at the trade deadline last season. He ultimately landed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Braves acquired Robbie Grossman from the Detroit Tigers, who is now a free agent.

If Gallo can become the masher he was with the Rangers, this would be a very worthwhile signing for the 2021 World Series champions.

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