With Shelby Miller officially packing his bags for Arizona, the Atlanta Braves are now shifting their attention to trade deals in the outfield. The team already got a deal for Cameron Maybin earlier in the offseason, but have no plans on stopping there. Declared winners of the winter meetings, team president John Hart proved he has the bigger picture in mind, so who is the next to leave the Braves?
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Nick Markakis and Ender Inciarte are gaining the most attention on the open market. With plenty of marquee pitchers off the market, teams are now looking to make adjustments in the outfield with a number of players available. Markakis and Inciarte are two of the better options, but the Braves will not make them cheap.
According to MLB Insider Ken Rosenthal, the Chicago Cubs have interest in a deal for Inciarte despite acquiring Jason Heyward. The Braves originally acquire Inciarte in the deal for Miller and have stated they do not plan on trading him, but the amount of interest in him might be too tempting for Hart. The Cubs have two players the Braves have been eyeing. Javier Baez is expendable with the addition of Ben Zobrist while Jorge Soler could be on his way out with the Heyward contract. The Braves might be willing to trade Inciarte for one of the two players.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that Markakis could be headed to the Baltimore Orioles or Kansas City Royals in the near future. The outfielder is owed $33 million over the next three years, but neck surgery has weakened his power at the plate while his defense was an issue last season. Trading Markakis would take $11 million off the books and give the Braves much more flexibility financially. The Royals need to replace Alex Gordon who is set to get a big contract in free agency while the Orioles need to make pay roll adjustments before being able to bring back Markakis.
If available, Inciarte is likely the more enticing deal for teams. The Braves liked the idea of putting him in the outfield alongside Hector Olivera while having Michael Bourn or Nick Swisher around as well. The Braves would love to include Swisher or Bourn in an upcoming trade deal if they can make it work. That would continue to free up space financially.
Nothing is imminent in terms of trade deals, but the Braves will continue to be sellers throughout the offseason. With the goal of becoming competitive in 2017, the Braves are trying to ship off overpaid veterans and get young talent in the mix. They have done well at achieving that so far which has put a little bit of optimism back in the city of Atlanta.