Royals: Making the case for free agency, Braves edition

Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images /

Ahead of Kansas City Royals free agency, let’s take a look at the Atlanta Braves’ upcoming free agents and decide whether the team should pursue any.

Welcome to the continuation of our “Kansas City Royals: Making the case” series for free agency. In Brian Snitker‘s third full season on the job, the Atlanta Braves‘ young core continued to prove why it’s one of the best units in all of baseball. As a whole, Atlanta won 97 regular season games and a pair of contests in the NLDS. Ronald Acuña continued to cement himself as one of the future faces of the league.

Spotrac’s official list identifies plenty of players the Braves’ front office will have to decide whether to keep or let go this offseason. Are any of them worth the Royals pursuing? Let’s find out.

Josh Donaldson3B

After a down 2018 season shortened by injury, Donaldson proved why he’s a former MVP and three-time All-Star. Posting a .259/.379/.521 line and clubbing 37 home runs, it was a season to remember for one of the game’s best players. As Donaldson approaches his 34th birthday, Atlanta has extended a qualifying offer to him. If he declines it and hits the free agent market, he’ll generate a ton of interest. The Royals are not going to be in contention in 2020, so it wouldn’t make much sense to bring in a player of Donaldson’s caliber as he ages a bit.

Verdict: Pass

Dallas KeuchelP

In one of the weirdest developments of last season, Keuchel remained a free agent for a lot longer than he should have. Finally signing with Atlanta, the lefty went 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 19 starts. He’s still one of the better pitchers in baseball, although he may never replicate the success he had during that epic 2017 season. Keuchel will turn 32 in January which is a bit older than an ideal candidate that fits the Royals’ contention timeline. He’ll also command a hefty salary if things play out as planned. It’d be neat to see him as one of the good guys, though.

Verdict: Potentially (but almost surely not)

Darren O’DayP

O’Day was limited to just 5.1 innings pitched at the major league level last season and is 37 years old. The Royals don’t need to do any further research.

Verdict: Pass

Anthony SwarzakP

Swarzak has posted an ERA of at least 4.50 in three of his last four seasons. At 34 years old, he doesn’t bring too much to the table as a reliever besides avoiding being horrible. He improved a bit once he was sent from Seattle to Atlanta, but Dayton Moore can probably still pass on him.

Verdict: Pass

Julio TeheranP

It seems like Teheran has been in the MLB for 15 years, but he’ll be entering his 10th years in the league next season. Still over a year away from his 30th birthday, the two-time All-Star has put together a pair of solid seasons in a row. He fits the Royals’ timeline and isn’t a top-tier name. A more realistic target compared to a lot of the pitchers we’ve covered recently, Kansas City should absolutely go after him this winter.

Verdict: Pursue

Billy HamiltonCF

Hamilton was a member of the Royals for a large chunk of 2019. He’s a great defender and runs fast, but that’s about it. The team has enough players like that currently battling for playing time at center field.

Verdict: Pass

Jerry BlevinsP

Blevins rebounded from a rough 2018 to post some respectable numbers in 2019. At 36, he’s still a risk in terms of pitching at a consistent level from year to year. The Royals have dealt with that for long enough in their bullpen.

Verdict: Pass

Matthew JoyceLF

A 35-year-old outfielder (stop me if you’ve heard that before in discussions about the Royals), Joyce had a bounce-back 2019 season. That seems to be a theme with a lot of the Braves’ free agents. With that said, there’s only one soon-to-be 36-year-old outfielder the Royals have a chance at putting on the field in 2020 — and his name is Alex Gordon.

Verdict: Pass

Seventh Gold Glove adds to Alex Gordon’s legacy. dark. Next

Francisco CervelliC

A former starter with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cervelli split time with his old team and the Braves in 2019. He performed a lot better at his second stop, posting a .281/.378/.688 line in 14 games. That’s promising, potentially opening the door for Cervelli to compete for a starting job as he turns 34 by the beginning of next season. If he’s content with coming off the bench at this point in his career, he’d be an excellent backup to Perez in Kansas City. That’s not likely, though.

Verdict: Pass (probably)