By not offering 1b Adam LaRoche arbitration, one would hope the Braves had a plan on how to fill the void at first base and right field. So far there's been no activity on their part while Nick Johnson, Hideki Matsui, Mike Cameron, have already signed. It's pretty evident Atlanta has no interest in the top two free agents Jason Bay and Matt Holliday as well. Well, then who should they sign to help the offense?Right now, it appears Atlanta's everyday lineup looks like this:
c: Brian McCann L
2b: Martin Prado R
3b: Chipper Jones B
ss: Yunel Escobar R
lf: Matt Diaz R
cf: Nate McLouth L
Bench: David Ross c, Diory Hernandez inf, Gregor Blanco of, Omar Infante inf/of
If/when Atlanta trades Derek Lowe they will have anywhere from $10-15 million coming off the books plus another $5-7 to spend. Here is what I recommend:
1. Sign Vladimir Guerrero. Just do it. Pay him what he wants, seriously. Vlad was hoping to be somebody's designated hitter but it seems those spots are all taken. Even Milton Bradley was traded to the AL to take up another DH spot. Sign Guerrero and put him at 1b. I don't care if he sucks over there. The Braves are desperate for a right-handed power hitter and Guerrero fits the bill. Guerrero would probably demand a 2-3 year deal for $9-12 million annually.
2. Sign Randy Winn to a two-year deal. Randy Winn would be a perfect fit in right field and it's doubtful he would demand more than two years. Atlanta could probably get him for $3-4 million also. Winn also gives Atlanta leverage in 2011 on what to do with Matt Diaz and his arbitration case.
3. Give Jason Heyward an extended look in spring training. Heyward is the #1 hitting prospect in baseball and deserves a shot to make the team. If he does make it he would form the left-handed side of a platoon with Winn/Diaz in the outfield and give the team added depth when Guerrero goes down.
If these moves are successful here's what Atlanta's batting lineup would look like in 2010:
1. Nate McLouth cf
2. Martin Prado 2b
3. Chipper Jones 3b
4. Vladimir Guerrero 1b
5. Brian McCann c
6. Yunel Escobar ss
7. Randy Winn rf
8. Matt Diaz lf