It's a new era for the Atlanta Braves after massive changes in the front office after the fallout from the MLB's investigation into their international signing practices, but their plan to begin contending in 2018 remains on schedule. With Alex Anthopoulos as their new GM, don't be surprised if Atlanta is aggressive on the free agent and trade markets.
The Braves don't exactly need to make wholesale upgrades at every position player spot, but third base is one area they must address this winter. Johan Camargo and Rio Ruiz are possible options for them at the moment, but neither provide an impact bat that could pair with Freddie Freeman and solidify the middle of the lineup.
With that in mind, here are three players the Braves should target this offseason to improve at the hot corner.
3. Mike Moustakas
If Atlanta is feeling frisky and want to be spend money on the free agent market, Mike Moustakas is the guy they should target. He's coming off a year where he had career-highs in home runs (38), RBI (85), slugging percentage (.521) and OPS (.835), and he's entering the prime of his career and could do big things in a hitter's park. The Braves are expected to expand their payroll, though just how much is the big question. Moustakas is in for a nice payday, but it's not a guarantee he'd garner a $100 million deal, putting the Braves in play for his services.
2. Todd Frazier
One of Atlanta's top prospects is third baseman Austin Riley, but he's a couple years away from making his big league debut. If they feel like he's the future at the hot corner, however, it's possible they look for a veteran on a shorter deal in the meantime. Enter Todd Frazier. The 31-year-old is coming his fourth straight season where he belted at least 27 home runs, and it's possible the Braves could sign him on a two-year deal at a reasonable price.
1. Josh Donaldson
If the Braves want to make a big splash this winter, acquiring former AL MVP Josh Donaldson would do just that and make them instant contenders in 2018. Anthopoulos was the GM who brought Donaldson to Toronto, so there is history and plenty of interest there.
Even though he'll be a free agent after the season, which is certainly risky because it could be a one-year rental, Donaldson is from Braves Country and went to college at Auburn, making it reasonable to think he could sign an extension with Atlanta after the season. Could you imagine a 3-4 combo of Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson?