The future is bright for the Atlanta Braves, and this offseason should be a busy one for them. It's general manager Alex Anthopoulos's first real offseason, and with the financial freedom the team is getting combined with its prospect capital, expect a busy and aggressive winter.
So, how far will the team be willing to go to sign a Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, both of whom would help take the 2018 NL East champs to new heights? With big-market teams capable of outbidding Atlanta, it may be smarter to make other arrangements-- but the Braves should avoid this trio of potential pitfalls.
3. Josh Donaldson
Josh Donaldson's walk year didn't go as planned, as he dealt with injuries all season and never got back to being close to the MVP he was a few short years ago up in Toronto. However, he'll still be a commodity that teams will look at this winter, and the Braves should do their best to stay away. The 32-year-old has been on the decline over the last two years, and with Johan Camargo and top prospect Austin Riley in the mix for next year on the hot corner, the Braves shouldn't even look at a third base replacement (unless a stunning trade for Nolan Arenado falls out of the sky).
2. Nick Markakis
Nick Markakis is a fan favorite and made his first All-Star team at the age of 34 after putting together his best year since 2008, slashing .297/.366/.440 with 14 home runs and 93 RBI for Atlanta. The team would run that back in a heartbeat next season, but he's a free agent and will surely be looking to parlay his renaissance into a multi-year deal. If wants to come back to the Braves on a one-year contract, the team should make it happen, as it would be low-risk no matter what his production ends up being. His age is a factor, and the team needs to protect itself in case Markakis finally starts breaking down.
1. Craig Kimbrel
I can feel the scorn from Braves Country already. Craig Kimbrel is the greatest closer that ever came through Atlanta, and with the need for bullpen help and the fact he's a free agent, a return feels like a poetic possibility.
However, Kimbrel will likely be looking for the richest closer contract in MLB history, and while the Braves could make that happen if they were willing to go all in, it just isn't a smart decision. Yes, Kimbrel saved over 40 games once again and his strikeout rate is still through the roof (13.9 per nine innings), but his walks were way up this year (4.5 per nine), which is exactly what the Braves bullpen needs to avoid. For what it'll cost to bring him back, it just isn't worth it.