Source: The Braves don't want Damon; may start the season with Heyward on the big club

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If there was any shred of hope in the Damon-Boras camp that the Braves may pick up Johnny Damon, consider it gone.

A team source tells me that the Braves discussed Damon recently, and the clear sense of the room was that (a) his arm just won’t play in the Turner Field outfield; (b) he’s just not versatile enough to move around, and the Braves want to be able to move around their outfielders this year; and (c) he’s going to want too much money.

On this last point, Braves brass thinks that Damon is going to go for $4-5 million, probably to the Athletics, and they’re not at all inclined to pay that price for him.  They’d reconsider if he went cheaper, but they just don’t care enough for him to think about making a bid.

And one last bit making Damon less necessary in the team’s eyes:  while everyone — myself included — assumes that the Braves are going to keep Jason Heyward down on the farm until Mother’s Day to keep his service time from running, the Braves are in no way predisposed to do this. To the contrary, they would love to break camp with him, and are taking a “it’s his job to lose” approach this spring.

Overall, the front office is quite optimistic about the team’s chances this year. More so than they’ll let on publicly for risk of creating unrealistic expectations. Whatever the case, I think the takeaway here is that it may be best to view whatever the team does this year as an act being taken by people who think that the Braves will be in the playoffs.

Report: Giants showed some interest in Phillies’ Maikel Franco at Winter Meetings

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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that the Giants were “sniffing around” on Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco at the recently completed Winter Meetings.

Franco, 25, would be a nice buy-low candidate for the Giants, who don’t have a reliable third baseman yet. Currently, Pablo Sandoval would get the lion’s share of starts at the hot corner. Franco was a consensus top-100 prospect going into the 2014 and ’15 seasons, but hasn’t lived up to the hype over the last two seasons. In 2017, he hit .230/.281/.409 with 24 home runs and 76 RBI in 623 plate appearances.

Moving Franco wouldn’t necessarily solve any problems for the Phillies. After signing first baseman Carlos Santana, Rhys Hoskins is expected to play in the outfield full-time. As a result, the Phillies have too many outfielders with Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams, and Aaron Altherr. Technically, the Phillies could move Santana to third base as he has experience there, but he hasn’t played the hot corner since 2014.

Franco is arbitration eligible over the next four seasons, which might be the most attractive thing about him to other teams.