The Braves have just announced that they agreed to a contract extension through 2014 with general manager Frank Wren.
Not surprising. And, even though I snark at him sometimes, not a bad move. Wren doesn’t always hit, but he’s hit more than he’s missed lately, and the player development machine — pitchers mostly, but some good position players like Jason Heyward, Freddie Freemen and Andrelton Simmons — he has kept operation in good order. His non-move on the Ryan Dempster deal was a good one. He hasn’t done harm, and that’s probably the most important thing.
And really, given that the fundamental dynamic of running the Atlanta Braves involves dealing with the iron-clad budget given to the team by their corporate overlords at Liberty Media, keeping a guy who is used to that is probably a good move.
Wren’s biggest immediate challenge: filling holes at third base — and the middle of the lineup, really — with the retirement of Chipper Jones and center field with the presumed departure of free agent Michael Bourn. He now has a couple years more breathing room in which to do it.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.