The Atlanta Braves just announced a new contract for their manager: Brian Snitker, who was initially named interim manager in 2016 and then was given a one-year deal plus a team option when he was made permanent manager in October of that year, is now signed for two more seasons with a team option for 2021.
In 2018 Snitker, 63, took a Braves team that was widely expected to be at least a year away from contention to a 90-72 record and an NL East title. Snitker has been in the Braves organization in some role or another for over 40 years and is well-respected within the current big league clubhouse. As such, his extension was a foregone conclusion even if many originally expected him to be a caretaker manager until the team got into serious contention.
UPDATE: While Snitker was extended, the Braves have fired pitching coach Chuck Hernandez.
Hernandez, a long-time big league and minor league pitching coach, was hired by the Braves in November 2015 as Minor League pitching coordinator and was named the pitching coach for the Braves following the conclusion of the 2016 season. His dismissal this year is likely a product of a Braves staff that issued the second-most walks in the majors this season and allowed 27 walks and 8 homers in four games against the Dodgers in the NLDS.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.