Atlanta Braves: Dissecting Team Needs for 2016

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Oct 2, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Cameron Maybin (25) makes a diving catch against the St. Louis Cardinals during the sixth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports


In 2015, the Atlanta Braves returned no outfielder from the previous season. Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and Melvin Upton all found new homes this offseason, with the Upton brothers being relocated to San Diego and Heyward departing to St. Louis. Thus, the Braves needed to fill the voids left from trading all of their starting outfielders.

-= Related: Cameron Maybin: Buy Low, Sell High? =-

The Atlanta Braves signed Nick Markakis in the offseason to replace the departed Jason Heyward, a downgrade in nearly every aspect of the game, but Markakis filled in admirably in his first season with the Braves. In addition to Markakis, the Braves traded for Cameron Maybin. Maybin seemed poised for a breakout 2015 season, starting the year on an absolute tear.

Maybin heard murmurs of a potential trade involving him around the trade deadline this season, but nothing came about and he remained with the Atlanta Braves. Since the deadline, Maybin fell back to earth and regressed back to his normal numbers; although, he did set career highs in most counting stat categories.

Both Nick Markakis and Cameron Maybin love being in Atlanta, but could one or both be on the way out this offseason? Jason Heyward and Justin Upton are back on the free agent market and would represent upgrades in the outfield; moreover, the Braves need more power in their lineup. Markakis’ power escaped him this season, regressing for 14 home runs to a pitiful three.

Also, with Markakis in his age 31 season, he does not fit the mold that John Hart has for the Atlanta Braves. Hart wants young talent that the organization can groom to lift the Braves to contender status; thus, Markakis might find his tenure in Atlanta short-lived. The Baltimore Orioles love Nick Markakis and could easily re-acquire the outfielder. Buck Showalter sees Markakis as his son and may push for a deal there.

As for Maybin, he presents the tools that a center fielder needs, a little bit of pop, good speed, and a plus glove. While Cameron Maybin’s second-half numbers are not stellar, the Braves acquired him for a bargain, so they may let him try to work out the kinks with the team. He hit atop the order for most of the season, and the Atlanta Braves do not have another option for the top of the lineup, leaving Maybin as a likely candidate to stay in Atlanta.

Left field is the position in question, with numerous solutions out there. One, if Adonis Garcia wins the starting third base job, the Atlanta Braves push Hector Olivera out to left field. Another, the Braves sign an apt right fielder, pushing Markakis to left field. Or third, the team actively pursues a power-bat that shores up their lineup (i.e. Justin Upton via free agency or another outfielder via trade).

One thing is for sure: the Atlanta Braves are making moves this offseason. Whether it is one or multiple moves, gauging on last season, expect Hart and Coppolella to remain vigilant in their discussion. The Braves expect to contend by 2017, leaving a great deal of work ahead of them this offseason.

Next: Atlanta Braves Starters End Strong, Bring Optimism for 2016

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