Atlanta Braves Protected Draft Pick Helps in Free Agency


As the Atlanta Braves eye the 2015-16 offseason, fans remain eager to see what management will do in what is the phase of the rebuild where John Hart and John Coppolella look to add, rather than subtract.

-= Related: Atlanta Braves Position Profile: First Base =-

One of the biggest question marks on the roster is catcher, and as many a sportswriter has noted, Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will be an intriguing option. He has ties to the Atlanta area from his days as a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket, and his family resides across the border in South Carolina. Obviously the Atlanta Braves are not the only team who will vie for the catcher’s services,  should they choose to engage in a pursuit of Wieters, and any significant contract offer will likely knock them out of the running.

But then this happened:

While Wieters is almost guaranteed to decline this offer, it will hurt him in free agency as any team looking to sign him would therefore lose their first pick in the 2016 Draft. However, after the Houston Astros 2014 draft debacle, the top ten picks in the draft became protected, meaning that when signing a player who turned down a qualifying offer, any team with a bottom ten record from the previous season would instead lose their second highest pick in the draft.

As Atlanta Braves fans are painfully aware, Atlanta had a bottom ten record. Next year’s draft order will look like this:

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1. Phillies 63-99
2. Reds 64-98
3. Braves 67-95
4. Rockies 68-94
5. Brewers 68-94
6. Athletics 68-94
7. Marlins 71-91
8. Padres 74-88
9. Tigers 74-88
10. White Sox 76-86

Of those teams, the only ones who are in potential need of catching AND could be interested in signing a veteran receiver are the Braves, the A’s, and the Marlins, though the Atlanta Braves definitely demonstrate the most glaring need for such services.

This will give the Atlanta Braves a distinct advantage when negotiating for Wieters as most other clubs would forfeit a first round pick. In addition to their second round pick, the Braves also have a competitive balance pick between the first and second rounds which they received from the Marlins. That means in the first two rounds, the Braves have three picks, with the first one being protected.

Next: Cameron Maybin: Atlanta Braves Starting CF in 2016?

While the Braves may still elect to go another direction rather than go with Wieters, the situation they find themselves in will allow them the same luxuries when looking at other players receiving qualifying offers. Because of mid-season trades involving players like Johnny Cueto, David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, and Mike Leake this season, they are ineligible for QOs.  Other players such as Justin Upton and Jason Heyward are likely to attract them. Ultimately, the Johns at the Atlanta Braves helm may decide they are not far enough along in the rebuild to sacrifice any of their top picks, especially since the franchise is not accustomed to picks this high in the past. But either way, it is worth keeping in mind as the market takes shape.