The Atlanta Braves are best off going outside the organization if they are to adequately replace Freddie Freeman. But what if they don’t?
Oakland A’s first baseman Matt Olson makes the most sense as a Freddie Freeman replacement — he’s from the area and a perennial All-Star waiting to happen at a younger age. But Olson is sure to have plenty of suitors once the MLB lockout ends. The Braves could miss out.
Then, Atlanta would surely look to free agency, hoping to rope in Anthony Rizzo or another veteran. Looking in-house does not appear to be a viable option.
But let’s play devil’s advocate. Who would play first base for the Braves if they lost Freeman, and weren’t allowed to bring in an option from outside the organization?
Freddie Freeman free agency: Braves best in-house replacements
ESPN lists Orlando Arcia as the Braves current starting first baseman. The team’s official website conveniently skips over the position entirely. That’s suboptimal, but where else could the Braves turn?
Austin Riley has played a total of 20 games at first base in his career, 10 of which came last season with Freeman out. If the Braves are smart, they would start preparing Riley as an everyday first baseman. Arcia doesn’t have much experience at first. Neither does catcher Travis d’Arnaud or many of their top prospects.
The fact of the matter is, the Braves don’t have many options better than paying Freeman his worth, which makes their hesitancy to do so all the more confusing.
If Freeman were to leave, the Braves would immediately jump into heavy trade talks for Olson, or sign a player like Rizzo via free agency. There is no time to waste once the lockout ends, and Plan B is not on the roster as currently constructed.