The Braves have now made two offseason signings, and it’s clear they’re gearing up for the Dodgers in 2021.
For the most part, it’s been an inactive offseason, with the exception of some movement from the Atlanta Braves, who blew a 3-1 lead to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. And with their latest transaction, it’s clear the Braves have the Dodgers in their crosshairs after that disappointing playoff exit.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos signed Charlie Morton to a one-year, $15 million contract to bring the pairing full circle (Morton began his career in Atlanta back in 2008 before being traded to the Pirates). Earlier in the offseason, the Braves also signed Drew Smyly to a two-year deal, further beefing up their pitching staff, which definitely lacked depth in a seven-game series (though that was mostly due to Mike Soroka’s absence).
Nonetheless, the Dodgers should view this as an arms race now that the Braves have chosen to strike during a time when every other MLB team is exercising financial restraint.
The Braves still have to figure out whether or not if they’ll re-sign Marcell Ozuna or find a formidable replacement, but the fact they wasted no time bolstering their biggest weakness from this past season shows they’re out for revenge in 2021.
At the very least, they have a deep rotation for the regular season in which a number of guys can get starts and then bounce back and forth between the bullpen. If not, they’ll have depth in the event injuries strike again. And most importantly, they’ll be able to field a scary four-man rotation for the playoffs and then have ample arms ready to give them length out of the bullpen.
It no doubt helps that they now have Morton on their side, who is nails in elimination games. Though the stat heads have pointed to his velocity decrease, the right-hander still has invaluable experience on the big stage and his movement remains a major problem for opposing hitters.
Your move, Dodgers. Though this isn’t anything to be overly concerned about — after all, LA is the reigning World Series champs — Andrew Friedman can’t let the Braves be the talk of the offseason for long.