While the Twins had un unexpectedly great October, the Atlanta Braves crashed and burned out of the postseason in the NLDS. It was an embarassing collapse, as a team that won over 100-games last year was so bad when it counted that a brief conversation about the fairness of the playoff format was raised.
That’s a loser’s way of approaching what happened, and the Braves have a much easier way to avoid another potential disaster. Atlanta has superstars all over the lineup, which is why it’s collapse was so shocking. Adding Kepler isn’t some splashy move that takes them from one place to the next, but it does add a reliable hitter and solid defensive option to the outfield.
Braves expert Fred Owens outlined the idea of Atlanta adding Kepler, noting that he brings exactly what the team needs in terms and won’t be relied on to do more than he can.
“The Atlanta Braves don’t need a superstar left fielder. The club already has stars all over the diamond. Putting a Gold-Glove caliber defender in left who showed no significant L/R this year, costs only $1M more than Rosario, swings from the left side, and hits 20 homers a year is fine,” Owen’s wrote.
Eddie Rosario — another former Twins player the Braves used effectively — is a free agent and replacing him with Kepler is a low cost option with high upside potential. Kepler’s status as a rental would be fully realized with the Braves, who wouldn’t need to acquire him with the intention of making him part of the long-term plan, but could end up going down that road based on what happened.
Atlanta has a stacked outfield, with Ronald Acuna Jr., Michael Harris III, and Vaughn Grissom all locked in as key pieces of the core moving forward. Kepler would provide depth at all three positions, as well as the option to slide into the lineup as DH on any given day.
As could be the case if Kepler lands in the Bronx and has a great season, it might not take long for Twins fans to feel some regret about trading him as he contributes to a contending team in Atlanta.