When the Braves made the trade for Matt Adams, it was logical to assume he would be a nice fill-in at first base until Freddie Freeman returned from a fractured wrist. But something unexpected happen: Adams has been far greater than a nice fill-in.
After homering (again) and adding a run-scoring single Monday night against San Francisco, Adams was batting .306 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs in 28 games. He has a slugging percentage of .658 and an OPS of 1.018.
The only player on the roster who ranks ahead of him in slugging percentage and OPS is the one he replaced — Freeman.
So now imagine this: a batting order stacked with Freeman, Adams and Matt Kemp.
This is almost certainly a lost season, and this certainly was not the Braves’ plan. But have we reached the point with Adams where the Braves should seriously consider NOT trading him?
This will be a big decision as the team nears the non-waiver trade deadline. This issue has been debated by fans for weeks. It just took me a while to be convinced that keeping Adams might be the way to go. Some fans have suggested the Braves should consider trading Freeman and keeping Adams at first base. Wrong. A guy goes on the disabled list and suddenly everybody forgets that he was hitting .341 with a 1.209 OPS when he left.
We call this: fan amnesia.
But Adams’ power and production makes one wonder whether the Braves should sacrifice something defensively and force the issue in the outfield. It’s no secret the organization doesn’t have a lot of power coming up. It also has become clear SunTrust Park is going to be a hitters-friendly park, beyond what anybody anticipated.
As pitcher R.A. Dickey said to our David O’Brien after Monday’s game, “We all miss Freddie, but this guy’s been everything — more than anything that we could have probably hoped for in the moment. I’m hoping we can find a spot for him in a few weeks when Freddie comes back somehow.”
St. Louis tried playing Adams for six games in left field, but apparently wasn’t convinced he would develop into a viable option, otherwise they would have kept him. Adams is best as a first baseman or a designated hitter. The Cardinals couldn’t justify his $2.8 million salary this season, nor the significant raise he’ll probably get in his final year of arbitration (before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2019).
But depending on the offers they get, the Braves should consider finding another position for Adams. Would it better to keep Adams and trade right fielder Nick Markakis? Maybe. With the need for power and the fact the Braves needing to score a lot of runs to compensate for the pitching staff, it might be the way to go.
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