Should Braves sacrifice defense to keep Matt Adams? Maybe

Braves first baseman Matt Adams hits a two-run home run in the third inning of a game against the Miami Marlins Saturday. (AP photo)

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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Reader Comments 0

31 comments
moboman
moboman

So far this guy is bashing the ball, making nice picks on bad throws from his fielders, and basically keeping us in a lot of games with his production.  This kind of scary bat in a lineup is a luxury we might want to think real hard about keeping.  He's already hit another 3 dingers since I posted below.  How do you let a stick like this go?  Braves have scored a TON of runs in June.  He's a bat MATCHED to this ball park.

BaseballBuff
BaseballBuff

I'm skeptical. First of all, you'd be moving a fine-fielding, all-star 1st baseman to 3rd.  Secondly, Matt Adams is posting career numbers. His career stats do not suggest he can continue hitting like this. If he slumps or otherwise returns to normal before Freddie returns, this talk of moving Freeman to 3rd will be forgotten.

The above having been said, if Adams can continue hitting, and if Freddie has the necessary agility and arm to play 3rd base at a big-league level, two big ifs indeed, then I am all for it.

RogerBurke
RogerBurke

move matt adams to outfield and put markaus to 3rd base i dont think youll lose much in defense and when freddy comes back what a lineup


RogerBurke
RogerBurke

definelty keep adams i dont think freddie will be ready any time soon and when he does its going to take a long time to get his strength back wait and see stiuation.


DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Realistically, the Braves aren't likely to go to the playoffs with anybody in the current starting lineup except perhaps Swanson, Inciarte, and one of the first basemen. I don't see anybody on this team who should be off the market for trade. The Braves need their young pitching to blossom at the MLB level before they focus on molding a playoff roster, and that is still a ways down the road, perhaps years. This is not the time, as a fan, to get emotionally attached to Braves players.

One can apply parallel logic to Adams' situation as for Gattis. He's a moderately productive bat with positional constraints whose value is maximized in the AL.

AudubonPark
AudubonPark

Freeman is an excellent fielder with a strong, accurate arm - see if he would/can play third.   Chipper and Pete Rose were willing to switch positions to help their teams.  That fence in right-center is made for Adams.

WSatterwhite
WSatterwhite

Would it be a viable option to rotate Adams between the corner outfield spots and 1st in an arrangement where everybody basically gets a game off every 4 games?


Game one you have Adams in RF with Markakis on the bench, game two in left with Kemp on the bench and game 3 at 1st with Freeman sitting (leaving Adams on the bench the fourth game). I know players like to play as much as possible but everyone needs rest and this arrangement would also ensure you always have a strong bat off the bench.

Vigilante
Vigilante

Can we help him learn 3B?  

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RonRoberts
RonRoberts

It sucks he's only really suited to play 1B because I'd love to see a 3B hit like he does.  

My point being SOME AL team or contending NL team may see some stout value in him and cough up an MLB-ready or caliber starter for us to contend with in 2018.

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mattjohn
mattjohn

Like the right field idea, and seeing what you can get for Markakis. Am big Markakis fan -- a real pro baseball player and great in club house from what's been said and printed but no power there and Adams can make a difference.  Why not? 

BlawgDawg
BlawgDawg

When Freeman returns, and shows that he can hit as before, send Adams to Gwinnett for a couple weeks and let him play left or right field and see how he does. If he can handle it, pull the trigger on the best deal you can get for Nick, and play Adams in right or in left with Kemp moving to right.

moboman
moboman

He's built like a brick house.  Not fragile.  How many times has Freeman been injured so far?  I would pull the trigger on a GREAT deal for the Braves on either one.  Obviously Freeman would have to fetch someone in the superstar category at a different position.  Adams wouldnt bring as much, but it would have to be a deal for something of true value.  Otherwise, keep them both for now.  The Braves are in the drivers seat on this one.  See who will offer too much to refuse.

ChessMaster
ChessMaster

Freeman hasn't played 3rd in years, and Adams has value as a left handed DH. I just don't see the Braves keeping him.

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Ron Wildman
Ron Wildman

Some players with similar injuries such as Freeman's have never fully recovered to their earlier skills with the bat. Hopefully not the Freeman situation, but it is something for management to consider until proven otherwise.

Beery
Beery

Ask Freeman to move to third. Heck, the move worked for Mr.Jones.

CoronaGT
CoronaGT

@Beery Jones was a shortstop before moving to third; that was a more natural transition.  He was also not bad at left field where he played for 2 years when the Braves re-acquired Vinny Castilla.

pride
pride

Here's an idea - keep the valuable players- he is valuable. Duh.

BANSHEE296402
BANSHEE296402

Exactly why Coppy gets big money, because this decision could loom for a few years.  What if Freddie's injury slows his pace for not only the rest of this year but next as well?  IF Kakkis is gone after this year anyhow, we need Adams pop in the lineup for the next few years.  Sure his production will slip, but likely so will Freddies, Kemps, etc... Rather trade Nick now over Adams

whydoyouwannaknow
whydoyouwannaknow

Adams has been a pleasant surprise, to say the least. He's helped the Braves manage Freeman's loss without taking a nose dive, as many of us feared. That said, he was never going to be in the Braves long term plans. He's a 1B/DH type. Should the Braves give him a shot at another position? Only if there aren't ANY attractive offers before the deadline, and I think there will be. But defensively, he's likely slower than Kemp in left, and undoubtedly a minus in right compared to Markakis (somebody said the former Gold Glove winner is an "average" fielder? Please.) I doubt he's got the range and agility to play third either, so where do you put him? He's shown he needs to and is capable of playing every day, but keep him over Freddy, who's blossoming into a superstar? I'd hate to see Adams go, but he was just a summer rental.

jmccoy1252
jmccoy1252

See what offers are out there. To expect him to continue at his present pace is not realistic. If you trade Markakis, who plays RF, Kemp? Whatever you get in exchange for Adams is going to heavily outweigh what you gave up. His value will not be any higher than what it is now.

DNorth
DNorth

Stick with the current approach, trade him ... I love the way he's playing, but he's not an outfielder, Freeman is the player of the future and Adams may never have more value than he does right now.  

Atl Sports fan1
Atl Sports fan1

@DNorth If you trade Adams it has to be for a position of need at the major league level.  If not I would keep him for the remainder of this season and give him some time in the OF (he says he can play it if given a chance) and make Kakes the odd man out.  Kakes has no power and his defense is average so I don't know how much we would lose defensively.  

Lakerman
Lakerman

I'm with Tyger... See how he does at third base when Freeman comes back. That's especially true with Garcia on the shelf for two months.