If Opening Day were tomorrow, it seems Johan Camargo would be the starting third baseman. The Braves’ writers have both praised his potential ability to handle a full-time spot and his versatility. If I had to guess, I would think they would want to upgrade third base and use Camargo in a utility role. The best potential options:
Free Agents Todd Frazier – He would provide a level of consistency at the position as he’s averaged a 3.4 fWAR these past 6 seasons. He’s 31, and he’s coming off a .213/.344/.428 season where he maintained his average defense and produced 3 fWAR. He’s rightly pursuing a multi-year deal, and he should probably get it, but if he slides into a 2-year commitment or even a pillow contract, the Braves might be able to afford him.
Eduardo Nunez – A 2+ fWAR player these last two years, he’d be priceless the type you wouldn’t overpay for, keep the commitment short, and would fill the position adequately. He rode a strong BABIP to a .313/.341/.460 line last year along with 24 stolen bases. He’s played for the Yankees, Twins, and Giants, and if he’s willing to come to the NL East, he could be used.
Neil Walker – Another consistent, safe option who may decide to settle for a shorter commitment. He’s only played second base consistently for his career, but as the market continues to move slowly, players like him may be open to a short-term position change to maximize their earnings. Another player with a consistently above average career (2.9 fWAR the past 4 years), he contributed a .265/.362/.439 line last year.
Trades Eugenio Suarez – Coming off a 4.1 fWAR year, the rebuilding Reds might be looking to move him once the free agent market crystalizes. He’s under club control and would be arbitration eligible after this year, so there’s some long-term value to him for the Braves. I doubt, though, the Braves value would him as a top third baseman, so he might be a difficult player to value.
Josh Donaldson – Certainly worth listing considering the need and the Braves’ ability to offer what is necessary to get him, but he’ll be owed close to $20M next year and the Braves almost certainly don’t have it in the budget. Along with that, he’s only under contract for 2018. But, hey, Alex Anthapolous has made plenty of big trades, so it might not be fair to put anything past him.
The difference between Johan Camargo and who they could acquire to play third base full-time may not be great, but the difference between Johan Camargo and the bench player he would replace is a big difference. One would have to assume third base will work itself out in the next couple weeks.