The Braves have been shopping first baseman/outfielder Matt Adams to other teams in advance of Friday’s non-tender deadline, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Adams, 29, had a career-best season in 2017 after being traded from St. Louis to Atlanta on May 20. In 367 plate appearances between the Cardinals and Braves, Adams hit .274/.319/.522 with 20 homers, achieving career highs in home runs and OPS.
He received extensive playing time at first base while Freddie Freeman was on the disabled list with a fractured wrist, and when Freeman returned in early July, Adams initially continued to play every day at first while Freeman, the two-time All-Star, was dispatched to third base. Freeman eventually transitioned back to first in early August as Johan Camargo earned everyday playing time at third, but Adams continued to receive frequent at-bats as a left fielder, a move made possible by his commitment to fitness and significant weight loss during the 2016-17 offseason.
Assuming full health in 2018, however, the Braves will have Freeman at first base every day with accomplished veterans Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis and star prospect Ronald Acuna the primary candidates to receive playing time at the corner outfield spots. Thus, there’s not going to be many starting opportunities for Adams unless an injury occurs or Atlanta is able to move Kemp and Markakis, an unlikely move considering that both are on the back end of expensive contracts.
Just over six months ago, Adams only brought back 19-year-old Class A prospect Juan Yepez, who did not rank on either the Braves’ or the Cardinals’ top 30 prospects list as ranked by MLB Pipeline. While the Cardinals were in somewhat of a rush to make a move at the time since they were looking to free up a roster spot, it’s difficult to imagine that Adams’ trade value is going to be tremendously better this offseason, simply because there’s a surplus of solid first basemen around the league right now.
Teams that have question marks at first base or DH and could potentially have interest in Adams include the Indians (who Olney specifically mentioned in his tweet Monday), Rays, Royals, Twins, Astros, Angels, and Rockies.
If Adams isn’t dealt before Friday, it should be interesting to see how the Braves choose to proceed. While Adams had a strong 2017 campaign, he made $2.8 million this past season and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive $4.6 million in 2018. Thus, with Freeman back at first base and a full compliment of corner outfielders, it’s not a slam dunk that the Braves will tender Adams a contract for next season. They don’t have a ton of payroll committed and certainly bring in enough money that they’re not limited the way clubs like the Rays or Athletics are, but simple front office logic dictates that it doesn’t make a ton of sense to pay a veteran a multi-million-dollar salary if he’s rarely going to play.