Do they believe in themselves or are they putting a bandaid on a hole in the Hoover Dam just for kicks?
Meanwhile … what are the New York Yankees?!
Are they the consensus AL favorite for the World Series? Are they destined to remain unlucky forever, always placing men on base but never sending them home? After 90 games, are the advanced stats simply telling a story we’d rather read, instead of indicating a bounce back that’s yet to come?
In short, how do both the Braves and Yankees fix this? Whatever happens this year, neither is punting 2022.
Both teams are in a remarkably similar place — and, frankly, have been for decades. By and large, they bring superior talent to the table every year. They win large chunks of games, often in a row. When October arrives, they play a round or two before giving way to the deeper teams or the squads that got that extra, delightful bounce.
The 2021 versions of both teams have robust farm systems below the surface (and the Yankees’ farm, in particular, has shone this year in sometimes unexpected ways). They have established veteran stars, as well as still-pre-prime youngsters under contract for a long, long time (Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies deal remains an all-time steal).
The main differences? The Braves, though they begin the second half under .500, play in a more winnable division, led by the 60-percent-there Mets. The Yankees are nearly buried in the AL East, playing for the Wild Card despite their superior record to Atlanta. Additionally, the Braves have a major star hitting free agency this winter in Freddie Freeman as well as a centerpiece rehabbing from a surgical procedure (Ronald Acuña Jr., sadly), two caveats that don’t apply to the Yanks’ roster.
These three trades, ranging from fanciful to realistic, could address both teams’ needs and help next year’s reload.
Could the Braves and Yankees engage in these 3 hybrid trades?
3. The Extreme Longshot: Freddie Freeman for Luke Voit + Prospects
Freddie Freeman, an All-Star left-handed bat and still just 31, could be a monstrous solution to New York’s unbalanced lineup.
Yes, this would be another long-term, high-dollar extension in the making. The Yankees would never even consider this without an extension pledge. But boy, would it be a beautiful fit.
This exceedingly unlikely outcome would doubtlessly inject life into the Yanks’ future, and with six or seven additional years baked in, the package heading to Atlanta would not underwhelm. Luke Voit is no slouch, leading the American League in home runs in 2020, still just 30, and under control through 2024. In terms of prospects added, potentially Estevan Florial, Josh Smith and Luis Medina could polish off the package (with a lottery ticket thrown in as well)?
Your trade proposal sucks, my trade proposal sucks, we know this. But at least this one is almost laughing at itself as it gets written.
Freeman will be a Brave for life, in all likelihood, but he’d also be a generational and underrated star with three or four prime years left who could balance the Yankees’ lineup and take full advantage of the short porch in this “fantasy league” scenario. Coming off an MVP win, this is the worst season he’s posted since 2012, and he still sports a 127 OPS+. His humble nature will be beloved by whatever city he wraps his career in, but he might be the player I’d draft first overall given the chance to add any ideal fit to the Yankees’ roster (Tatis Jr. excepted). His free agency could be a rare opportunity to take advantage of his availability, if Brian Cashman is feeling daring.