Cost of compensatory pick won’t stop Braves from pursuing players who received qualifying offers

A.J. Pollock is among the seven players who received a $17.9 million qualifying offer, which could cost the team that signs him a compensatory draft pick.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS — As the Braves seek to fill their stated needs this winter, some free-agent pursuits will come with them the reminder of the limitations the organization has on acquiring young talent.

The sanctions that prohibit Atlanta from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period and include reduced pool money for 2020-21 put an even bigger value on draft picks, a consideration as the Braves look to free agents who received qualifying offers and could cost the organization a pick.

“We don’t have an issue with the draft pick,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos said during his availability at MLB Winter Meetings. We talk about it, we’ll put the value into an offer, but it wouldn’t stop us.”

There were seven players extended the $17.9 million qualifying offer, among them Patrick Corbin — who has signed with the Nationals — and three players who at one time or another have either been linked to the Braves: starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel and reliever Craig Kimbrel, and another that could fit team’s outfield need, A.J. Pollock.

If any were to get a contract of at least $50M, the team that extended the qualifying offer would have to get a compensatory pick between first round and Competitive Balance Round A, and if less than $50, comes after Competitive Balance Round B, after the second round.

While Keuchel’s name was brought up in at least one rumor here at Winter Meetings, the Braves aren’t believed to be chasing the former American League Cy Young winner, who has a market value of $22.3 million per season, per Spotrac. Likewise, Kimbel, Atlanta’s all-time saves leader, is likely priced out of retuning with an expected $16.5 million average salary and he’s reportedly seeking a six-year deal.

Pollock, who hasn’t played in more than 113 games since 2015 due to injuries, has a market value of $14.6 million, could be a fit for the Braves’ need in the outfield.

He has not be specifically linked to the Braves, though he’s carried a 110 wRC+ last year, and been as high as a 6.8 fWAR player in that aforementioned ’15 season.

Regardless as to whether the Braves enter the market on any of those free agents, Anthopoulos’ mindset does offer an idea of how the club weighs the cost of a pick into the equation.

“We’re always mindful of the draft pick and the draft dollars associated with it,” the GM said, “but if you’re looking at someone you’re going to sign for multi years … trade deadline, if you get someone with some control, you’re probably giving up a pretty good player if you’re getting someone with beyond one year of control or two months as a rental.”

Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney and Facebook. His books, ‘Tales from the Atlanta Braves Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Braves Stories Ever Told,’ and ‘The Heisman Trophy: The Story of an American Icon and Its Winners.’ are now available.