Atlanta Braves Interested in Cespedes?

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest offseason surprises so far is that big name sluggers Chris Davis, Justin Upton, and Yoenis Cespedes have yet to sign with a new team. We are now in mid January, and teams who may not be considered big contenders could be beginning to take advantage of big names still on the market. We saw the Cleveland Indians do that back in the offseason of 2012-13, when they signed Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn for much cheaper than the baseball world thought they would get. Granted, those contracts did not work out well for either side involved, but it is an example of how a lingering market makes players more affordable for small market teams. The Braves are not necessarily a small market team, but they do seem to be a team in a complete rebuild, and are not expected to contend for a few years. So why the interest in a 30 year old outfielder? Not only are they viewed as a team who may not contend for 2-6 years, do they really want to sign him for even 4-5 years? Can they even afford a contract like that? My answer, is that the Atlanta Braves are not the terrible bottom of the league team that everybody thinks they are, and GM John Hart has never been one to roll over and play dead. Also take into consideration that the Braves are getting a new stadium in 2017, and having a guy like Cespedes on the roster when moving into a new stadium would be absolutely huge. Should the Braves sign Cespedes, their lineup would look something like this:

1 Ender Inciarte CF

2 Nick Markakis RF

3 Freddie Freeman 1B

4 Yoenis Cespedes LF

5 Adonis Garcia 3B

6 Erick Aybar SS

7 Jace Peterson 2B

8 A.J. Pierzynski C

9 Pitcher

There is absolutely no reason to believe you can't contend with a lineup like that. My favorite part about it is Markakis, Freeman, Cespedes, and Garcia all batting back to back. Everybody knows what the first three can do, and for those of you unfamiliar with Garcia, all he did in his debut last year was hit .277 with 12 doubles, 10 homeruns, and 26 RBI in 58 games. The only two things that could keep Atlanta from contending are the pitching, and the fact that they are in the N.L. East. But the catch with the pitching problem, is that the Braves have a multitude of top pitching prospects who are knocking on the door. While having a pitching staff made up of rookies is not ideal, nor is it what I'm proposing, it is withing the realm of possibility the Braves pitching staff could have several breakout stars in 2016. Am I saying signing Cespedes puts the Braves in the postseason? In that division, no. Am I saying it would push them into contention? Absolutely. That being said, even without Cespedes I do not think the Braves are the pushover everybody believes them to be. You want a team to look out for and that will turn some heads in 2016? It's the Atlanta Braves. Even if the Braves were to finish .500 or a few games below, they are going to play much better than expected and surprise some people. The Atlanta Braves are just simply not the cellar team that everybody believes them to be, and signing Yoenis Cespedes would give them an incredible boost.