I was not happy when I went online and found out that the Atlanta Braves had announced that they had signed John Hart to a three-year contract as President of Baseball Operation. Before coming to Atlanta, he was the General Manager of, first, Cleveland, and then, Texas.
Hart is no slouch and it’s hard to predict how he will begin the rebuilding of the Braves. He’s been associated with them since the end of the 2013 season as a special assistant to the Braves owner, so you have to assume he’s up to speed with what’s needed in Atlanta.
(remember.. he already is responsible for negotiating long term contracts for Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Craig Kimbrel, and Julio Teheran)
You also have to assume he has the power to get things done here. The 2014 Braves had some serious production problems, especially B.J. Upton (.208). who has three years left on his contract ($15.05mil-2015, $16.05mil-2016, $17.05mil-2017).
In addition, will Hart try to move RF Jason Heyward after a sub-par season (11-HR, .271). Heyward has one year left on his contract.
I’m sure Hart could find a home for Heyward, if he wants to, but he’s stuck with the Upton deal. Better him than Alderson.
Is there a chance for a Mets-Braves deal this off-season? I don’t think so, but anything can happen, right?
And where will Hart look to build? Well, a statement he made at his press conference says a lot:
"I think trade is the last piece you want to look at if you can't find what you're looking for in Free Agency"
Hart is going to have to rebuild the affiliates as well. Christian Bethancourt looks to take over the full time catcher role coming out of spring training, but then things get a little fuzzy for Hart.
Look for the Mets to overtake the Braves in 2015… probably also 2016… but then the Hart effect could kick in.