It's not hard to see from my past few posts that I think the Braves need another outfielder. I'm not a fan of throwing Jason Heyward into the fire: he's still very young, he's not guaranteed to produce immediately, and his development could certainly be adversely affected by a premature introduction to the big leagues. What's more, two months without Heyward could be worth perhaps $20 million down the road, if Heyward is as good as advertised. The Braves gain an entire extra year of control over Heyward by letting him play at Gwinnett until June or so, and his first free agent year (if he becomes a star) should easily surpass a $20 million value. I don't view Melky Cabrera and his career .716 OPS as a starter. I think Jordan Schafer absolutely, unequivocally, needs more time in the minors. So that leaves you with Diaz in one corner (a risk in and of itself), plus a collection of risky picks in the other corner. So what's to be done?
Well, Johnny Damon is still out there, and David O'Brien dispelled a rumor that he was considering retirement. We've talked a lot about Damon here, so I won't rehash his merits as I see them. But with a $4-5 million price tag (and it's hard to envision him signing for more than that), it's quite difficult to argue that he wouldn't be a bargain. There's one other name emerging on the rumor mill as well, that might bear worth considering for the Braves: Jim Edmonds. I was a huge proponent of signing Edmonds last winter, and I'm back on the bandwagon again, now that Edmonds says he wants to make a comeback, and that he's got several teams interested. Edmonds hit .250/.362/.521 against right-handed pitching in 2008, and while he's probably not a true center fielder anymore, he was always a very strong defender and likely could be just fine in a corner, even at age 40. And he's willing to play for the league minimum. The Braves have plenty of dead space on their roster (Stephen Marek, Todd Redmond, Brooks Conrad, et al), so the 40-man roster spot is not a big deal for the Braves. What does it hurt to bring him to camp and see if he can't be a quality platoon partner for Matt Diaz? And Edmonds is no Johnny Damon in terms of name recognition; whereas a struggling Damon might still block Jason Heyward, a struggling Edmonds almost certainly wouldn't. What could it hurt?