Braves GM: We’re set in the infield

Braves third baseman Johan Camargo (17) reacts after striking out in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during Game One of the NLDS Thursday, October 4, 2018, in Los Angeles, Ca. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

The Braves are happy with their current infield and expect to return the same starting group in 2019, general manager Alex Anthopoulos confirmed Tuesday.

Speaking with reporters at the general manager meetings, Anthopolous was asked about the possibility of adding free-agent third baseman Josh Donaldson, whom he had in Toronto. He acknowledged a valued relationship with Donaldson but didn’t express interest in adding the former MVP.

Anthopoulos then went a step further, confirming the organization is content with its current infield which includes Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson and Johan Camargo.

“The one thing I can say is, I feel like we’re set in the infield,” he said. “Camargo had an amazing year for us. Switch-hitter, plus defense, good bat. Second half he really emerged. A lot of our hitters didn’t hit well in the playoffs.”

Camargo did develop, even providing 19 homers to go with steady defense. The organization has third base prospect Austin Riley – a potential 30-homer bat - on the cusp as well. A player such as Donaldson made little sense on the surface unless the idea was to immediately shift Camargo into a super utility role.

Swanson’s bat needs to make strides, but the team loves his defense and intangibles. Albies was an All-Star and, despite the second-half struggles, is locked in at second. Freeman, of course, is a perennial MVP candidate.

The Braves were previously linked to star free agent Manny Machado, but that was always an unlikelihood. Anthopoulos has money and prospects to invest in improvements, but to do so in the infield would be neglecting more important areas. Machado’s likely historic deal isn’t how Anthopoulos will operate.

“We don’t view the infield as an area of need,” he said. “We do need a corner outfielder. We do need somebody else to catch with (Tyler) Flowers. If other opportunities present themselves, rotation, bullpen, we’ll look at that.”

Anthopoulos again said the team is open to re-signing Nick Markakis and Kurt Suzuki to fill their two needs, though it’s obvious they’re exploring alternatives first. They’re also hopeful of upgrading the bench, perhaps adding another versatile player in the Charlie Culberson-mold or a bat with some power.

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