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The Daily Chop: Fifth starter competition, bench options and more

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Can Felix Hernandez earn his way onto Atlanta’s Opening Day roster?

Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

We are just a little over two weeks away from Braves pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training and one of the interesting storylines to look for in camp with be the battle for the fifth starter spot. Atlanta is planning to give Sean Newcomb a chance to reclaim a spot in the rotation after putting together a solid season out of the bullpen in 2019. He will be competing against some of the team’s younger arms in Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson and Touki Toussaint among others.

Atlanta added a veteran option to the mix earlier this week with the addition of long-time Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez. The Athletic’s David O’Brien took a closer look at Hernandez who will be looking to revive his career after a disastrous 2019 season in Seattle. The Braves need look no further than 2018 and the Anibal Sanchez signing at the end of spring training to understand the value a veteran hurler can bring. It remains to be seen if Hernandez has anything left but if he does then he could provide a bridge until some of the team’s younger options are ready.

More Braves News

MLB.com’s Mark Bowman discussed the Braves’ decision to sign Marcell Ozuna, what the bench might look like after the signing and whether or not there is another move to be made in his weekly inbox.

Former Braves’ pitcher Dallas Keuchel became the first player to publicly apologize for the sign-stealing scandal. Keuchel was a member of Houston’s 2017 championship team and spoke at the White Sox media event about the controversy.

More MLB News

The Miami Marlins continue to seek bullpen arms and are reportedly in pursuit of free agent Brandon Kintzler.

The St. Louis Cardinals are likely to use Alex Reyes in relief in 2020 as he tries to work his way back from injury. Reyes has been hampered by Tommy John surgery along with lat and pectoral injuries which have limited him to 195 2/3 innings over the past four seasons. He has worked mostly as a starter during his rise to the majors but it appears that the Cardinals are eyeing a reduced workload for him at least in the early going.

The Washington Nationals have struck a deal with free-agent catcher Welington Castillo according to a report by MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. On the surface, Castillo would appear to be a long shot to make the Nationals’ roster where they already have Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes penciled in as catcher. Castillo could stick around as depth or could catch the eye of another team should he turn in a productive spring.

The Chicago Cubs are reportedly closing in on a deal with free-agent outfielder Steven Souza according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Souza missed all of the 2019 season after suffering a knee injury in the second-to-last exhibition game of the spring.

The Houston Astros will reportedly interview former catcher Brad Ausmus for their vacant managerial position. Ausmus spent the 2019 season managing the Angels but was jettisoned after a 72-90 season in favor of Joe Maddon. Houston is expected to name a new manager as soon as next week.