Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker spoke to the media on Friday where he discussed the offseason and the upcoming 2021 MLB season. While he did not have a lot of info to share in terms of who else might be added to the roster this offseason, he did have some insight on a few current Braves players.
Ender Inciarte’s status and the emergence of Cristian Pache
One of the first topics discussed centered on the status of outfielder Ender Inciarte who is slated to earn $8.7 million this season. Inciarte saw his 2019 season end due to injury and he struggled in 2020 hitting .190/.262/.250 while also appearing to have lost a step in centerfield. Inciarte was left off Atlanta’s postseason roster and pretty much has not been mentioned since until Friday.
Snitker gave the expected answer for a player that is still under contract. “He’ll come to spring training and compete for a job,” Snitker said of Inciarte. “We’ll see where it goes.”
The emergence of Cristian Pache and his performance in the postseason has cast further doubt on whether Inciarte will be able to hold on to a roster spot. The Braves may very well try to move him but may have to eat a large portion of his 2020 salary and $1.025 million buyout for 2021 to do so.
Snitker was also asked how confident he was in Pache after watching him during the postseason. “Very much. I think he’s going to be well versed to go in and compete for a position next year or this coming spring. I really liked what I saw, how he handled the whole thing. Just on that stage and how he responded was very encouraging.”
On Marcell Ozuna, the DH and rule changes
Marcell Ozuna is a free agent and the Braves are one of many potential suitors. Snitker said that he has had several conversations with general manager Alex Anthopoulos this offseason but that Ozuna had not come up.
“I texted Marcell congratulations on being on the All-MLB team as the DH, but other than that I haven’t had any conversations with him or Alex about where he is at.”
Snitker added that he was initially unsure about the number of rule changes that were instituted into the 2020 season including the DH. However, after getting some time with it, he liked the changes.
“I didn’t know how I would feel about all those things,” Snitker said. “After experiencing the DH, I like it.”
Snitker was also fond of the new extra inning rule that put a runner at second base even though he admitted that he wasn’t sure what the correct thing to do in that situation is.
“I love the putting the guy at second base in an extra inning game. I have said it before but I’m still not real sure what the right thing to do in that situation is and I think it’s kind of fun. I thought it added to the game.”
As far as rule changes go, Snitker said he is on the fence about any rule that would limit defensive shifts and thinks it is up to the players to adjust.
“I’m kind of on the fence about that too,” Snitker said. “Part of me is like, it is our team and we should be able to put the guys within the lines wherever we want. I think it is up to the players, I think they are going to adjust and adapt to that.”
The additions of Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly
Snitker also discussed the additions of Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly whom the Braves secured on one year deals earlier this offseason.
“I think it is great. We saw how fragile the rotation was last year. We went into last year with hope, a lot of depth, a lot of guys. To add two guys like that I think it is going to be great. I love getting reunited with Charlie. I don’t know Drew, but I have talked to him and he seems excited about being here. You look at the numbers and I think it is going to be great to have both of them.”
He expanded on the addition of Morton saying that he is a guy that brings instant credibility to the rotation.
“He’s one of those guys that brings instant credibility. I just see what he’s done in his career and where he’s been. You just look at the body of work and what he’s done. He’s the modern day John Smoltz in the postseason. He is a number one and I think it was great that Alex reached out and got him.”