The negotiations are over and Major League Baseball is going to at least try to make a comeback in the midst of a global pandemic. While we can’t be sure if they will be successful, it is nice to once again put the focus back on the field.
The 2020 season will look like none other with a 60-game regular season, the DH in the National League and initially a 30-man active roster with another 30 players stationed at Gwinnett.
While I still have some questions in regards to if some of the roster rules will be altered for this abbreviated season, I have put together my first guess at a 30-man active roster along with the 30 reserves. This attempt is really just to act as a conversation starter as I am sure things will become more in focus once players report on July 1. For this exercise, I am assuming that pitchers won’t be capped and have settled on 15. Also, I have listed the players that are currently not on the 40-man roster and I am guessing that moves will need to be made before they can be on the active roster.
30-Man Active Roster
Starters: Mike Foltynewicz, Max Fried, Mike Soroka, Cole Hamels, Sean Newcomb, Kyle Wright, Bryce Wilson, Felix Hernandez (non-roster)
I settled on 16 pitchers total but if there isn’t a limit then we could see more, especially in the early going. Teams will likely piggy back starters as they continue to build strength so a traditional rotation probably won’t be in order at least until the roster size starts to pair down.
As far as the starters go, Mike Foltynewicz, Max Fried, Mike Soroka and Cole Hamels are locks if healthy. Sean Newcomb was in competition for the rotation when Spring Training was halted so I am guessing he will continue to be. Kyle Wright pitched well enough in March to win a rotation spot but could have been squeezed out. He shouldn’t have to worry about that now. Bryce Wilson did not pitch well during the spring and was relocated to minor league camp before the shutdown. I’m guessing he could get back in the picture here or could get replaced by someone like Touki Toussaint or another arm.
Felix Hernandez was the feel good story through the first camp. I think the shutdown hurts him more than the other pitchers but he should still be a factor for the rotation. He isn’t currently on the 40-man roster and will likely require a subsequent roster move.
Relievers: Will Smith, Mark Melancon, Shane Greene, Luke Jackson, Darren O’Day, Chris Martin, A.J. Minter, Phillip Pfeifer
Currently I have an eight-man bullpen projected. All of Will Smith, Mark Melancon, Shane Greene, Luke Jackson, Darren O’Day and Chris Martin appear to be locks if healthy. That gives the Braves two more spots to play with. I went with a pair of left-handers in A.J. Minter and Phillip Pfeifer but this is a deep group and there are a lot of possibilities.
Position Players (14)
Catchers: Travis d’Arnaud, Tyler Flowers
Most of the 30-man roster projections I have read for other teams includes three catchers. When I added a 16th pitcher I had to cut someone from the position player group and that ended up being Alex Jackson. The Braves currently have four catchers on their 40-man roster with Jackson and William Contreras so I don’t think carrying a third catcher is an absolute necessity.
Infielders: Ozzie Albies, Johan Camargo, Charlie Culberson (Non-Roster), Freddie Freeman, Adeiny Hechavarria, Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley
The biggest question marks among the infield group when Spring Training was shutdown was the third base battle between Austin Riley and Johan Camargo along with Charlie Culberson vying for a final roster spot. With the roster expanded plus the Designated Hitter option, both Riley and Camargo make the cut easily. I also penciled in Culberson for a bench spot since Brian Snitker has used him in the outfield as well although he currently isn’t on the 40-man roster and will need to be added. A guy like Adeiny Hechavarria, who the Braves signed for shortstop depth, could become expendable at some point but probably not to begin the season.
Outfielders: Ronald Acuna, Adam Duvall, Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis, Marcell Ozuna
Atlanta’s outfield group appears to be set with Ronald Acuña Jr., Ender Inciarte and Marcell Ozuna penciled in as starters. Nick Markakis and Adam Duvall are the reserves in this group. Ozuna and Markakis could see some time at DH as well. We will talk about Atlanta’s DH options in more detail soon.
Taxi Squad (30)
Projecting the reserve players and taxi squad is a difficult effort and I really am not sure what direction the Braves will go here. I expect at least 15-20 players to be included as players that the major league club may need at some point during the season. I expect the rest to be made up of prospects who might benefit from working out in a major league environment and could be part of the equation at some point in 2020.
Remaining 40-man roster players (12): Tucker Davidson, Grant Dayton, Jasseel De La Cruz, Chad Sobotka, Touki Toussaint, Jeremy Walker, Jacob Webb, Patrick Weigel, Huascar Ynoa, William Contreras, Alex Jackson, Cristian Pache
This is the remaining list of players who are currently in the 40-man roster. Remember that if my guess is correct, then two of these players will need to be dropped to make room for Felix Hernandez and Charlie Culberson. I am really excited to see Tucker Davidson and Jasseel De La Cruz get a shot at some point this season.
Pitchers: Ian Anderson, Thomas Burrows, Kyle Muller, Chris Nunn, Tyler Matzek, Chris Rusin, Josh Tomlin
Catchers: Shea Langeliers
Infielders: CJ Alexander, Yonder Alonso, Bryce Ball, Braden Shewmake, Yangervis Solarte,
Outfielders: Trey Harris, Peter O’Brien, Greyson Jenista, Rafael Ortega, Drew Waters
This remaining list is based off the players that were in camp during the spring. I left off some of the veteran minor leaguers with more experience such as Pete Kozma and Sean Kazmar in favor of some of the prospects. The Braves have nine pitchers on the 40-man that aren’t included in my 30-man projection so I went with more of a position player focus here.
Again, nailing the reserve roster is going to be difficult but I think this is a good place to start. We will update this again once camp opens and things start to take shape.