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Braves Roster Outlook: An unfinished product

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The Braves solidified their rotation but there is still work left to be done.

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves acted quickly this offseason in solidifying their starting rotation with the addition Tof free agents Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly on a pair of one-year deals. While the rotation appears to be in good shape, there is still work to be done with the rest of the roster. Below we will take a closer look at where things currently stand coming out of the holidays.

The Braves currently have 38 players on their 40-man roster and those are the only players I am considering for this exercise. Also, I am projecting a 26-man roster with no DH which was what was in place before Spring raining was shut down in 2020. This outlook will change considerably before Spring Training begins, but this can serve as an example of what areas still need to be shored up this offseason.

Projected Rotation

  1. Mike Soroka* - RHP
  2. Max Fried - LHP
  3. Charlie Morton - RHP
  4. Ian Anderson - RHP
  5. Drew Smyly - LHP

Others: Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, Touki Toussaint, Huascar Ynoa, Tucker Davidson, Kyle Muller

The additions of Morton and Smyly, along with the expected return of Mike Soroka from injury gives the Braves a much different look in the rotation than what they deployed in 2020. On paper, Atlanta has much more rotation depth provided that Soroka is ready to go early in the season, as expected . Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson would likely be the next two options while Touki Toussaint and Huascar Ynoa would also be available. This may be the point in time where we see Toussaint or Ynoa shifted to a bullpen role but we are going to leave them here in this group for now. Tucker Davidson made his Major League debut during the final regular season series and should be a factor at some point in 2021. Kyle Muller was added to the 40-man roster this offseason and is Atlanta’s current top pitching prospect that has yet to appear in the majors.

Projected Bullpen

  1. Will Smith - LHP
  2. Chris Martin - RHP
  3. Tyler Matzek - LHP
  4. A.J. Minter - LHP
  5. Luke Jackson - RHP
  6. Jacob Webb - RHP
  7. Grant Dayton - LHP
  8. Josh Tomlin - RHP

Others: Sean Newcomb, Philip Pfeifer, Jasseel De La Cruz, Chad Sobotka, Jeremy Walker, Patrick Weigel

I still would not be surprised to see the Braves add another veteran reliever to the mix, whether that is a reunion with Mark Melancon or someone else. The back half of the bullpen still has a lot of depth provided that Will Smith bounces back while Tyler Matzek and A.J. Minter repeat their 2020 success. Chris Martin could step into Melancon’s closer role with Smith working other high leverage situations.

I don’t know that the Braves would actually carry four lefties in their bullpen but a lot of these guys can be interchangeable. Sean Newcomb seems like a safe bet to return to a relief role and could easily capture a spot. Patrick Weigel and Jasseel De La Cruz should get some looks during the spring. Philip Pfeifer and Jeremy Walker spent the 2020 season on the injured list while Chad Sobotka has been able to hold on to a 40-man spot for a while despite poor performance.

Projected Lineup

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr. - RF
  2. Ozzie Albies - 2B
  3. Freddie Freeman - 1B
  4. Travis d’Arnaud - C
  5. Austin Riley - 3B
  6. Dansby Swanson - SS
  7. Cristian Pache - CF
  8. Ender Inciarte - LF

I think it is a pretty safe bet that Atlanta will add an outfielder, whether that is Marcell Ozuna or someone else, before Spring Training so this will likely change going forward. However, this is how things stand currently. It remains to be seen whether or not Ender Inciarte will stick on the roster, but if he isn’t traded, he will go to Spring Training trying to lock down a roster spot. If the DH doesn’t return to the NL in 2021, then I expect Freddie Freeman to return to the third spot in the batting order as well.

Projected Bench:

  1. Alex Jackson - C
  2. Johan Camargo - INF
  3. Jack Mayfield - INF
  4. Abraham Almonte - OF
  5. William Contreras - C

As you can see from the bench projection above, Atlanta is currently a little short on position players for the 40-man roster. Besides an outfielder, it seems likely that the Braves will add a veteran catcher to back up Travis d’Arnaud. There has been some chatter about William Contreras possibly filling that role, but I think it is much more likely that he spends most of the season at Gwinnett and could be a possibility during the second half.

The Braves signed Johan Camargo to a non-guaranteed deal and he probably needs to show something during the spring to grab a roster spot. Atlanta claimed Jack Mayfield off of waivers from Houston and he has options remaining, so he could be sent to Gwinnett. I’m not convinced Abraham Almonte can lock down a bench slot either, so expect this bench unit to look very different by the time Spring Training gets here.