Yesterday we discussed what we think the Braves should do at the deadline, today we look at their biggest areas of need. Since we began this exercise, Atlanta has made two trades adding Joc Pederson and Stephen Vogt so keep in mind that many of the answers were given before it was apparent that the Braves were intent on adding.
What position is the biggest area of need for the Braves?
Daniel - This question entirely depends on what timeframe we are discussing. If we are talking about competing in 2021 (which is unlikely to happen), they need bullpen arms and an outfield upgrade (even after getting Pederson), although there are other spots that could be upgraded like catcher. If we are discussing this more in the long term, then they need to just add talent where they can find it. There are very few places on the roster that aren’t upgradable at the moment. The outfield is pretty glaring as a weakness outside of Ronald Acuña (once he comes back) without Ozuna, although the Braves have a number of high end outfield prospects. Pederson helps this if both parties agree to the mutual option, but there is still an open spot.
Ivan - They need outfield help. As weird as it is, the team was already only a viable contender because it was adding Marcell Ozuna’s three wins, and now he needs to go away forever, so the team is already not really a viable contender just based on that. So he needs to be replaced, and center field is another place the team has the potential to bleed tons of value, so… The pitching performed awfully at times, but problems with the pitching seem like they can be resolved by just using the pitchers better in a way that outfield problems cannot. Not that they should get outfield help, at least not real help, at the Trade Deadline, mind. I’m just answering the question. (And yes, post-Joc Pederson, they still need outfield help.)
Eric - In the short term, it is definitely in the outfield given that Marcell Ozuna is out of the picture due to injury and legal issues and Ronald Acuna Jr. tore his ACL. Drew Waters and Cristian Pache have definitely looked better of late for Gwinnett (particularly Waters) so that is a potential at least partial solution, but it’s still pretty rough out there on the major league roster at the moment. I wouldn’t sleep on the rotation either, as they have been ravaged by injuries too, and with Ian Anderson shoulder now ailing, that is a lot of hope to pin on some older guys and guys that don’t have the best track record of staying on the field for long stretches.
Scott - A little bit of everything. Looking ahead, this team could be in search of a starting first baseman, shortstop, at least one outfielder, at least one starting pitcher and a bullpen overhaul this offseason. It will be a fascinating next 6-9 months of roster revamping.
Demetrius - The Braves need some sort of cosmic help because it’s pretty rare to see a team as badly snakebitten as this year’s version of the Braves have been. In all seriousness, I’d agree with Scott. If the Braves are going to return to being a World Series contender then the team is likely going to look very different from what we’re used to. With that being said, the outfield is in complete shambles right now and that’s where the Braves need the most help at the moment.
Kris - First and foremost they need bullpen help. Adding or one even two relievers could help solidify a pen that has been inconsistent from the start. Beyond that, they need to get healthy and hopefully be able to navigate the final 2+ months of the season without losing any more key players.
Brent - Atlanta’s biggest area of need right now is some idea of what will become of Marcell Ozuna. Until that cloud rolls over the horizon, Atlanta is going to be hamstrung from a decision-making standpoint. I’m not overly worried about other positions. 2021 has been a lesson that nothing is guaranteed, players are volatile. That can work in our favor in the future just as easily as it’s working against us now. If we felt fine about the general health of the franchise 3 months ago, a bad luck summer shouldn’t drastically change that.
Dillon - The Braves need serious help in the outfield just to limp through the second-half of the season, but the most urgent need for Atlanta beyond the next ten weeks will be a power bat for the middle of their order. Having the Ozuna situation unresolved leaves the club in limbo functionally, financially, and morally. Finding a long-term solution to replace him would be difficult, but this season has shown that internal options are lacking. Riley and Swanson have shown flashes, but the Braves will need to address the middle of their order this winter if they hope to find success in 2021.This obviously does not even account for the possibility that Freddie Freeman leaves via free agency, but we can entertain that thought at a later time.
Shawn - It is certainly the outfield. There is not a true starting outfielder on the Braves roster at the moment. Their two best hitting prospects in Cristian Pache and Drew Waters have had inconsistent seasons. Obviously, Marcell Ozuna is not a reliable option for the long term. Whether they buy low at the deadline or make a move in the offseason, the strength of this team is their offense. They must find a way to support that strength by either finding a long-term OF option internally (Austin Riley, Orlando Arica) or getting creative with bringing in one from outside the franchise.
Gaurav - It really depends on the goal - but the Braves need help in the outfield, bullpen, and starting pitching (unless you keep Morton and Smyly). If the Braves are going to try and win a weak NL East you can’t have a starting outfield consisting of Ender, Almonte, and Heredia. You can hide a bat like Pache if you have production in the corner spots but without it you can’t. Waters isn’t ready this year either so that’s a conversation ender in it’s own.
Matt - There isn’t one because there are so many. The bullpen needs help desperately, the outfield may have been the worst in baseball the rest of the season before the trade for Joc, catcher hasn’t been good this season and a veteran needs to be added if TDA is not here next year, and I think short is a pretty big need because I feel like Dansby is about to get overpaid when his time to get an extension comes and I would prefer not to see the Braves be the team to overpay. Then the rotation can use another piece, or two if we see guys dealt.
Wayne - Getting Joc Pederson certainly helps, but he doesn’t feel like “the answer” type of guy. I think the biggest issue and difference from the past few seasons is the bullpen. They proved last year a team can win with a makeshift rotation if they have the goods in the ‘pen to back it up, and this season it hasn’t been that. If you go the route and assume they are trying to go for it with the Pederson trade, I would address the bullpen next.
AB - The Ozuna-Pache-Acuña outfield turned into the Arcia-Heredia-Adrianza one in three months. Hopefully, 2022 will look better but right now is ghastly. They have started six catchers this year but D’Arnaud should be back soon and Alex Jackson has looked better in Gwinnett. The future will be better in the 5-8 lineup spot, but for now we will have to grin and bear it.