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Braves Mailbag: 2022 Outfield, Max Fried, roster expansion and more

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What will Atlanta’s outfield look like in 2022?

Milwaukee Brewers v Atlanta Braves Photo by Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images

A huge thank you to everyone who submitted questions for this week’s mailbag. Let’s get right to it!

Johan Camargo is performing well at Gwinnett and would be a great addition to the Braves roster. When can we expect to see him brought up?

Unless someone gets hurt, I am not expecting to see Camargo back. There is no denying that Camargo has put up great numbers at Gwinnett, hitting .318/.401/.527 with a 147 wRC+ in 63 games. However, even when he was on the Major League roster, he was largely an afterthought, totaling just 18 plate appearances in 15 games. Not to mention that he is 0-for-16 in those 18 plate appearances. Since that big 2018 season, Camargo has appeared in 148 games at the Major League level and has hit .212/.260/.361 with a 59 wRC+.

If you want to make the case that he needs to play everyday to be effective, I will counter by saying that isn’t going to happen at this juncture with Atlanta. Even if there was an injury to an infielder, Orlando Arcia would probably be the one to get the call. At this point, Camargo is a non-tender candidate and likely won’t be back.

Do you think that Cristian Pache and Drew Waters figure in the Braves’ plans for the future? When Ronald Acuna Jr. comes back, there will be a glut in the outfield next year.

Since neither Pache or Waters were traded at the deadline, I would say that both still figure into the team’s plan for the future. I don’t really see an outfield glut. Yes, Joc Pederson and Adam Duvall both have mutual options for next season but those are rarely exercised by both parties. We don’t know what is going to happen with Marcell Ozuna either. In fact, the only player that I am sure will be in Atlanta’s outfield next season is Acuna.

Obviously, the team isn’t likely to go into next season with both Pache and Waters penciled in as starters, but they could be options at some point. Also, the DH is likely to return to the National League in 2022 which will give the Braves a little more flexibility.

With Duvall back in the fold, hopefully into next year, how will the Braves approach the DH for 2022 since it appears to be a lock to happen? Possibly carry 5 solid outfielders and have one DH and one sit depending on the match up?

Touched on this above but there isn’t a guarantee that Duvall will be back. I’d prefer to see the Braves not have a regular DH and instead use it to rest guys without really taking them out of the lineup. It will certainly add some flexibility.

I’m also wondering if having the DH would increase the likelihood Ronnie is in the opening day lineup while letting him avoid playing the outfield early on.

It certainly wouldn’t hurt but I don’t expect to see them rush Acuna back before he is ready.

There is a 40-man roster crunch coming and a lot of money coming off the books. Do you think this is when AA finally trades some prospects to go big game hunting for someone like, say, Jose Ramirez or Ketel Marte?

First, I don’t really see a 40-man roster crunch coming. They will have to add Waters to the 40-man but overall I think the situation is manageable. To answer your question though, maybe? It is always possible but it hasn’t happened yet. Given the way Austin Riley has performed I am not sure they would be looking for a third baseman, but again, the DH is likely coming and that will provide some measure of flexibility. I suspect that the Braves will explore a number of opportunities but it remains to be seen if they would be comfortable making that type of deal.

Are there any potential reasons why Fried isn’t as dominant as last season or should we just consider 2020 an aberration? With the exception of wins, it looks like most of his numbers are close to what he put up in 2019. Is this the version of Fried we should expect moving forward?

I thought this was an interesting question because other than that rough start, I feel like Fried has been pretty good this season. He has a 4.05 ERA but a 3.76 FIP. He has upped his strikeout rate and lowered his walk rate. His BABIP has jumped from .268 in 2020 to .318 this season. After allowing just two homers in 56 innings in 2020, he has surrendered 11 in 97 2/3 innings this season.

I think some regression was likely and that was something that a lot of the projection systems were predicting not only for Fried but also a guy like Mike Soroka. That was a major reason for the less than stellar preseason projections for the Braves overall. He was lights out in 2020 but I think you also have to factor in that it was a small sample. Fried is a good pitcher and should continue to be, but I am not sure he was ever in that very top tier of great starters. It’s also worth noting that Fried has been a bit of a chameleon year to year, even if his results have been steady. His FIP- in 2021 so far is pretty similar to 2019 (90, 85) while his xFIP-s for the last two years have also been more or less the same (91 in 2020, 89 this year). His pitches and usages keep changing, though, so it’s hard to say that overall profile-wise, he just won’t change next year. Still, he seems like a reasonable bet for run prevention around 10 percent better than league average if not slightly better, which is right in line with his career marks, regardless of how he gets there.

Are Kyle Wright, who has pitched well lately, and Tucker Davidson, coming off the 60 day IL soon, possible additions when rosters expand on 9/1?

Wright has pitched better in recent days but with Ian Anderson and Huascar Ynoa returning soon, I don’t really see an opening. The last thing we heard on Davidson was that he had not been cleared to resume throwing so I am not sure that it is a certainty that we see him again in 2021.

What prospect call-ups might make sense for the pennant chase, if any?

My gut tells me that they will use those two extra roster spots on the bullpen, which isn’t very exciting. I would guess that Pache would be a possibility as a defensive replacement and pinch runner but they may not want to go that route until after Gwinnett’s season is over, which is happening later this year than in other years because of the shifted minor league schedule. If they wanted to carry a third catcher then William Contreras would be the choice.