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Braves Mailbag: 2022 Outfield, Dansby Swanson, Touki Toussaint and more

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Will Adam Duvall be in the Braves’ outfield in 2022?

Atlanta Braves v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Thanks to everyone who sent in questions for this week’s Atlanta Braves mailbag. If I didn’t get to your question, we will do it again soon. Let’s get right to it!

What will the Braves do with Touki Toussaint? He’s pitching so well as a starter and is still so young (he just turned 25) it seems like an odd fit to pitch him out of the Bullpen.

Obviously I received this question before Touki was put back in the rotation Thursday night. The plan was always to go with a six-man rotation during this road trip so he never was really out of the rotation. He got a significant amount of rest mostly because of back-to-back off days along with the return of Ian Anderson. The off days allowed the Braves to reset their rotation. With Smyly’s struggles, it seems as though Toussaint had a good opportunity to stick in the rotation but we will have to see how they play it after his struggles Thursday night.

I don’t consider him as an odd fit for the bullpen though. I think he and Huascar Ynoa could be excellent options for the back end of the bullpen. The Braves need them in the rotation now but I wouldn’t rule out a move for either in the future yet.

With Dansby Swanson having a breakout season and coming into his final year of arbitration, might the Braves be looking to trade him and sign a lower priced SS? Between Freddie Freeman’s extension and Marcell Ozuna’s dead weight it seems like there may be a payroll crunch.

It is possible, but they would be hard pressed to duplicate Swanson’s production at shortstop or elsewhere in the lineup. Cot’s Contracts has the Braves at just over $50 million in salary for next season. They need to get Freeman signed and have several arbitration-eligible players, including Swanson that will add to that number. The Braves were set to have their biggest payroll ever in 2020 before the pandemic hit. They were forced to reduce that at the start of this season but with fans back and the team ranking high in attendance, there is no reason they can’t push that payroll back up to where it was prior to the pandemic.

I’m sure that I was like every other fan that thought the season was over when Ronald Acuna Jr. went down. Credit to Alex Anthopoulos for not thinking so. I love the deadline pickups. My question is can they all stay knowing Freddie Freeman has to be prioritized at some point?

The deadline additions don’t really have any bearing on Freeman’s situation. Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler are both free agents at the end of the season. Joc Pederson and Adam Duvall both have mutual options, which are rarely exercised by both sides. Even if the DH comes to the National League, there is no way that all of them are coming back. You also have to remember, the Braves will get Acuña back at some point next season, they also have Cristian Pache and Drew Waters who if not traded, will be pushing for an opportunity. Then there is also the Marcell Ozuna situation that will have to play itself out.

I could see the Braves and Duvall agreeing to exercise his mutual option but he is closing in on a 30-homer season and could decide to seek a multi-year deal elsewhere. I think Atlanta will have interest in maybe keeping two of the group but a lot really depends on what happens this offseason.

What would be your ideal/realistic take on who they try to bring back for the outfield next year?

If it were up to me, I’d try to bring back Pederson and Duvall. If they elect to cut ties with Ozuna then I’d take a hard look at Soler as well.

Why is there no talk of dumping the DH from the game? Why is the talk only in one direction? I love the strategy of the NL game.

I think it is time for the Universal DH. Pitchers get paid to pitch and you need not look any further than Max Fried getting hurt while running bases back an April as an example. I think the strategy argument is overplayed and no one was complaining about it last season. The DH will be good for the players and for the game.

Other contending teams are more than comfortable w/ juggling their leadoff spot in order to get better matchups (see SF this past weekend). Will the Braves do this & get away from the notion that the top of the lineup needs to be set the same way every day? When Acuna was in that spot, then sure drive that consistency, because he’s one the top-5 players in the NL & he’s going to produce more times than not regardless of the handedness of the opposing SP. However, him being lost due to injury should IMO force the club to react differently to the leadoff spot & really strive to maximize what they can get out of the lineup spot that is going to have the most PAs. What would it take for the club to implement a platoon between Albies & literally anybody (Pederson & Rosario are two LHHs that would do better against RHP & Swanson, Duvall, & T’dA are three RHHs that would do better against RHP) in the leadoff spot?

This is a good question but it probably doesn’t have an appealing answer. I think the Braves take a very old school approach to the lineup in general. Brian Snitker likes to settle on something and doesn’t like to make wholesale changes. After Acuña’s injury, the Braves aren’t blessed with a lot of good candidates to lead off. I think Joc Pederson makes some sense there as would Dansby Swanson. I wouldn’t be excited about using Adam Duvall with his .290 OBP against right-handers in the leadoff spot though.