As Spring Training gets ready to kick off next week with pitchers and catchers reporting, eternal optimism for 30 teams will fill the air and our Atlanta Braves will look to repeat winning the division for the 3rd straight year with dreams of grabbing their first ring in 25 years (reality check: 30% of the 40-man wasn’t even born yet).
Excluding injuries or unforeseen trades that could alter the 26-man roster, the Braves have a large chunk of their team that will no doubt break camp on the big league team due to lack of options, or the fact that they’re really good at baseball. That’s where we’ll begin our Atlanta Braves Roster Talk.
Atlanta Braves Roster Talk: The Locks
Catcher: Travis d’Arnaud
1st Baseman: Freddie Freeman
2nd Baseman: Ozzie Albies
Shortstop: Dansby Swanson
Left Field: Marcell Ozuna
Center Field: Ender Inciarte
Right Field: Ronald Acuña Jr.
Lock, but role undetermined: Sean Newcomb
Total Locks: 22
Atlanta Braves Roster Talks: The Battles
With 22 of the 26 roster spots locked up, the Braves will have an all-out battle to grab the last 4 roster spots. Here are the spots available:
- 5th Starting Pitcher
- Relief Pitcher
- Starting 3rd Baseman
- Bench Bat
Atlanta Braves Roster Talks: The Battles, 5th Starting Pitcher
With the Braves being a team that rebuilt the farm system trading for and drafting starting pitcher after starting pitcher, there are so many options that the Braves could utilize. In this exercise, I’ll try my best to provide % points to each SP candidate to determine their chance of being named the 5th starting pitcher. When spring ramps up, I’ll take the news in and provide a Monday update each week. There will be 2 non-roster invitees that will make this list, but otherwise, I’ll keep it to the 40-man.
- Sean Newcomb- 45%
- Bryse Wilson-35%
- Felix Hernandez-35%
- Kyle Wright-15%
- Tucker Davidson-10%
- Philip Pfeifer- 10%
- Touki Toussaint-0%
- Ian Anderson-0%
Breakdown: I truly think it’s a 4-man battle for the last spot in the rotation. I don’t think Alex Anthopoulos is a GM that’s guilty of false-speech and I believe whole-heartedly that he intends to let Sean Newcomb re-test the starting pitcher waters. Both Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson showed really good signs of their pitching repertoire coming ’round at Gwinnett (Bryse’s changeup, Wright’s everything). Some might be hesitant to put Felix at 35%, but not me. In this piece that I wrote a few weeks back, I feel whole-heartedly at ease putting 35% beside his name knowing full well that it’s time for Felix to adapt or die, and I got a feeling he wants to adapt. Pfeifer and Davidson are on the outside looking in, and Touki is out of luck until he can show he’s past his control and contact issues.
Atlanta Braves Roster Talks: The Battles, Reliever
This is where the list gets a bit lengthy due, in large part, to the lack of a veteran mop-up presence on the roster. While that’s not a good place for a rookie to be, as of now we can only assume that one of the guys on the 40-man or NRI list will be the mop-up man. The only 2 I’ll exclude from the above list are Tucker Davidson and Ian Anderson, as they won’t be mop-up pitchers should they get the call-up.
- Sean Newcomb- 55%
- Bryse Wilson-25%
- Kyle Wright-0%
- Felix Hernandez-25%
- Philip Pfeifer-10%
- Touki Toussaint-0%
- Patrick Weigel– 0%
- Grant Dayton– 10%
- Jasseel De La Cruz
- A.J. Minter-10%
- Chad Sobotka-0%
- Jeremy Walker-0%
- Jacob Webb-10%
- Huascar Ynoa– 0%
- Chris Nunn– 5%
Breakdown: If Newcomb becomes the 5th starting pitcher, that will lead to the need for 2 relievers and these percentages will change greatly. I think the trickle down effect would be that the Braves would want another LHP in the bullpen and a long-relief option. Wilson and Pfeifer fit the first description while Dayton and Pfeifer fit the 2nd. Jacob Webb was great when healthy and if he’s healthy, he might have the inside track to the last bullpen spot. Still, I feel like we’re going to see a trade at some point before spring training ends to clear out this list.
Atlanta Braves Roster Talks: The Battles, Starting 3rd Baseman
This one is fairly straight-forward. One of Austin Riley or Johan Camargo will be the starting 3rd baseman for the Atlanta Braves should no other moves be made. And while the mass media is pumping up Johan Camargo and pumping the brakes on Austin Riley, I’m not convinced that’s accurate:
- Johan Camargo: 50%
- Austin Riley: 50%
Breakdown: While I think Johan Camargo is a good ballplayer, the fact remains that he’s essentially had one year in his entire professional career of which he was an above average hitter. To be contrarian, he’s grown a lot physically and is apparently in the BSOHL. But Austin Riley is a good ballplayer with one serious mechanical flaw that he’s worked on all offseason, and I’m not going to overlook that no matter what the media is telling me.
Atlanta Braves Roster Talks: The Battles, Bench Bat
This category might be the place where the Braves aren’t done as the options are fine, but the team might look to add a veteran presence.
Breakdown: I think it’d be quite possible that if Austin Riley breaks camp as the starting 3rd baseman that Johan Camargo would grab the last bench spot. However, if it were vice-versa, I’d expect Riley to go to AAA to grab everyday at-bats, which would then lead back to Culberson grabbing the last bench spot. The only way I see Alex Jackson breaking camp with the Braves would be that if Anthopoulos preferred a 3rd catcher, freeing up Flowers or d’Arnaud as a bench bat, but I think that scenario is quite low…hence the 5%.
Thanks for reading about on our Atlanta Braves Roster Talk. If you enjoyed this piece, check out our Atlanta Braves Updated Payroll piece here.