Atlanta Braves Roster Talk #2: Opening Day

Our first piece, titled “Atlanta Braves Roster Talk: The Locks and the Battles” was posted 13 days ago, and we’ve already had a major update that changes the locks for opening day.

Also, there was a signing that likely factors into the bullpen equation as Josh Tomlin inked an MiLB deal with an invitation to Spring Training. With Snitker’s preference to give the ball to a veteran relief pitcher for mop-up duty, Tomlin’s presence in camp could alter the Atlanta Braves Opening Day roster. Let’s get to it going over the locks.

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. Reminder that these predictions are made entirely on the basis that each player remains healthy throughout Spring Training.

Atlanta Braves Opening Day Roster: The Locks

I chose not to do the exercise alone this time and reached out to our writing panel to give me their % chances for players on Opening Day. I got 3 takers in Rob, Matt L., and Matt P. They agreed on all players for locks on the roster (assuming no trades) with 2 exceptions. Last post, there were 22 locks. With the Hamels injury and the disagreements on locked spots, there are only 19 players that have made the list as locks.

POSITION PLAYERS

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.

Bench: Nick Markakis, Tyler Flowers

THE PITCHING

Starting Pitchers: Mike Soroka, Mike Foltynewicz, Max Fried

Relief Pitchers: Mark Melancon, Will Smith, Shane Greene, Chris Martin, Luke Jackson, Darren O’Day

Lock, but role undetermined: Sean Newcomb

TOTAL LOCKS: 19

The Battles, 4th & 5th Starting Pitcher

With Cole Hamels on the shelf for an unknown amount of time, this greatly changes things for the rotation on Opening Day and opens up 2 spots for starting pitchers from this lot:

Breakdown: For now, our panel believes that the 4th and 5th starting spot will go to Newcomb and King Felix with Bryse Wilson moving into that 5th spot should Newcomb head to the bullpen. This feels right. Josh Tomlin didn’t get put in this section merely because of his usage last year. If we hear that he might be getting stretched out to start, this will change next week.

The Battles, Reliever(s)

Breakdown: If Newcomb lands a starting job, then our panel thinks that Tomlin and either Jacob Webb or A.J. Minter round out the bullpen. As before, this feels right with Minter getting the upper hand for being a lefty. It’s worth noting that if this is the way it would shake out, Grant Dayton would have to be DFA’d as he is out of options.

The Battles, Starting 3rd Baseman

In our piece from yesterday, we’ve seen what we as fans wanted to see from both candidates for the 3B position as Johan Camargo has lost considerable weight and is the frontrunner for Atlanta Braves BSOHL. Not to be topped, Austin Riley has made a HUGE swing adjustment, coming in more compact with less backward movement in his load which should greatly increase his chances of catching up with any pitch.

  • Johan Camargo: 47%
  • Austin Riley: 53%

Breakdown: This is where I have to play a bit of a guessing game with the board. 3 of the 4 were at 50% with Riley, and one was 60%. I’m assuming they’re thinking like I’m thinking in that if Riley is up, he’s the starting 3B, not a bench bat and so I consolidated all of his % points into the starting gig.

The Battles, Bench Bats (3)

  • Johan Camargo- 97%
  • Adeiny Hechavarria- 93%
  • Charlie Culberson- 40%
  • Alex Jackson- 8%
  • Adam Duvall-63%
  • Austin Riley- 0%

Breakdown: There were some small % points left off for Adeiny and I can understand that as his contract would be nothing to let go. Most thought Camargo a lock to be on the roster, but not sure the role which makes sense. Honestly, I thought for sure that Duvall was a lock on this team, but others see it differently. He is an arb guy and his contract isn’t guaranteed, so I guess there’s a chance that the Braves would opt to carry Culberson over him, but I think it’s his spot to lose.

Thanks for reading about on our Atlanta Braves Roster Talk. If you enjoyed this piece and were off of Braves Journal on Sunday, check out our Atlanta Braves Spring Training piece from yesterday.

Long Live Braves Journal

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

23 thoughts on “Atlanta Braves Roster Talk #2: Opening Day”

  1. Great piece Ryan. Just need a little clarification. If either Culberson or Duvall don’t make the team to start the year do they get DFA’d and find another team?

  2. Didn’t Bobby work on short term contracts through most of his time with the Braves?

    Based on results so far with Snit, the job’s his until he no longer wants it. A WS title would seal the deal however.

    The content of BJ has become consistently excellent, including most of the comments. It’s nice to have a place to find rational minds voicing differing opinions, and it pleases old coggers not to be swamped with “trade dreck for gold” dreamcasting.

    Thank you, everyone. Keep up the good work.

  3. @TD
    We haven’t heard whether or not Culberson has an opt-out, but if he doesn’t, he’ll just go to AAA. Duvall wouldn’t need to be DFA’d as he still has value at his contract so he could be traded. However, he doesn’t have options so if no one traded for him, he would have to be DFA’d.

  4. Waters, Bryse and Ender for the now injured Clevenger. Who hangs up?

    If Pache both shows out in spring and is willing to sign a 10 year deal I can see us making the trade. Cleveland, meanwhile is still short a couple MLB quality outfielders. Hell, I would throw in Duvall too in that case :)

  5. I really wanted Clevinger. I’d do that package plus Swanson if the Tribe included Lindor. Heck, chunk a nstaapp in there too.

  6. From a source of mine, Braves had some HUGE trade offers on the table for Cleveland a month back, but that was all I heard.

    I think Braves are standing pat now, but something to keep in the back pocket for deadline.

  7. Which of these 40-man members will be sent to AAA instead of being DFA’ed should they not make the roster: Dayton, Webb, Pfeifer, Weigel, and Sobotka?

  8. I just don’t see the 40-man making an impact at all on how they will make 25-man roster decisions. If King Felix looks remotely like even the resurrected Anibal Sanchez or if we need a 2nd middle infielder and Culberson is healthy, there is a lengthly list of players, with and without options, I’m willing to DFA if they don’t make the roster out of Spring Training:

    -Dayton
    -Sobotka
    -Pfeifer
    -Weigel
    -Webb

    Shoot, I would think there are even scenarios where you’d DFA Minter and/or O’Day. If all of the guys that are on the 40-man that have options and are pitching well, I could see them DFA’ing Minter if he gets creamed in Spring Training and he shows the same struggles as last year.

    What I don’t see is some scenario where Felix or Culberson are having a good spring, and AA says, “Dern, I know we, like, want to win a World Series and everything, but I really like this dude who can’t throw strikes and is now 25 years old named Chad Sobotka, so I’m going to DFA King Felix so I can stash Sobotka in AAA.” Or Pfeifer. Or Webb. Or Weigel. I just don’t see this scenario where we let good players who can help us win a championship this year go because we want to hold onto flyer relievers on the 40-man.

    If O’Day looks like a mediocre ROOGY, which is what his skillset could easily limit him to being, with the three-batter rule, I doubt we keep him simply because he’s making $2.75M and he’s on the 40-man.

    If AA uses the 40-man as a reason to not keep these guys, shame on him. But he won’t.

  9. What are your projections for King Felix?

    I’ll say… 7-10 4.55 ERA if he made 30 starts (which is very very doubtful obviously) Would that be worth it at what they paid him and as a 5th starter? I say, probably.

    Also, Spring is in the air.

    Go Braves.

    Going to all 4 games of the opening series here with the Diamondbacks. Say hello if you go.

  10. @14 O’Day is not now nor ever has been any sort of ROOGY. He may have been used that way last year to “break him in easy”, but that is not how he should have been used or should be used going forward. If he is still the original O’Day from before his knee injury then he is a solid one-inning guy either for the 7th or 8th. Further, he is the kind of guy that would be really complimentary to a hard-throwing sinker type guy (a perfect fit as a lead-in to Britton back in the day). His delivery is deceptive and the upward movement on his (sort of) fastball makes it really play up especially as the trend is to attack the upper part of the strike zone these days. O’Day is a lock for the 25-man.

    O’Day has the potential to be a Jesse Orosco type – a guy that can pitch effectively with funky stuff up into his 40s.

  11. King Felix is going to be a big Bartolo. I’d rather we stash him at AAA while we test out the more promising prospects.

    @14 Also, as you state the most fringy players are the not-established relievers. I believe that Minter will ultimately prove to be useful but I’ll bet they keep Dayton over Minter on the 25-man because of the lack of options.

    What I’d really like to see is Davidson get an early shot in the rotation. Since Hamels is a lefty, its only logical that the guy to take his starts be a lefty and Davidson is the best prospect that has not yet had a shot. I also like Newk as #5 because it leaves more room in the bullpen for some guy as the ones in your list to prove themselves. Dayton or Minter, in particular, but it’s hard to believe that Webb doesn’t get some chances as well as he pitched before his injury. And Walker and Weigel, too. They have done nothing to diminish their status.

    Ultimately, it would be better to try and trade for lower level prospects than just to DFA.

  12. There is not much evidence to suggest Felix can even be as good as Colon was with Minnesota after we cut him in 2017. Colon’s stats after turning 40 are better than Felix’s after turning 30. (And it’s not close.)

    I can’t believe Chief is less pessimistic than I am, but first time for everything.

  13. @Rob
    We could argue till sunup but I think you’re way off base with the 40-man but maybe it’s for different reasons. To DFA a guy shows, for the most part, that the guy is of no value to your team and other teams can come grab him. There’s literally no one on this 40-man that has no trade value and that’s the problem. With Culberson, Felix, and Tomlin needing roster spots should they make the club, AA is going to have to make some moves and I pray that he’s got a plan, and it’s not just to lose player(s).

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