2021 Braves Spring Training Roster Talk

Spring is upon us and another Braves season is about to be underway. With key additions of Charlie Morton, Drew Smyly, and Marcell Ozuna, the Braves have solidified both their lineup and their starting rotation. However, many fans are worried about, and with good reason, the lack of depth in both the bullpen and the bench. While the Braves seem to be going for low cost lottery tickets to fill the last 3-4 spots on the roster, fan’s worries aren’t unjustified as there were many good players that went for very little money that could’ve provided the depth the Braves need to make it back to postseason play. Today’s piece, “2021 Braves Spring Training Roster Talk“, will provide the full list of players invited to spring training, both roster and non-roster, and will provide a % going into spring for each of the players on the chance they’ll break camp being one of the lucky 26.

A few assumptions:

  1. Mike Soroka will not break camp with the team due to health concerns.
  2. Braves will carry 8 relievers and a 5 man bench.
  3. Backup catchers such as Logan Brown and Jonathan Morales will not be included on the % chance list as they are merely here to aid in catching all of the spring training bullpens.
  4. Aside from Soroka, this list assumes that everyone else is 100% healthy.

Braves 40-Man Roster and *Non-Roster Invitees

Pitchers

  1. Ian Anderson
  2. Victor Arano
  3. Tucker Davidson
  4. Grant Dayton
  5. Jasseel De La Cruz
  6. Max Fried
  7. Luke Jackson
  8. Chris Martin
  9. A.J. Minter
  10. Tyler Matzek
  11. Charlie Morton
  12. Kyle Muller
  13. Sean Newcomb
  14. Philip Pfeifer
  15. Will Smith
  16. Drew Smyly
  17. Chad Sobotka
  18. Mike Soroka
  19. Josh Tomlin
  20. Touki Toussaint
  21. Jacob Webb
  22. Bryse Wilson
  23. Patrick Weigel
  24. Kyle Wright
  25. Huascar Ynoa
  26. *Thomas Burrows
  27. *Jason Creasy
  28. *Carl Edwards Jr.
  29. *Daysbel Hernandez
  30. *Kurt Hoekstra
  31. *Connor Johnstone
  32. *Nate Jones
  33. *Nolan Kingham
  34. *Freddy Tarnok
  35. *Victor Vodnik
  36. *William Woods

Infielders

  1. Ozzie Albies
  2. Johan Camargo
  3. Freddie Freeman
  4. Jack Mayfield
  5. Austin Riley
  6. Dansby Swanson
  7. *Ehire Adrianza
  8. *Bryce Ball
  9. *C.J. Alexander
  10. *Sean Kazmar
  11. *Jason Kipnis
  12. *Pablo Sandoval
  13. *Braden Shewmake

Outfielders

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr.
  2. Abraham Almonte
  3. Travis Demeritte
  4. Ender Inciarte
  5. Marcell Ozuna
  6. Cristian Pache
  7. *Justin Dean
  8. *Michael Harris II
  9. *Terone Harris (aka “Trey”)
  10. *Drew Waters

Catchers

  1. William Contreras
  2. Travis d’Arnaud
  3. Alex Jackson
  4. *Logan Brown
  5. *Shea Langeliers
  6. *Jonathan Morales

2021 Braves Spring Training Roster Predictions: The Locks

Starting Pitcher: Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Ian Anderson, Drew Smyly (1 spot available)

Relief Pitcher: Will Smith, Chris Martin, Tyler Matzek, Josh Tomlin, A.J. Minter (3 spots available)

Position Players: Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Dansby Swanson, Ronald Acuna Jr. Marcell Ozuna, Travis d’Arnaud (6 spots available)

Positions of Need

9, or maybe even 10 spots available…Wow. That’s lot of uncertainty for a team that has hopes of a World Series berth. Here are the needs as I see them:

  • Backup Catcher
  • Utilty Infielder
  • Starting Outfielder
  • Backup Outfielder
  • Bench Bat
  • Bench Bat
  • RH Relief Pitcher
  • RH Relief Pitcher
  • Relief Pitcher
  • Starting Pitcher

Braves Roster Talk: Starting Pitcher Candidates (1 available slot)

Breadown: The battle out the gate is likely between Bryse and Kyle with Bryse having the upper hand due to recency bias. Davidson comes in a distant 3rd, but I think the Braves will let him get some real seasoning at AAA before pulling him back up. Muller and Pfeifer both need time at AAA and Touki and Newk have a much better shot at the bullpen if they’re going to stay in this org. Ynoa’s chances would go up tremendously if any of the first 3 go down with injury.

Braves Roster Talk: Relief Pitcher Candidates (3 available slots)

Breakdown: With 3 lefties set to return and 1 long relief, lefties and long relief candidates take a hit here. And while I’d love for the young-uns listed here to be given a shot out the gate, I think Anthopoulos starts with giving a vet or 2 a shot then moves on quickly should they prove unworthy.

Braves Roster Talk: Catcher Candidates (1 available slot)

Breakdown: I don’t think the Braves are comfortable with giving any of these candidates the backup job on Opening day for differing reasons, but until Tyler Flowers signs a deal, I think this feels right. The Braves don’t have faith in Alex Jackson and it shows, but starting with William Contreras means he never got that full season of development at AAA. This is one that I think changes before Opening Day or maybe in the next day or 2.

Braves Roster Talk: Infield, Outfield, and Bench (6 available slots)

Breakdown: This is sad, but true. It feels like it’s either Camargo or Pablo, either Ehire or Mayfield, either Ender or Dean, either Almonte or Pache, and either Demeritte or Kipnis. I REALLY don’t like including Pache on this list, but he’d have to stay down until May 3rd in order to gain another year of control and I think the Braves might seriously consider that option. My gut tells me there’s more to add before this ends.

Thanks for reading 2021 Braves Spring Training Roster Talk. We’ll be back with Round 2 in a few weeks. If you aren’t aware of some of the players listed, catch up right here.

Author: Ryan Cothran

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

77 thoughts on “2021 Braves Spring Training Roster Talk”

  1. So on OD, this is probably your most likely bench, right?

    Camargo
    Mayfield
    Kipnis
    Panda
    Jackson

    When Pache is called up and Ender goes to bench:

    Ender
    Camargo
    Mayfield
    Kipnis
    Jackson

    This seems suboptimal, no?

  2. It seems that the Braves are either out of funds or trying to save money for a mid season acquisition. I cant believe how cheaply some of the players we could have used. Even the returns for some of the trades were light. I am not sure what the Braves are waiting on.

  3. I think unless Ender lights up Spring Training, we see Pache opening day. I also think Contreras is the back up.

  4. Thanks Rob! Sorry I’ve been a bit MIA lately. Between the Hammers orders, teaching, kids, and moving into a new home, free time has been hard to come by! Hopefully turning the corner soon!

  5. I’ve got a Curt Shilling autographed baseball I picked up at a charity event. I’m not too keen on owning it anymore and would gladly trade for something from a Braves player of my youth. Any collectors interested?

  6. @1 I’d rather see Demeritte instead of Mayfield. His fielding should be comparable and as flexible and has more of a shot to provide some pop off the bench. I think we could easily see Demeritte smacking around lesser pitching in ST. Ender is a given unless traded or released, but so many OF possibilities have signed elsewhere that it seems the Braves are committed to Ender. Ultimately the OF must include Pache even if it’s after the beginning of May.

  7. I’ll be honest — I literally have no earthly idea who “Jack Mayfield” is. He sounds like a guy on the Pirates in 2004, or a character in a straight-to-DVD action movie, or a 1930s boxer. Are we sure he’s a baseball player?

  8. To blazon, from yesterday.
    I took your crack as a challenge. Here (from Stathead) is the complete list of all 16 players in the HOF whose last season had a stint with the franchise, sorted by games played.
    https://stathead.com/tiny/9LUTn

    From your post, I’m not sure you meant to include Boston or Milwaukee. I presume you were referring to Babe Ruth, whose last at-bat came at the end of May and he then walked out: https://www.mlb.com/cut4/this-day-in-baseball-history-babe-ruth-plays-his-final-game-of-his-mlb-career-c2

    Niekro was obviously a special case, as his Braves return was just so he could then retire. Others, like Chipper and Ted Simmons, put in full seasons. Most of the others played into September, even if sparingly, like Maranville.

    But my lesson, dear blazon, is that Stathead, while it can’t exactly answer your question, can bound an answer pretty damn quickly, at which point you can use judgment and further research.

  9. Melancons contract is 2M with a 1M buyout of 2022……that seems cheap.

    I mean, I was never REALLY confident when he came in, but I would have taken a chance on him at this salary.

  10. Does Demeritte have any platoon advantages? He’s got good power, good speed, and can play all over the yard. He’s had as many as 17 SBs in a minor league season. Could he be pinch hitter against LHP, pinch runner, and spot starter at second base and the corner outfield spots? I know he was old for the level (24 years old), and it was the year that everyone was hitting home runs at Gwinnett, but he absolutely mashed AAA in 2019 (.286/.387/.558) in 399 PAs. I’d love to see some of that translate.

  11. Yeah, that story @13 should put every organization in baseball on notice to clean house. I can’t believe that the other 29 teams are pure as the driven snow.

  12. I knew the Braves bench situation was bad but I didn’t know if was this bad until your post. Hopefully they will get another bat from somewhere. Aren’t there still quite a few decent free agents still available due to owners sitting back and waiting with all the stuff going on with Covid.

  13. Wow, Melancon signed for $3 million. I don’t think the dude is elite, but damn, for that price he’s a great middle-of-the-bullpen piece.

    Heck, Atlanta paid him $14 million last year (I know it was pro-rated).

  14. @15: ahem…
    Here was your question: “Glavine’s unfortunately messy departure from the Braves calls to mind another HOFamer who simply got fed up, bored with the whole thing and drove out of town mid his last season, never to return, without as much as a bye bye.”

    I think Ruth fits your description much better than Griffey, especially since, per the NY Times, Junior issued this bye-bye: ““I’d like to thank my family for all of the sacrifices they have made all of these years for me,” Griffey said in a statement. “I’d like to thank the Seattle Mariners organization for allowing me to finish my playing career where it started. I look forward to a continued, meaningful relationship with them for many years to come.” https://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/sports/baseball/03griffey.html

    That said, I did think you were referring to a Braves player (although his dad played for the Braves.) If I alter the Stathead request above to include any franchise, we find literally dozens of HOFers who had truncated last seasons. What makes Junior’s departure any different than, say, Yogi Berra? I’m interested. https://stathead.com/tiny/Vyeq8

  15. @11 – I don’t know anything about Harold Ramirez, but I’m sure the Braves scouts have a strong opinion on him. With 10 at bats in 2020 there are no conclusions that can really be drawn from last year. His 2019 stats point to a slightly below average outfielder, but he was only 24. His minor league stats don’t point to anything special, so I think we can do a lot better – at least I hope so.

  16. THIS IS AWESOME.

    I want everyone in baseball to applaud this as loudly as possible. This is the best thing in the world. No player is more fun than Fernando Tatis Jr.

  17. Eric Longenhagen posted his top prospect list — it’s called a top 100 but he actually ranks his top 133.

    The Braves have three prospects on the list: #8 Pache, #13 Anderson, and #47 Waters. Three in the top 50 is great, but zero from 50-133 indicates that our system is pretty top-heavy, and all the rest of the talent is a long ways away.

    Specifically on Langeliers and Contreras, in his chat today, Longenhagen said that he doubts Langeliers can hit enough, and that in his conversations on Contreras, he consistently heard people saying they thought he should be ranked lower, and that’s why both missed the list.

    https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2021-top-100-prospects/
    https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2021-top-100-prospects-chat/

  18. @24: I have a hard time feeling sorry for anyone who will become one of the richest people to ever walk the planet, which Acuña will become. If he’s smart, his money will last generations.

    And nobody forced Acuña to sign on the dotted line.

    But just the scale of FTJr’s deal makes me think Acuña made a slightly bad decision.

    On the other hand, San Diego is taking quite a large risk as FTJr has less than 162 under his belt.

    Hopefully Ronald becomes so good that the contract becomes untenable and has to be reworked for more dollars.

  19. @23
    Braves system is going to surprise Eric this season. People are sleeping on 4-5 guys and they’ll be woke come July when the midseason reports come out.

  20. Acuna’s contract will be toast by June at the latest c/with mumbled apologies and ‘now please have a look at this one’ …watch the K’s decline*, he’ll be -mostly – happy…mostly because they should never have tried it on in the first place…the Players Union should also be ashamed they did nothing to stand up for one so young and innocent of business dealings involving contracts of that length

    sdp…it is quite irrelevant that Acuna will become rich…what is he/was he worth? As for the old adage ‘nobody forced him’ there was some real concern at the time he may have been ill advised by his agents, anxious for an early dip into the pot.

    Now, where does this leave Ozzie?!

    Ever been in a job where you came to realize you were underpaid for your market value? How did that affect your daily work? Watch those K’s, we are all human!

  21. I always find it fascinating to compare the lists, as it’s very clear that some guys have a preference for a higher floor (like Langeliers), some have a preference for a higher ceiling (like Waters) and the way they mix ceiling, floor, and likelihood to max out potential is all somewhat distinct. But Longenhagen is very smart and the fact that he thinks Pache, Anderson, and Waters are all that good is a really good sign. I think it’s very likely that a lot of our guys will take a big step forward this year, assuming we get to have a near-full minor league season, but — that’s why they play the games.

    God, I can’t wait till we get baseball back!

  22. I’m struggling with the prospect lists this year. Without a visible minor league season, I just don’t know how well these prospect guys are truly able to see guys that would be entering the rankings after a strong previous season. I think Ryan is right that there are a few guys taken in the 2018 and 2019 drafts that had they had a strong and visible 2020 season that they’d be on the rankings. How can the prospects be so confident in the intel they have, though I do recognize that the show must go on in ranking prospects every offseason.

  23. Happy for Tatis, Jr. But why does that mean Acuna got hosed? Who’s to say we don’t see huge inflation in MLB salaries, and Acuna being ready for free agency at age 29 means he makes a lot more money in the long run? In 2035, since I’m sure we’ll all be here still, I will bet you a cornbeef sandwich today that Acuna will have made more money than Tatis, Jr.

    “Siri, remind me on February 18th, 2035 to check career earnings for Ronald Acuna Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. so I can tell Braves Journal to suck it and get a free cornbeef sandwich.”

  24. @31, I think they’re very aware of that and if I recall, both Law and Longenhagen speak to that — no one was able to see anything this year because teams literally banned scouts from the alternate sites. So 2020 is almost entirely a black box and it was a lost year for nearly everybody.

  25. I’m with Rob on the Acuna contract. No one took advantage of him. He signed the 1st ever $100 million contract for a 21 yr old. The MLBPA approved the contract so it’s not like a greedy agent took advantage of him or he had less than adequate representation. The association thought it was a good precedent setting deal. Acuna will end his age 28 season a free agent if he wants. Plenty of opportunity to get another record contract and he will already be assured of making $100 million plus and be set for life even if injury or something ends his career. Good for Tatis but it’s also worth noting Tatis is a year older getting his big contract than was Acuna.

  26. The value to the team for the Acuna and Ozzie contracts should only matter to us fans IF the money “saved” is then spent on acquiring more talent.

    If paying Acuna below market rate just means they field the same team for $140 million instead of $160 million then color me unimpressed.

  27. StirrIng the pot for Tfloyd, AAR and the gang. The right side of our infield is substandard though both players would strengthen the bench should better options become available to start.

  28. I’ve been with coop on Dansby, but he’s 27 and should be near his peak now, so I would not like to give up on that. And I still think Riley is going to break through.

  29. Would be interesting to see a poll on here of what Braves Journalers think Riley will triple slash this year.

    Something like, Austin Riley’s 2021 will look most like:
    A) .290/.360/.550
    B) .265/.330/.475
    C) .240/.300/.450
    D) .220/.280/.400

  30. B) is basically a stock Mike Moustakas season. If Riley did that, I think everybody would be thrilled. Would definitely fall on the “over” side of all the projections.

    C) is pretty much Riley’s major league line so far, with a little growth. That’s still the line of a below average hitter at a position where offense is expected.

  31. I appreciate Chief’s precision on Riley’s batting average. Now, for his next miracle, he is going to tell us which month that a bloop single will evade the grasp of the diving second baseman, cementing the .253 batting average and not .255 or .250. Chief Nocstradamus reporting for duty.

  32. Hope everyone is preparing themselves for the day Acuna and Albies hold out for renegotiation, because it will absolutely happen. I give it two years of conversations at second base where Tatis offers to buy them dinner….

  33. I think if players can say “I ought to make more than what I agreed to” then a fair standard would have teams say, “you aren’t that good and we aren’t paying that.”

    I would not be a fan of a team that acted stupidly. There is enough stupid in the world already.

    There is nothing immoral about a major league baseball team making an offer to a player. The player has to also accept. It is a major concession for a team to do an extremely long contract of a “no cut” or “guaranteed” nature. That is even more difficult for pitchers. It is not certain that players on a high level in their early 20’s will be even effective performers in their 30’s. Andruw Jones? Grady Sizemore? Joe Charbonneau? Tony Conigliaro?.

    I see the Tatis agreement as near the 50 / 50 line on odds. But there are so many variables. Health. Revenue. Team overall talent (commit 30 million to one player when you are looking at 95 losses?).

  34. As to coop’s concerns about the left side of the infield, I’m a lot more bullish on Lt Dans than coop (who isn’t?). After his brief very good showing in 2016 and his horrific 2017, he’s made steady progress. I know he fell off a cliff in the second half of 2019 due to injury, but his first half in 2019 and last year’s abbreviated season were quite good. I think an .800 OPS is now a reasonable baseline assumption–and he could break out to be better than that. For a good fielding shortstop, that is excellent.

    As to Riley, though, I’m more bearish. His ceiling is very high, but he has yet to show that he can ever approach that on a regular basis. I have hopes, but not as much confidence. If he has the “B” season discussed above, we should all be thrilled.

  35. If I’m the Braves, Soroka has firm instructions to jog out of the box while batting, and only 75% effort on plays at first.

  36. @51 Very much so. While I understand there is a structure in place to reduce at the margins the likelihood of bad advice or poor negotiation skills, mistakes do happen — and it’s not the vested interest of management to correct them on behalf of the player in the moment. And as long as the final approval on the player’s end rests with the player, well, who among us at that age was prepared for it? The notion that they should be grateful, while in the sense they get paid a whole lot to play baseball is certainly true, doesn’t hold much water when they compare notes with their peers. They’ll know who makes how much more than they do, if for no other reason than people will be in their ear about it. Eventually there will be trouble, unless it is resolved by proactive renegotiation (which can and does happen with franchise cornerstone-type players, with positive PR for all parties involved). But the fact that any possible renegotiation will begin from a significantly below-market starting point increases the likelihood that the player will leverage his willingness to play. So don’t get too attached to those lucky stars that their contracts currently represent, is all I’m saying.

  37. I’m between C and D. I’m having trouble fundamentally believing he can keep his OBP above .300.

    And I have to say, it is a funny kind of feeling being more bearish about a guy than Chief. I’d love to be wrong, is all I’ll say. But if you can’t hit a fastball, you ain’t gonna last in this league.

  38. @52 I agree with your view of the Tatis contract. Any player who agrees to a long contract gives up potential money should they perform at the best of their ability, but 14 years is SO long a guarantee that it winds back around to being a fair deal IMO.

  39. Tatis is “only” making $25M per for the life of the deal. If he stays healthy and productive, he’ll be worth $100M+ more over the life of the deal. He’ll also make a guaranteed $340M if he never steps back into the batter’s box. Hard to see who’s not getting a good deal here. Really good risk-sharing here.

  40. Remind me again about the last division title San Diego has won. How many rebuilds have they been through in the last 15 years? Sorry, but I don’t know if a 14 year contract for 340 million dollars is going to get them a whole lot closer to a world series without getting several other players. I think I like Atlanta’s model a lot better.

  41. Just having the best player in baseball doesn’t guarantee you’ll win any titles. But bringing up one of the best players in baseball from your farm system and then giving him a boatload of money is a strategy I’m foursquare behind.

  42. At least for the Padres it marks a departure from their usual strategy of assembling second- and third-tier veterans at the end of their prime.

  43. I think we’ll know early on about Riley. If he’s diving at sliders or late on fastballs, it’ll show that he can adjust to both and one way or the other, will get exploited.

  44. @64 – The Mets have been consistently improving their team for the last six years. Similar to the Padres, remind me again of how many division and world series titles they’ve won during that time frame. The Braves way is far from perfect but it’s 100x better than the Mets until proven differently.

  45. I’m in agreement on the question of Riley – somewhere between B and C.

    On the Tatis deal, I am certainly happy for him. That said, my first thought was…woah! That is a major investment over many years on a young, surely talented, but as yet fully proven player. It could be a major huge deal for them reaping many rewards, but it could also become an albatross in a few years time. Long term, the payout may not seem like much as salaries go up over 14 years, but their payroll has not only his but Machado and much else. I applaud going all in. But as stated, I prefer the AA way for the moment. If the Padres win a WS in a year or two and we don’t sniff it, I reserve the right to change my mind. ;)

  46. NY Metropolitans
    Mets fans are excited because, in Cohen, they believe they finally have their version of George Steinbrenner – but more money/less intrusion. Around here, the optimism isn’t exactly guarded… typical Mets fans.

    Nonetheless, the Mets should def be better. While I don’t find them exactly terrifying, IMO, as long as Carrasco’s arm stays attached & Syndergaard contributes, the rotation could be formidable… we’ll see – something always seems to happen to that club. I mean, they just signed Taijuan Walker, who is definitely good at getting hurt.

    The lineup should at least border on imposing, but the defense at 1B, CF, LF, RF & anywhere they put McNeil is shaky at best. Biggest upgrade, of course: Lindor replaces Rosario at SS.

    FWIW, between Marcel Ozuna & J.D. Davis, the Braves & the Mets might compete for worst defensive LFs in the game. Probably not such a big deal, but might make for an amusing compilation video.

  47. Riley having a B season vs C season makes a huge difference to this lineup. As constructed, he’ll be asked to hit 6th or 7th. If the C or D season shows up, that’s a problem.

  48. So, I didn’t really notice this because we were in the middle of a pandemic, but Julio Teheran had an absolutely abysmal year last year, and couldn’t even get a major league contract. So he signed this evening with the Tigers on a minor league deal. Of course, if he’s healthy and remotely close to his career levels, he will have no problems getting a rotation spot. But it was a little surprising to see just how far he had fallen and just one year.

  49. It appears the good Lord is shining on the Copenhaver’s. Since Covid, my wife has worked 6-7 days a week down in Sarasota doing Covid testing. The contract calls for mandatory 7 days a week, and since she was in nurse practitioner school clinicals when Covid hit and she lost them, she pretty much had no choice but to do the 7 days a week thing or she’d have nothing to do. So anything during the day pretty much any day of the week is out of the question. But there’s a 6PM game (after work) in Sarasota against the O’s five minutes from her site, and I just snagged some tickets when they went on sale this morning at 10AM. I have tickets to an actual major league baseball game, and my wife can actually go with me! Hell yeah!

  50. That’s awesome, Rob! So glad she’s hanging in there. Thank God for all the work she’s doing.

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