2021 Braves Spring Training Roster Talk, Number 2

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Prior to Spring Training, I released the first Spring Training Roster Talk, of which listed all of the players that would be participating in Spring Training. Since then, we’ve seen 2 subtractions, freshly released Jason Creasy and DFA’d Jack Mayfield, who was then traded to the Angels. Phil Pfeifer was also designated for assignment, however his spring training invite is still intact as he went unclaimed and is back with the team.

Notable additions since our last talk includes Jake Lamb, Guillermo Heredia, and Phillip Ervin. With the additions of 3 players and the subtraction of 2, and a few spring training games under the belt, let’s take a look at the changes, however let’s remind you of the assumptions made that still stand true:

  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, 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. *Carl Edwards Jr.
  28. *Daysbel Hernandez
  29. *Kurt Hoekstra
  30. *Connor Johnstone
  31. *Nate Jones
  32. *Nolan Kingham
  33. *Freddy Tarnok
  34. *Victor Vodnik
  35. *William Woods

INFIELDERS

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

OUTFIELDERS

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr.
  2. Abraham Almonte
  3. Travis Demeritte
  4. Ender Inciarte
  5. Marcell Ozuna
  6. Cristian Pache
  7. Phillip Ervin
  8. *Justin Dean
  9. *Michael Harris
  10. *Trey Harris
  11. *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

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: Kyle Wright didn’t do himself any favors in his first start of the spring and news breaking that Huascar Ynoa is being given a chance to start is certainly worth noting, and he looked REALLY good in Monday’s outing. Also, word came out after the first spring training game that Sean Newcomb isn’t being stretched out and is going to be fighting for a bullpen spot in 2021, so he’ll be removed here. Things alter here should Braves start the year with a 6-man rotation.

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

Breakdown: Ynoa’s chances go up here because he could be the 2nd long man in the bullpen. Carl Edwards Jr. had a good outing and already looks to project as the best righty in the bullpen should he be able to stay healthy. Arano is still out with visa issues and both Weigel and Newcomb looked rough in their first outing, so % goes down for all 3. Touki looked unhittable his first inning on Monday then fell apart in the 2nd. For the life of me, I don’t understand why the Braves won’t just make him a 1-inning reliever and be done with it.

Braves Roster Talk: Catcher Candidates (1 available slot)

Breakdown: Some inside info…the Braves offered Tyler Flowers a contract, but he wasn’t too fond of the offer so he didn’t take it. I don’t know the offer, but it affirms my assumption that the Braves aren’t really comfortable with their backup catcher at this point. Langeliers gunned a runner down in the first spring training game, but I still think he starts at AAA. Contreras looked really good at the plate and I’m giving him the edge in the 2-man battle.

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

Breakdown: With both Lamb and Ervin showing well early, I think it’s safe to say that they’re the favorites for now to cover the bench. For me, it feels like Kipnis, Contreras, and Camargo will hold down the other 3 spots unless there’s a roster addition.

Thanks for reading Braves Spring Training Roster Talk. If you’re curious, this adjustment from William Contreras has been the secret to his success and why I think he’s ready for the MLB now.

Author: Ryan Cothran

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

37 thoughts on “2021 Braves Spring Training Roster Talk, Number 2”

  1. Nice. Thanks Ryan. Agreed on all except for maybe Touki. If they give him a legitimate shot to earn a job in the pen, I think he could get it, but I don’t know if they will.

  2. Great read. My only disagreement is that I would make the chances for Touki and Newcomb much closer to even. I’ve seen too many dominating Touki outings followed by where’s the plate Touki outings.

  3. There’s a great article over at FanGraphs today on Jason Heyward and his batting profile throughout the years. It interested me in getting the opinion of folks on here.

    When Heyward came up as a rookie I remember being most exited about his patience and batting eye. Now, I personally value plate discipline above all other position-player skills, so naturally this was a welcome sight. That his debut came on the heels of watching the previous franchise savior swing at goddam everything only boosted my feelings.

    So my question to you, dear weblog commenter, is “What Happened?” A decade later, I’m really not sure I remember. I recall Heyward’s swing getting uglier and a pretty obvious up-and-in hole in his later Braves years. But did we ever get the whole story?

  4. My own personal take dovetails very well with the narrative in that piece — the Braves wanted more homers so they got him to sell out for power, and it all got screwed up from there.

  5. Me, in the offseason: “Left field defense is unimportant.”

    Me, after watching Acuna light up JD Martinez: “…so…umm…..hey, look over there, a squirrel!”

  6. My theory is that the mental aftermath of the HBP broken face he suffered in 2013 interfered with his still-developing (and already suspect) swing mechanics. The 2011 HBP broken thumb and the weeks he spent trying play through the injury probably didn’t help, either.

  7. I blame the back/shoulder injury of 2011. He could hit for average and power up to that point but had to settle for one or the other afterwards. The Braves choose power while the Cards asked him to hit for average while hoping he would golf a low-and-in slider once every two weeks. The Cards are smart! In Chicago he has reverted to his pull-happy-power-hitter-without-power self.

    Board note: my mother in law died over the weekend so as I am no longer a full time caregiver I will have more time for you guys, except it’s tax season and I’m still an accountant…

  8. She was 93 and had a good run at life. In the grand scheme of things, her balance sheet was in the black.

  9. Snowshine, loss is tough. Sorry, my man. Hopefully this is the year we can make a game happen.

  10. Guys, this has to be the year we make the Braves Journal game happen. There’s pent up demand, new(ish) stadium, we’re a World Series contender, and we’ve never done it. If we say some game on the weekend in June or July (or both!), I think enough people would be able to make it to make it fun.

    There are too many to count, so I wouldn’t want to even try, but there are many Braves Journal folk I’d like to meet. I’ve met ububba and whatever Jonathan Hyde calls himself on here in person. Would love to meet everyone else.

  11. I owe the Patreon crew a game but I cannot imagine we can get tickets for a large group unless they lift the 25% limit. However, a loose date of June 5th, a weekend game against the Dodgers, sure would be fun.

  12. That would be fun, and I’d be interested. Or the June 17-19th weekend against the Cardinals would be great too.

    Also, if people want to turn it into a July 4th family weekend, the Marlins are in town that weekend. I know I’ll be in nearby Blairsville that weekend.

    If you’re worried about seat capacity and pricing, the weekday games would probably be better options.

  13. I may be going to Braves/Red Sox at Fenway so y’all are welcome to come up.

  14. @3 Heyward is one of those cases that will go down in my memory in infamy even though I realize the player in question isn’t the problem. My hang up most likely has to do with the hype campaign that led Heyward’s introduction. We heard so much about the sound of his bat striking a ball and even got to witness it and hear it in a game… I thought this guy was going to be Albert Belle.

    The reality is that young Jason Heyward was a 5-tool prospect. He could cover a ton of outfield. He had the arm to gun down any runner headed for home. He could hit for average and hit for power, and his plate discipline was advanced and mature. What wasn’t 5 star about this kid? Nothing.

    But he was not Albert Belle, and my problems grew out of a discontent with his hitting struggles plus the entourage of saber-driven Braves fans who loved the crap out of this guy. I began to blame WAR for propping up an all-star who couldn’t hit a baseball out of a soggy paper bag. As his power disappeared, I really soured, and then he left for big money even though he was a merely adequate bat. He was far from being a star in my then-ignorant-opinion.

    The team did him a disservice selling him as this slugger whose bat sound was unparalleled. As for what happened to his swing over time, it will have to be chalked up to physical injury and mental chaos. I have taken a couple of line drives to the face while pitching as a youth, and I don’t think those events ever totally go away. I can’t even begin to relate with a guy like Heyward because I at least partially deflected those hits and the worst I suffered was some fat lips.

  15. Thus far Luke Jackson and Johan Camargo have not turned back into their 2018 or 2019 versions.

  16. @20 – I hear you, DS. Although I think that in that first year, the ball DID jump off his bat and the plate discipline was excellent. That’s the part I still don’t get. Injuries can sap power, yes, but I swear his batting eye got worse through his Atlanta years. As others mentioned, this may have been an approach driven by the organization that backfired.

    The WAR love and defense is a nuanced criticism. I personally agree with the accolades his defense received and can understand why a calculation like WAR focusing on overall VALUE would reflect that. What never felt right to me was that a player at a premium offensive position (RF) would get so much of his value from defense. It’s more of a roster construction issue for me.

    I think of it this way – Over the course of a 162-game season, the cumulative defensive contributions add up and help win more games. So a Player A (defensive whiz with iffy bat) may be of equal value to Player B (masher with concrete glove). BUT, when it comes to a line-up/batting order I want to see in the post-season, give me the bat-first player EVERY TIME. For one thing, the opposing pitching is better and I believe the dropoff against elite pitching isn’t linear for all hitters. Also, you’re pretty much guaranteed 4+ at bat’s in a game, while there is no guarantee your right fielder even has to move his feet.

  17. Defensive WAR certainly does seem to favor some positions more than others, and it does appear to love outfield range even at the corners.

    I wonder if Braves Journal could get Tyler Flowers to share with us the wondrous powers of pitch framing?? I’d love to get some insights from a catcher who is reportedly among the best at it. I always have wondered how pitchers feel about it. I feel like it becomes more challenging to hit a spot since the glove is moving.

  18. @ 25,

    And the fact that essentially all ML Front Offices seem to value defense similar to the average of the various defensive metrics (although slightly lower), and value framing at almost full value (all of this verifiable by the last 5 years of trade and free agency data) just doesn’t mean anything, does it?

    Those people’s careers are based on delivering the most wins for the least dollars. They spend hours analyzing film and data. They see what the teams that win do and what the teams that lose do. I want my team to NOT use the chief method.

  19. @27: It’s an interesting point, cliff, but there’s at least potentially some circularity there, and a bit of the Winner’s Curse, in that the people most willing to pay for someone are the people who value them most highly (and in error) and that the new defensive metrics may partly reset the market. I don’t think the last word on Player Value has been written yet. But you’re right about the incentives.

    Oh, and I’ve been away for a few days…. Keep me on the outing list and condolences, Snowshine.

  20. 9 Gorman Thomases will destroy 9 Kevin Kiermayers.

    9 Derek Jeters will destroy 9 Ozzie Smiths.

    Defense matters at the margins. If its terrible (which IMO matters less than even many think at the MLB level, IMO the lower you go downward to tee ball the more it matters) or if it is generationally good.

    IMO defensive performance has to be generationally good to even matter positively, very much. For players like Andrelton Simmons, Andruw, Paul Blair, their defense mattered. The difference between non-generational fielding talents and the worst fielder at their position is way too small to make much difference. The history of baseball proves this out. Quick, name the 2nd best fielder at every position. Then name the 2nd best hitter at each position.

    For someone like Ender Enciarte vs what Jay Bruce would have fielded in the same number of innings in CF, nope. Not a bit.

    The Braves won their division last season with a statue in LF who’s arm is weaker than mine was in 13 year old all-stars. (BTW, I was hit in the back in an all-star game by none other than Tim Hudson. He’s less than a month older than I) They just paid him handsomely to do it again.

  21. There will likely always be some component of a WIN going at a discount especially as the game changes and adapts. Some GMs are really attentive and notice these trends before they “become a thing.”

    I like to think AA is one of those GMs. If he hits the bullseye with Smyly, then we’ll know that he has some particular tools and insights into finding players who are capable of putting it all together (TdA last season).

  22. First round of vintage Hammers Tees went out today. The next will go out next week. Shoot me an email if interested.

  23. I know it is just Spring Training but Sobotka is in mid season form already… Get the first two hitters, issue a walk and a then a two run shot.

  24. @33 It takes both skill and a lot of ego to tease a fan base like that. Going to have to change his nickname to Honey Badger, because he don’t care.

  25. When you’re facing a team as dangerous as the Pirates, sometimes you’ve just got to tip your cap.

  26. @35 – Fully agreed. 5 strikeouts in 2 innings should be expected when you are facing the dynamic duo of David Bednar and Sam Howard. Cap tips all around.

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