Anthopoulos Showing His Hand and Roster Moves Coming

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Yesterday, Alex Anthopolous made his first move of the offseason, signing Manny Piña, backup catcher, to a 2 year $8MM deal with a $4MM club option. For most Braves fans, this doesn’t come as a surprise as the catching position was a bloody nightmare last year as the Braves employed 7 different catchers. It’s obvious the Braves trust veteran catchers to run a staff and AA solidified that with Piña as backup. Piña showed above average framing last year and hit LHP really well (.854 OPS) so there’s a lot to like. Truly, Anthopoulos likely picked the best of the free agent catcher left on the market and I sure do feel sorry for the rest of the teams in the market, but the question that is likely on everyone’s mind is, “What does this mean for William Contreras?”.

William Contreras, to Trade or Let Marinate?

Let’s get one thing out of the way. Contreras can hit. He chased a lot last year after his initial taste of 2021, but let it be known he’d have adjusted and come out on the better end if he were given a chance. Unfortunately, he was so bad behind the plate that the chance never came. The hit tool has always been there and Contreras is athletic enough to play a corner OF or 1B, but if those words start making its way into the conversation that means one thing: the team isn’t comfortable with him behind the plate. For me, having Travis d’Arnaud and Manny Piña behind the plate for ’22 and ’23 likely means we’ve seen the last of William Contreras and I fully expect him to be shopped this offseason.

More Roster Moves to Come

This Friday marks the last day for players to be added to the 40-man Roster to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft. The Braves have a HUGE list of guys this year and I’d bet good $ that someone gets claimed. Here’s the full list:

The Braves have some roster flexibility as guys like Sean Newcomb, Yoan Lopez, Alan Rangel, Richard Rodriguez, Chadwick Tromp, Travis Demeritte, Guillermo Heredia, Orlando Arcia, and Johan Camargo could be removed from the 40-man, but the list above have some HUGE names that need consideration and not all of them will get it. Here are my thoughts heading into Friday

The No-Brainer Additions: Freddy Tarnok, Drew Waters

The Likely Additions: William Woods, Brooks Wilson

The Fence Straddlers: Daysbel Hernandez, Brandon S. White, Thomas Burrows, Drew Lugbauer, Corbin Clouse, Jake Higginbotham

The Unlikely: Connor Johnstone, C.J. Alexander, Troy Bacon, Greyson Jenista, Justin Dean, Trey Harris, Nolan Kingham, Hayden Deal, Jeffry Ramos, and rest of list.

Breakdown: I fully expect Woods or Wilson to get claimed and thrown on someone’s roster should Braves not protect them. Some of the fence straddlers could also be picked up by other teams, but placing someone like Lugbauer on a MLB roster isn’t likely to go well. When looking at the fence straddlers, it’s easier to visualize a reliever getting grabbed. The unlikely group are unlikely to be protected and it’s almost 100% that they wouldn’t get grabbed if left exposed.

Author: Ryan Cothran

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

33 thoughts on “Anthopoulos Showing His Hand and Roster Moves Coming”

  1. MLB.com seemed to think Justin Dean’s speed would get him grabbed and put him at the top of the fence-straddler list.

    A catcher is a good position to have someone to dangle in a trade. That may be why Duvall was so available to us (of all teams) – because we made Jackson available. I’m wondering if AA is already working on something that made bringing in a backup catcher more reasonable. For all you dreamers, maybe a trade for a CF. There’s no way we would give enough to get Reynolds but Buxton could be a possibility.

    I’m still good if we can bring three of our four OFs back (Duvall, Soler, Rosario). I’m not that concerned about having a “true CF”. We are developing three CFs right now (Pache, Waters, Harris) and trading one or two of them might net us something good along with Contreras. Sign the current guys for two years and by then one of our internal options should show up.

    Thor just signed with the Angels. Now we don’t have to see him in the division.

  2. We should be able to get Buxton for something like Contreras and Pache. Might be able to replace one of those two with someone like Rich Rod and/or another pitcher type that’s not too valuable. Looked at Pache and Rich Rod and another prospect (e.g. Dean?) and it is pretty close.

    @2 And that makes Contreras all the more appealing to the world.

  3. Buxton is more like a one-month rental, before his inevitable season-ending injury.

  4. I have always been a fan of Brandon S. White only because he was drafted by accident. Hope he doesn’t get claimed.

    Thanks for the rundown.

    @5 Sure we can. AA knows exactly how much he can pay FF. He can’ sit around and wait for all of the other good free agents to get signed.

  5. @2 Contreras plus one of the young pitchers for Sonny Gray plus a reliever. Stay away from overpaying for old, injured pitchers.

  6. @4 Based upon estimated trade value at the the trade simulator site. Contreras AND Pache would be straight up for Buxton.

    @9 Gray’s trade value is twice Buxton’s. That trade is nowhere near close to what it would take. I would rather us leverage our existing internal options to fill out the rotation. If we need someone like Gray, we can pick him up at the deadline.

  7. I don’t want another SP. I’d rather just re-sign Drew Smyly ::ducks::. We have enough arms in the rotation that IF Soroka can come back healthy, we are absolutely loaded.

    And as much as I am a Kyle Wright hater, he did show some stuff in the playoffs that maybe means he should get a second (third? Fourth?) look.

  8. @11 I’m not a big fan of getting another starter either but i would rather trade for someone like Gray than overpay for an injured Verlander. 2nd choice would be signing an elite starter like Stroman.

    @10 I pay no attention to that trade simulator nonsense. It rarely is correct when trades are actually made. Gray has been in a slight decline since his outstanding 2019. His FIP last year was 3.99 with 135 innings pitched (2.4 WAR). Good, but not outstanding. Also, I didn’t say Contreras alone. I said Contreras AND a young pitcher. Maybe two young pitchers. Contreras, Wright and Davidson. Adding a good RH reliever would even it out. That seems like too much to me but Gray has a team friendly deal. Buxton has one more year left and is injured constantly. No thanks. Just sign Marte rather than give up good young players for another constantly injured rental.

  9. Contreras is listed at 6 feet, so is anyone likely to think he can play 1B? I can’t think of too many 1Bs who are shorter than 6’3″, and I assume a few extra inches of height plus an extra inch or so of arm length make a pretty significant difference in the number of throws a player can catch while keeping his foot on the base. Over the years I remember Freddie stretching all out for lots of hard-but-not-perfectly-on-target throws from Andrelton, and more recently from Dansby and Riley.

    Buxton certainly looks attractive in some respects (29 SB/1 CS one year and .647 slugging last year is a combination that brings to mind prime Barry Bonds, Eric Davis, and not too many other players), but I’d hate to depend on him for more than a month. He’s only played 100 games in a season once in his 7 years in the league, and last year was his first OBP over .314. Maybe he’s young Eric Davis without the walks and with more injuries than even old Eric Davis. Still, last year’s 171 OPS+ and what looks like good CF defense would be nice to have. My ideal scenario for him would be for the Twins to botch trade negotiations this winter and have to deal him at the trade deadline for less, maybe after he’s rested up on the IL for a month. Love to have him for the stretch run & postseason if he’s healthy.

  10. OK, Contreras at 1B wouldn’t be as unusual as I had thought. I looked at each team’s primary 2021 1B on BRef (Rizzo counted for the Cubs and Yankees, but whatever). Average height was 6’2.4″, and 9 of the 29 (or 30) were 6’1″ or shorter. Two, KC’s Carlos Santana and Seattle’s Ty France, were listed at 5’11”. So, assuming the listed heights are reasonably accurate, Contreras would definitely be shorter than average, but not the shortest in the league.

  11. @17 LOL, agreed. I don’t particularly want to get a SP or a CF. I’d like to trade our ready prospects for better prospects (especially IF types) who can provide depth in the minors especially when Dansby hits FA. He’s likely to be more expensive than he’s worth at some point considering he may get $9M plus in arbitration this year. Dansby and Ozzie have been pretty reliable and healthy, but we have so little depth behind them.

    I’ve said it before but our SP depth is fine. If we re-sign some or most of our OF acquisitions along with Freddie then the lineup is fine (as well as DH). With Pina onboard, catcher should be fine. At best, another solid RH reliever and some bench help. With all of that, we’ll be well over $160M or $170M. Trades should improve the farm system for width and depth. So far, all of the trades proposed just increase the payroll more. We have a few OF and pitchers developing well in the system and Langeliers at C. The best IF we have coming is Grissom and he’s quite a ways away. I’m not sure I buy Shewmake as a potential Dansby replacement. If either Dansby or Ozzie get injured, we are screwed. We don’t have any corner IF depth at all (Camargo or Lugbauer?).

  12. Hello everyone

    Apologies for the break in transmission from across the pond (as it were) but we’ve been away for a couple of breaks and I also find myself looking for some sort of gainful employment… Full discretion, I have engineered my departure from previous job and got paid off to leave. I do, however, as my wife is fond of pointing out, do still need to get re-employed at some point. So in that vein

    @14 – like that a lot

    Previously promised musical recaps to follow in due course

    And how long does AA get to play with the house money?

  13. After winning yet another world series, the hot stove is my favorite season of the year. I like that AA keeps his cards close to his chest; but dang, I sure would like to know with whom he’s burning up the phone lines. Come on, AA, give me a peek.

    If money is of no concern, (1) give Freddie six years @ $27.5 million per. It’s only money, and it’s not mine.

    (2) Sign Max Scherzer for three years @ $40 million per. Still not my money.

    (3) Resign Soler, Rosario and Duval. Find a couple of steady and stellar relievers, and give everybody else a big raise.

    Be grateful. Love one another. Go Braves.

  14. @21 Scherzer refused a trade to the Braves this year so he wouldn’t come here…..not that the Braves would pay him that much.

  15. Do we know why he refused the trade to Atlanta, though? Did he ever give a reason?

  16. @24 I never did hear why. It could be that he didn’t think the Braves had a shot at a deep playoff run.

  17. Baseball America released the preseason Braves top prospects and we have some movement.

    Harris
    Langeliers
    Pache
    Muller
    Strider
    Waters
    Skewmake
    Elder
    Cusick
    Jesse Franklin

    I think I’m most surprised by Jesse Franklin.

  18. @25

    I’d like a list of all the players who refused to sign with us or be traded to us last year because they didn’t think we were built for the playoffs so I can laugh hysterically at them for awhile.

  19. Forget Contreras, at any height. Times up, he’s already had an extended WS uniformed exposure for the cameras that will be embellished in the family photo album over the decades. Trade now.

    I like the Slugbear. Nicely muscled with pretensions of pop. But can he dig those dipping 99mph lefty throws out of the dirt like our revered present occupant?

  20. Freddie called. Divide thirty by five, the rest hardly matters. Like the rest of us he will cosset that last extra year, the burning Broadway lights before they are dimmed for him. Sic transit gloria.

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