When the Braves started to reboot last season, many believed that the Braves’ move to Suntrust park in 2017 would set the timetable for when the team planned on being competitive. Though we should see the team gradually improve over the next few seasons, with the trading of Shelby Miller and Andrelton Simmons, the team may have delayed that timetable for one more season. However, that is okay. The future looks as bright as ever for the Braves, and one could make the case that the team has the best farm system in baseball. They also have a ton of money to spend in the coming years. John Hart said it himself, young talent and money is a dangerous combination. Let’s take a look at how good this team could actually be in a few seasons when they’re expected to be contenders.
The Braves are absolutely stacked with arms, and come 2018 they will likely have flipped many of them for bats. These are the guys I think make it with the team long-term. I think Sean Newcomb, Max Fried, and Kolby Allard all have the potential to be great left-handed pitchers in this league. I think the team would have moved Teheran by now if they wanted to, and they clearly want him to anchor the rotation for the time being. This could be one of the best rotations in the Major Leagues come 2018.
Manny Banuelos has become a very good pitcher in the MLB, but his shoulder issues lead the team to transitioning him to the bullpen. Paco Rodriguez is still with the team and another lefty is signed in Jake McGee. Chris Withrow becomes a great setup man for the team under the tutelage of Roger McDowell, who helped him conquer his control. Shae Simmons remains a fixture in the bullpen, and Jason Motte is signed to offer the bullpen some veteran presence. Arodys Vizcaino is one of the best closers in the game.
The team ultimately decides to sign Matt Wieters when he becomes a free agent after the 2016 season. He finally stays healthy, and plays well. Jonathan Lucroy could be an option for the team as well. Tyler Flowers remains with the team due to his great defensive ability.
Freddie Freeman is the face of the franchise, and he’s finally been rewarded with a supporting cast. He remains one of the best first basemen in baseball.
Ozzie Albies makes his much anticipated MLB debut, and he compares to a young Rafael Furcal. However, Dansby Swanson gets the nod at short, and Ozzie is at second. Jace Peterson becomes a Mark Derosa-esque utility infielder for the Braves.
The Braves end up trading Ender Inciarte to the Cubs when they realize they won’t get enough power out of him and Mallex Smith in the outfield. Javier Baez is included in the return, and the team plays him over at third. He finally lives up to his billing with consistent everyday at bats. Austin Riley is still in AAA, but debuts later in the season. Rio Ruiz finally makes it to the big leagues, but Baez remains the starter.
The highly touted prospect makes his debut alongside Ozzie Albies, creating a middle infield duo that the team hopes can be electric for a decade. Daniel Castro has cemented a bench role with the team.
Despite the haters, Hector Olivera ends up being a productive player for the Braves. Dustin Peterson makes the roster after getting his feet wet in 2017, and Braxton Davidson starts the year in AAA.
Mallex Smith provides a great contact bat and speed, making him a dynamic leadoff man for the Braves.
As part of the Inciarte package, the Cubs send Jorge Soler now that the team has Jason Heyward. Soler becomes a 20+ home run guy, and alongside Baez adds much needed power to our lineup.