According to several reports, the Braves were in on a lot of relievers this offseason. However, they didn’t sign anyone of significance and failed to bring back Mark Melancon, Darren O’Day, or Shane Greene. Of course, Greene remains a free-agent, but it seems more likely than not that he will be playing elsewhere next season. That’s quite a bit of firepower that won’t be replaced — at least not externally. However, Chris Martin believes the Braves have enough talented young arms within the organization to pick up the slack.
This is an aspect I’ve discussed several times throughout the offseason. Bringing back Melancon, O’Day, or Greene would have been nice, but they were more like luxury additions rather than necessities. Melancon and O’Day are nearing the end of their careers; it’s only a matter of time before they fall off a cliff. And Greene was up and down during his entire tenure in Atlanta.
Meanwhile, the Braves have a wealth of fresh faces waiting to make an impact. Jacob Webb is a popular name after the way he pitched in 2019. He’s healthy and ready to become a staple at the back-end of the bullpen. But then you also have former starters that could be much more effective as full-time relievers. Sean Newcomb had plenty of success out of the bullpen in 2019. That’s the role it appears he will play again in 2021 after another failed stint as a starter last season. And perhaps others like Touki Toussaint and possibly even Kyle Wright, Huascar Ynoa, or Bryse Wilson could follow in his footsteps.
The Braves also have plenty of talented pitching prospects, including several that could be MLB-ready this season. Given how many starting pitchers Atlanta already has, contributing out of the bullpen may be the best way for them to make an impact in 2021. However, I wouldn’t expect to see them until later in the season.
When you combine all of these youthful options with some of the veteran lottery tickets that Alex Anthopoulos added this offseason, like Nate Jones, Carl Edwards Jr., and Victor Arano, it’s not that difficult to see where the Braves will make up for their lost production in the bullpen. This unit will be just fine, whether they can bring back Shane Greene or not. And even if the bullpen struggles, Anthopoulos shouldn’t have a problem finding some answers externally throughout the season.
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