Braves GM confirms Atlanta’s plan at shortstop to NY Post

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The Braves’ biggest question entering the offseason: What would Atlanta’s plan at shortstop be? When the winter began, many in Braves Country dreamed of signing one of the big four — Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson, or Xander Bogaerts. Fast forward a couple of months, and Atlanta is entering the 2022 campaign with Vaughn Grissom and Orlando Arcia manning shortstop.

Turner was the first off the board, signing a $300+ million contract with the Phillies, then Bogaerts signed a $280 million deal with the Padres. And late in the night, the Mets swooped in and locked Correa up. Just as Braves Country was digesting Dansby Swanson’s goodbye on social media, news broke that Steve Cohen had stolen the crown jewel of the free agent shortstop class out from under the Giants.

It was a bitter pill to wake up to. Ironically, earlier in the day yesterday, Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman released an episode of their NY Post podcast with Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos. And the biggest story of the team’s offseason was brought up.


“We’re in a position where we’re going to have to give young players opportunities. We gave Christian Pache that opportunity to be the guy in center field for us long term. It was short-lived; he got traded. But then you give Mike Harris that opportunity and he does stick,” Anthopoulos told Heyman and Sherman.

Vaughn Grissom is now that young player who will have a chance to become the Braves next young star. We saw Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies then Austin Riley then Michael Harris and Spencer Strider; Grissom could be next. But nobody should expect it to work out. More than likely, it won’t, and AA knows that.

“Just because we’re giving young players an opportunity, we’re not naive enough to think they’re all going to do well,” he continued.

Of course, the Braves would’ve liked to have Dansby Swanson back, but the money just didn’t make sense. And unlike the Mets, Anthopoulos is working with more restrictions, resulting in giving the reins to young players.

“We’re not going to be able to fill a roster of 26 guys making $22 million, and somewhere around there we’re going to have to take some chances with young players.”

The Braves have used this method before, and it’s been a bag of mixed results. Pache didn’t workout, while Harris did. Austin Riley took over for Josh Donaldson and struggled to start but has turned into the team’s highest-paid player and an MVP-caliber talent. At the time, everyone wanted Donaldson back, but things turned out wonderfully. Now, the Braves are hoping for something similar with Grissom.

“With Vaughn, he’s got tremendous talent. He’s 21. I understand the concerns and the doubts from a defensive standpoint,” Anthopoulos stated. “Ron Washington is someone that knows a lot more about the infield than I do or anyone in our organization. I have talked to him five or six times this offseason, and I ask him all the time, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure? Are you sure? Can he just handle the position from a defensive standpoint?'”

It’s fair to wonder. Grissom’s bat isn’t the concern; in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s more productive than Dansby Swanson in that facet of the game. The worry is Grissom’s defense. He struggled at second base and was always expected to switch positions once he reached the majors. Taking over for a Gold Glove, All-Star shortstop in Swanson isn’t easy, but Ron Washington is confident in the youngster.

“Wash is convinced that Vaughn Grissom can handle it.”

Who are you or I to question whether Grissom is ready? If Wash says he can handle shortstop duties, Grissom deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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