Braves: Is Alex Anthopoulos showing his hand? Upcoming roster moves

MLB Pipeline

Yesterday, Alex Anthopolous made his first move of the offseason, signing Manny Piña, a backup catcher, to a 2 year $8MM deal with a $4MM club option for 2024. For most Braves fans, this doesn’t come as a surprise as the catching position was a bloody nightmare last year as Atlanta employed seven 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 probably picked the best of the free agent catchers left on the market, and I sure do feel sorry for the rest of the teams that need a backstop, 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, 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 money 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 has 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 the 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 players are unlikely to be protected, and it’s almost 100% that they wouldn’t get grabbed if left exposed.

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