This continues our series of the Braves’ long-term outlook at each position. If you missed any of the previous parts of this series, click the links below.
As things currently stand, Marcell Ozuna is the team’s starting left fielder, but I don’t imagine that’s what the Braves want, especially as he gets up there in age. The long-term plan is likely for Ozuna to become the full-time DH. I will say, though, even though he didn’t play in many games last season, he was more than competent defensively. If the Braves wanted to take a swing on Jorge Soler once the lockout ends, Ozuna could end up starting in left field for longer than we expect.
The Braves must sign at least one more outfielder before the start of the season. If it’s Soler, expect Ozuna to be starting in left. However, if the Braves sign pretty much anyone else — let’s say, Eddie Rosario for example — they will likely be starting in left or center. Still, I don’t think any free agent will be the long-term solution in left field.
A year ago, Braves fans were foaming at the mouth at the idea of an outfield consisting of Ronald Acuna, Cristian Pache, and Drew Waters. That hype has died down considerably after some poor seasons from Pache and Waters in 2021, but I’m not too worried about either. They both have some things to work on, but they’re still very young, and this isn’t atypical for top prospects on the cusp of the majors. It wouldn’t shock me at all if Waters bounced back in AAA and lined himself up to be a part of the Braves future outfield.
Waters and Pache have some competition, though, because Michael Harris is lurking. The hype around this young man is at an all-time high, but I urge fans to temper their expectations. Even though he’s thrived in the minor leagues thus far, he’s a long way from the majors. Hopefully, he can find similar success in AA this season. If that happens, we could be looking at a Michael Harris debut in 2023.
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