The future of Vaughn Grissom seems to be reaching a crossroads. The Braves either need to find a place for him to play everyday or move him in a trade.
Grissom was initially thought to be the favorite to win the starting shortstop job out of Spring Training. When Orlando Arcia was announced as the starting shortstop on Opening Day, it was a mild surprise. Grissom had performed well with the stick during the Spring, but fans quickly realized why the Braves went in the direction they did when Orlando Arcia went down with injury.
His offense has never been the question, but there were always concerns about Grissom’s defense at shortstop, which stuck out like a sore thumb at the major-league level. He committed six errors in just 18 starts with a -7 DRS, which is almost unfathomable in such a short amount of time. Meanwhile, Orlando Arcia went on to be named the starting shortstop for the NL All-Star team.
With Arcia securing the job as the starting shortstop, there was no place to put Vaughn Grissom, but the 22-year-old tore the cover off the ball in AAA. In 102 games, Grissom managed to hit .330 with 36 doubles and eight home runs, good for a .921 OPS. His offense is undoubtedly ready for a major-league role; the Braves just need to find a place to put him.
That’s not going to happen on the infield. Vaughn Grissom proved he can’t handle shortstop, and Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, and Matt Olson aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. The only possibility remaining is left field, which Alex Anthopoulos has now acknowledged is on the table going into 2024.
Alex Anthopoulos said #Braves payroll will increase again, will be higher to start 2024 than the approximate $205M where it ended in 2023. Wouldn't say how much that increase would be.
Also confirmed that moving INF Vaughn Grissom to left field is an option they've discussed.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) November 8, 2023
This is a very significant development, and some Braves fans might even be saying, “What took so long?”
Vaughn Grissom is young with a terrific athletic profile. If Freddie Freeman can play third base, surely Grissom can make the switch to the outfield so early in his career, yet the Braves have refused to give him the opportunity. That appears to be changing heading into 2024.
The question is, how much do the Braves trust Vaughn Grissom to make the transition? We’ll learn a lot by how they go about this offseason. With Eddie Rosario out of the picture, there is a clear opening in left field. The Braves could spend money addressing it, or they could allocate all of their dollars on pitching in hopes Grissom can handle the position.
It’s an incredibly intriguing situation. Because if the Braves can rely on Vaughn Grissom and avoid spending money on a left fielder, they can really build an incredible pitching staff this offseason. There’s certainly some risk, but it might be worth the gamble.
Photo: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire