The Braves may have won the World Series just a week ago, but as you can see, there’s no time for general managers to rest. Moves have already begun, and rumors are swirling. The Braves, in particular, have a ton of decisions to make regarding critical pieces that helped them to their first World Series in 26 years. I do expect several of them to be retained, but what are Atlanta’s biggest needs as we look ahead to 2022?
For the sake of this article, I will not be including re-signing Freddie Freeman. That’s obviously priority #1, and if he walks, first base immediately becomes the Braves’ most pressing need.
5. Improving the bench
The bench had its moments, but overall, it was a pretty poor group and could be getting even weaker with losses to Rosario, Pederson, and Soler. Bringing back Adrianza is a no-brainer, and Arcia is another player that could etch out a permanent role with the team. But after that, this unit could use some serious re-vamping. They were essentially automatic outs every time they came to the plate in the postseason.
4. Signing another frontline starter
I have this at #4 because it certainly isn’t a necessity. Fried, Morton, and Anderson will all be back next season, and the rest of the rotation could easily be filled with Wright, Muller, Davidson, Toussaint, or Ynoa. Mike Soroka could also return at some point next year. However, you can never have too much starting pitching. If one of Fried, Morton, or Anderson were to go down for the season, things wouldn’t look nearly as promising for the Braves starting group. Adding another frontline starter to solidify the rotation as one of the best in baseball is probably the easiest way to ensure this team is competing for another championship come October. It would also allow the Braves to be patient with their young arms.
3. Trading for a backup catcher
I firmly believe in the futures of William Contreras and Shea Langeliers. They very well could be the catching tandem of the future for the next 5+ years. However, the Braves can’t roll the dice like they did this season with Travis d’Arnaud and not much else. That was a disaster for much of the season, and Langeliers and Contreras aren’t quite ready to be major-league contributors. Unfortunately, there’s next to nothing on the market for catchers in free agency. Perhaps the Braves bring Stephen Vogt back, but I think it’s much more likely that they make a small yet worthwhile trade for a backup catcher.
2. Bolstering the bullpen
Nobody can deny just how fantastic the Braves bullpen was to end the season and into the playoffs. They received heroic efforts from A.J. Minter, Jesse Chavez, Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek, and Will Smith when it mattered most. However, relief pitching is the most volatile aspect of the sport. There’s no guaranteeing that any of the aforementioned names will be as good as they were to end the season ever again, which is why it is best to use a strength in numbers approach when it comes to the bullpen. I expect the Braves to be in the market for at least one marquee reliever and sign several others.
1. Figure out the outfield/DH
Alex Anthopoulos shouldn’t have a problem doing this, but as things stand now, the outfield is in shambles. Ronald Acuña is out until at least May or June, Marcell Ozuna probably won’t play next season, and Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler, and Adam Duvall all remain unsigned. I expect AA to bring a couple of those guys back, but with the DH coming to the National League, too, the Braves will need more than that. Anthopoulos has several tough decisions regarding his own guys, and he’ll also be in on several other teams’ free agents. Our own Clint Manry recently discussed some external outfield candidates that the Braves might target to fill their holes.
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