Following the extensions handed out to Austin Riley, Spencer Strider, and Michael Harris II during the season, the Braves have almost their entire core locked up for the next 5+ seasons. Their championship window is wide open, and there’s a reason why they aren’t the most active team in free agency. It’s not because they don’t have money, it’s because they don’t have many weaknesses. As I examine the roster today, I only see three places where the Braves have to find answers for the future, and I’m sure you can guess the most important one.
Since it is the most obvious, I thought I would begin with it. The Braves could nip this problem in the bud today if they wanted by re-signing Dansby Swanson. Unfortunately, as this saga continues, it feels less likely that he will remain in Atlanta. I hope I’m wrong, but with what other shortstops around the league have been paid this offseason, Swanson will likely sniff $200 million — a place I don’t think the Braves will go.
That doesn’t mean the Braves are out of options. Who knows, they could be a dark horse candidate for Carlos Correa, or perhaps Alex Anthopoulos has a trick or two up his sleeve and swings a trade. Those both feel unlikely at this point, but the answer to the future of the shortstop position in Atlanta may already be on the roster. The Braves are impressed with Vaughn Grissom, and while it would be overzealous to expect him to take over as the starting shortstop next year, it very well could happen in the near future.
The Braves currently have some options in left field. Although, neither of them is encouraging. Both Marcell Ozuna and Eddie Rosario are coming off the worst seasons of their respective careers. The hope is that one or both of them will bounce back in 2023, but neither is the answer for the future of the position. Rosario’s contract is up after next season, and Ozuna only has two years remaining on his deal… if he even makes it that far.
Beyond that, the Braves have nothing waiting in the wings. I thought Justyn-Henry Malloy had the potential to be the left fielder of the future, but he was just traded in a deal that netted the Braves Joe Jiménez. Atlanta’s farm system is weak, especially when it comes to position players. In order to fill this hole, the Braves must look to free agency or make a trade, unless someone comes out of nowhere down on the farm.
This is an area of every team that will always need bolstering. There might not be a more accurate statement in the game today than “you can never have enough pitching.” Looking at the Braves’ situation, in particular, they really only have two spots solidified for more than two years — Spencer Strider and Kyle Wright. The fifth spot in the rotation is currently up in the air, Charlie Morton will be retiring soon, and Max Fried will become a free agent following the 2024 season, and I find it unlikely he will be re-signed.
That means the Braves have a couple of years to find three more solutions, which can come from just about anywhere. A couple of options should come up through the farm system, but if that’s not enough, they’ll have to look to free agency and the trade markets. Given the volatility of pitching and the amount of injuries that take place, you can see why Alex Anthopoulos puts the rotation as a top priority nearly every offseason.
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