By the end of the day, the 2023 World Series will be set. Last night, the Rangers upset the Astros to continue their Cinderella run as they aim to win their first World Series in franchise history. Tonight, the Diamondbacks will look to do the same, as they topped the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Game 6 to force a winner-take-all Game 7.
For the 27 other teams, the offseason has already begun, and before long, MLB free agency will be wide open. Before that happens, let’s take a look the current 2024 outlook at each position from the Braves perspective.
Braves Rotation 2024 Outlook
- Max Fried
- Spencer Strider
- Charlie Morton???
- Bryce Elder
- Michael Soroka (Arbitration)
- AJ Smith-Shawver
- Yonny Chirinos (Arbitration)
- Kolby Allard
- Allan Winans
- Darius Vines
- Hurston Waldrep
As you can see, It’s Max Fried, Spencer Strider, and a bunch of unknowns.
Charlie Morton has a club option for $20 million in 2024, but this is more of a mutual option. The Braves would love to have him back, but at 39-years-old, Uncle Charlie could decide he’s ready to hang it up and move on to the next stage in his life. I’m interested to see how the finger injury, which caused him to miss the postseason, affects his retirement decision.
Bryce Elder looks to be a staple of the Braves rotation for a long time. He really struggled in the second half of the season, and it seemed like he ran out of gas in his first full season in the majors. Still, he showed enough over the whole body of work to warrant a spot in the rotation to begin the 2024 campaign.
After that, it’s anybody’s best guess. The Braves will certainly be adding to this group via free agency or trade because while they have options, none of them can be trusted out of the gate based on what we saw in 2023.
Michael Soroka may not even be on the club in 2024. He’s out of options and is projected to earn $3 million in arbitration. I do expect the Braves to tender him a contract since they’ve hung on this long, but that doesn’t guarantee him a spot in the rotation. They could use him as trade bait this offseason in hopes of moving him to a rebuilding club instead of letting him walk for nothing. The Braves could also see it through and hope a full and healthy offseason leads to better results for Soroka in 2024.
AJ Smith-Shawver was one of the fastest rising prospects in 2023, beginning the year in High-A Rome and finishing on the postseason roster. He looks poised to be a critical piece of the Braves rotation for years to come. Whether that becomes a reality in 2024, however, is something Alex Anthopoulos will have to weigh when making his offseason decisions.
Yonny Chirinos is another arbitration candidate that the Braves will have to decide on. He’s only projected to earn $2 million, and it seems the Braves believe they can fix him, or he likely would have been DFA’d rather than placed on the IL to end the season.
Kolby Allard, Allan Winans, and Darius Vines should all be viewed as quality organizational depth. At most, they can fill in at the back-end of the Braves rotation in a pinch, but none of them should be viewed as anything more than that heading into next season.
The last wild card on this list is Hurston Waldrep. He was the Braves first-round selection in 2023, and his stuff jumps off the screen. It didn’t take him long to make it to Gwinnett, and if he continues to pitch well to begin next season, he will find himself in Atlanta before long. The Braves are notorious for getting their young talent to the majors quickly, and Waldrep has the potential to be the next young star in Atlanta.
The Braves have more questions than answers when it comes to their 2024 rotation. A lot of the concerns will be relieved if Charlie Morton decides to play one more season, but even if he does, Alex Anthopoulos should add at least one more stable veteran to the group that is capable of pitching in the postseason. As we’ve seen over the last two seasons, injuries are inevitable. Starting pitching very well might be the top priority for the Braves entering the offseason.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire