Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two days or are just now waking up from a prolific three-day hangover from July 4th, you’re well aware that Nick Markakis has announced he is sitting out the 2020 season because of the coronavirus. This was a bit shocking because of the ironman that Markakis is, but nobody can blame him for putting his family first going into his 15th major league season.
So naturally, the Braves, who had an envious amount of depth before Markakis decided to opt-out, need to fill his role. But today, when Brian Snitker asked if they would look outside of the organization for an outfield replacement, he said they would stick with the options they have in-house.
Asked about possibly bringing in another outfielder, Snit said Braves will stick with players they have in camp right now.
— Gabe Burns (@GabeBurnsAJC) July 7, 2020
Now, I don’t take Snitker for a liar. Still, if you’ve been following the Braves for some time, especially since Alex Anthopoulos has become the GM, almost all their moves come out of nowhere, so it shouldn’t be expected for Snitker to give out any information on those topics. However, when looking at the Braves outfield depth, they really don’t need to bring in another one to fill out their roster. They have plenty of options.
Marcell Ozuna, Ronald Acuna, and Ender Inciarte are up there with the best starting outfields in the majors. The Braves also have Adam Duvall, a former All-Star himself, who can fill in against lefties if Inciarte struggles with the bat. If that’s not enough, Austin Riley, Johan Camargo, and Charlie Culberson all have experience in the outfield, and the Braves organizational depth extends even deeper than that.
Cristian Pache and Drew Waters are the Braves’ two top prospects. Pache is already on the 40-man and could be called up at a moment’s notice. Waters was included on the team’s 60-man taxi squad and remains an option if things get thin at the major-league level. The Braves do need to replace Nick Markakis but not necessarily with an outfielder. They could use another left-handed bat that can come off the bench and serve as a DH at times against right-handed pitching.
Right now, all of their bats on the bench are right-handed… unless Johan Camargo doesn’t end up starting. In that case, the Braves would have one switch hitter. That’s not ideal when considering the DH is now being implemented in the National League. When that first became official, the Braves should have been jumping for joy. They were loaded with options from both sides of the plate. With Markakis choosing to opt-out, it complicates things, and it would be odd for the Braves not to consider a cheap free-agent option, much like what Matt Joyce provided the team last season.
Perhaps a player like Yonder Alonso — a left-handed bat in the Braves organization and an MLB journeyman with ten years of experience can provide that — but he hit below the Mendoza line in 121 games last year and was only 1 for 25 in Spring Training 1.0. However, it wasn’t long ago that he was an All-Star. In 2017, Alonso hit .266 with 28 homers. He’s also a career .259 hitter. Either way, with the season beginning in just over two weeks, Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t have much time to act.