FanGraphs’ ZiPS projections for the Braves are here. Unfortunately, it’s a bit incomplete because, like most teams, Atlanta has plenty of holes left to fill once the lockout comes to an end. They were one of the quieter teams leading up to the lockout, signing only two players — Manny Piña and Kirby Yates — to major-league contracts, and Yates may not even contribute in 2022, as he’s coming off of Tommy John surgery. Therefore, the Braves’ ZiPS projections aren’t all that inspiring, but they provide a clear picture of what the team needs to address once the lockout ends.
First base, duh
It shouldn’t even have to be said, but the Braves’ most significant hole is at first base. As things currently stand, FanGraphs projects the Braves to accumulate 0.5 WAR at the position. That’s abysmal, but there’s also no way Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t add to the position before the start of the season. I believe Freeman will be back, but if not, the Braves could pivot to a free agent option like Anthony Rizzo, or they could dip into the trade market and go big after Matt Olson, which has been discussed. Either way, there’s no reason to worry about first base being a black hole like it is in these projections.
The Braves must sign at least one more outfielder
Right now, bringing in another outfielder isn’t an option. It’s a need that must be addressed, especially with the DH likely coming to the National League. There’s no way the Braves can go into this season relying on a prospect like Drew Waters or Cristian Pache. We saw how well that worked out last season. Ideally, I would love to bring Jorge Soler or Eddie Rosario back, but there are also several other options on the free-agent market that could fill the void, and again, Anthopoulos could find a trade involving an outfielder.
Rotation should be added to
It may not be necessary, and if money is tight, it should probably be the last thing the Braves are worried about, but adding another high-quality starter could make this team unstoppable. The three-headed monster of Fried, Anderson, and Morton is one of the best in the business, but there are many question marks after that. The Braves do have a multitude of young arms that could potentially break out, so they may choose to go that route. However, I’m more worried about a potential scenario where one of the Braves big-three goes down with a severe injury. Reliable starting pitching depth is critical to success, and right now, this team doesn’t have it.