The MLB offseason hasn’t quite taken off to this point, but it’s not for a lack of action on the Braves’ end. They’ve been wheeling and dealing on a daily basis, and the team already looks significantly different than it did this past season.
The most substantial transactions have addressed the bullpen. Joe Jimenez and Pierce Johnson were re-signed not long after the season ended. The Braves then went out and inked a three-year deal with hard-throwing right-hander Reynaldo Lopez. They also signed Penn Murfee and Jackson Stephens to one-year, non-guaranteed contracts most recently.
The one thing that already stands out is the depth. With guys like Tyler Matzek, Dylan Lee, and Huascar Ynoa hopefully coming back healthy in 2024, the Braves will have the deepest relief core they’ve had in years. That’s a huge advantage over the course of a 162+ game season, one the Braves did not benefit from in 2023.
One guy that we know will not be back for 2024 is Ben Heller, as the right-hander has inked a minor-league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
— MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) December 5, 2023
Heller has some good stuff, and I wouldn’t have minded one bit if the Braves kept him around for organizational depth. Alex Anthopoulos acquired him in a small trade with the Rays in June, and he wound up pitching some valuable innings in Atlanta, making 19 appearances and recording a more than respectable 3.86 ERA.
At the end of the day, it probably came down to Heller’s personal preference. The Braves now have 10-11 guys that can contribute to the bullpen on Opening Day. The same can’t be said for the Pirates. Heller should have a much better opportunity to stick in Pittsburgh than he would have in Atlanta.
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