Predicting the Braves 2022 Opening Day Roster

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The Braves have a ton of decisions to make this offseason. Will Freddie Freeman be back? Which of their outfield trade acquisitions will be back? Who will fill out the back-end of their rotation? How will they bolster their bullpen? And much more. There’s virtually no way I get all of these answers correct, but I will attempt to predict the 2022 Opening Day roster. This isn’t what I want to happen or a dream scenario; this is what I believe is the most realistic roster for the Braves to begin next season.

*Keep in mind, Ronald Acuña will not be available for Opening Day

Starting Lineup

  1. Eddie Rosario (LF)
  2. Ozzie Albies (2B)
  3. Freddie Freeman (1B)
  4. Austin Riley (3B)
  5. Nelson Cruz (DH)
  6. Adam Duvall (RF)
  7. Travis d’Arnaud (C)
  8. Dansby Swanson (SS)
  9. Kevin Pillar (CF)

For the most part, I see the Braves bringing the band back together. Freddie Freeman, Eddie Rosario, and Adam Duvall are retained. However, Joc Pederson and Jorge Soler are not. Pederson made it clear he wants to be an everyday player. With the Braves, that’s just not possible, especially when Ronald Acuña returns. I want to keep Soler, and I still think there’s a chance it happens, but if he gets a multi-year contract, I have a feeling the Braves will balk.

To replace them, I have the Braves bringing in a couple of cheaper options. Pillar is a solid centerfielder with some decent pop in his bat. I don’t imagine he will command much more than one year and $5 million on the market. Alex Anthopoulos could go a number of different directions for the DH, but Cruz is almost certain to take a one-year contract, and frankly, the ageless wonder has been significantly better than Soler over his career. Maybe this is the year Cruz falls off, but if he doesn’t, this would create the most powerful lineup in the majors, especially once Acuña returns.

Bench

  1. Orlando Arcia
  2. Ehire Adrianza
  3. Manny Piña
  4. Travis Demeritte

I think the Braves end up sticking with Arcia and non-tendering Johan Camargo this offseason. Ehire Adrianza is an unrestricted free agent, but both sides should have a mutual interest in a reunion. We know now that next year’s backup catcher will be Manny Piña, which was a high-quality move by Alex Anthopoulos. There’s next to nothing on the market, and the Braves couldn’t risk rolling with William Contreras or Shea Langeliers to start the season. The final bench spot will likely be an open competition. Like every season, Alex Anthopoulos will bring in a host of players on a minor league contract, but for now, I’ll go with Demeritte, who had a fantastic season with the Stripers in 2021.

Starting Rotation

  1. Max Fried
  2. Charlie Morton
  3. Ian Anderson
  4. Huascar Ynoa
  5. Kyle Wright

The Braves could opt to bring in another starting arm, but I have them electing not to simply because they have so many young arms that are major-league ready. For most of the season, Huascar Ynoa was fantastic. Providing that arm injury he suffered in the NLCS isn’t anything major, he should begin next year in the starting rotation. That leaves an open competition for the fifth spot between guys like Wright, Muller, Davidson, and Toussaint. This might surprise some, but I’m going with Kyle Wright. The organization hasn’t given up on him for a reason, and he looked spectacular in the World Series. Wright could be the surprise of the 2022 season.

Bullpen

  1. Will Smith
  2. Luke Jackson
  3. Tyler Matzek
  4. A.J. Minter
  5. Richard Rodriguez
  6. Dylan Lee
  7. Jesse Chavez
  8. Collin McHugh

Everything remains the same here except for one significant addition. Even though Rodriguez was terrible for the Braves after acquiring him at the trade deadline, I imagine they hang onto him and give him one more chance. I liked what I saw out of Dylan Lee and believe he has an excellent opportunity to make the Opening Day roster. If he wants to continue pitching, I don’t know why the Braves wouldn’t hand Jesse Chavez another one-year contract. However, the significant upgrade here is Collin McHugh. Honestly, I have no idea who the Braves will add to their relief core, but I do believe they will be in the market for a game-changing relief arm to ensure their bullpen is just as dominant as it was in the postseason.

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