Predicting the Braves 30-man Opening Day roster

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The Braves might have just had the weirdest day in 2020, and that goes to show how this season will likely play out. Freddie Freeman, who tested positive for the coronavirus two weeks ago, was finally cleared to play, along with Touki Toussaint. However, within an hour of that news, Yasiel Puig — the Braves’ newest signing — tested positive even though he had no symptoms and is now a free agent again. That’s why depth is going to be king this season

There are still a couple of players on the Braves roster waiting to be cleared — Will Smith being the most notable name. But I am an optimist — and after Freddie Freeman was cleared — I believe Smith will be too before the season. However, just in case, I included an alternate bullpen option.

Starting Pitchers

  1. Mike Soroka
  2. Max Fried
  3. Mike Foltynewicz
  4. Sean Newcomb
  5. Kyle Wright

Cole Hamels is unlikely to be ready to start the season. Any day now, I expect the Braves to put him on the 10-Day IL, leaving a spot open in the rotation, which Kyle Wright should get. The Braves 4th ranked prospect was kept out of Spring Training 2.0 for a bit, but that was only because he was forced to quarantine after being in contact with someone who had the coronavirus. Wright started on Thursday for the first time and looked sharp over three innings. There’s no reason he shouldn’t begin the year in the rotation.

Relievers

  1. Will Smith (if he can test negative)
  2. Mark Melancon
  3. Chris Martin
  4. Luke Jackson
  5. Shane Greene
  6. Darren O’Day
  7. Josh Tomlin
  8. Patrick Weigel
  9. A.J. Minter
  10. Grant Dayton
  11. Jacob Webb
  12. Tucker Davidson
  13. Philip Pfiefer (alternate for Will Smith)

This is undoubtedly the most challenging group to project because the Braves have several directions they can go. Who knows if Will Smith will be cleared for Opening Day, but if he is, he’s a no-brainer to be on the 30-man roster. Spots 2-8 I’d say are pretty much a lock; then it gets a little dicey.

I think the Braves give A.J. Minter another shot based on his upside alone. He could be a tremendous addition to the bullpen if he can regain his confidence. This unit is also desperate for another reliable lefty outside of Will Smith, so I included Grant Dayton, even though he’s been miserable in Spring Training. In normal circumstances, Jacob Webb would be a shoo-in after his unbelievable rookie campaign last year. However, injury concerns might prevent that from happening.

The last two spots belong to two lefties the Braves could turn to (although only one will get a chance if Will Smith is cleared to play). I thought about going with Chris Rusin over Tucker Davidson since he actually has major league experience, and Davidson has only had a taste of AAA action. But let’s face it, Davidson has looked unbelievable for over a year now, including Spring Training, and the need for long relief will be more significant early in the year.

Catchers

  1. Travis d’Arnaud
  2. Tyler Flowers

For the playoffs, the Braves might carry three catchers, but I don’t see that happening to begin the season.

Infielders

  1. Freddie Freeman 
  2. Ozzie Albies
  3. Austin Riley
  4. Johan Camargo
  5. Dansby Swanson
  6. Adeiny Hechavarria

Freddie Freeman returned to play yesterday, meaning this group is set in stone. 

Outfielders

  1. Ender Inciarte
  2. Ronald Acuña Jr.
  3. Charlie Culberson
  4. Marcell Ozuna
  5. Adam Duvall

Without Yasiel Puig, unless Alex Anthopoulos signs someone before the season, Charlie Culberson will reap the benefits.

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