The Braves have locked up the majority of their core for the foreseeable future, but they still have several key pieces set to test the open market this offseason. Most of these are holes that need to be filled, so whether the Braves bring back their own free agents or not, they’ll need to address these positions one way or another.
Adrianza is a AAAA player. He’s a guy who is a little too good to be in AAA but not good enough to be a full-time major-league contributor. The Braves could opt to bring him back as a bench piece, but my guess is he signs elsewhere.
Grossman had his moments in Atlanta, but he’s nothing more than a platoon option that has had success against left-handed pitching. I wouldn’t mind seeing him back on a very team-friendly deal, but like Adrianza, I imagine he will find a new home this offseason.
5. Jesse Chavez
What a year it was for Jesse Chavez. The Braves didn’t bring him back last offseason, only to trade for him in April. Then Atlanta traded him to the Angels at the trade deadline. No way he ends up back with the Braves, right? Wrong. Chavez was abysmal for Los Angeles, so they released him, and the Braves immediately scooped him up. With every other team, Chavez has been terrible, but with the Braves, he has figured something out. If he doesn’t retire, I hope he returns to Atlanta for one more season.
4. Luke Jackson
Jackson is up there with my favorite Braves of all time because of his grit. For years, the Braves put him in a position to fail, asking him to close games when he’s never been a ninth-inning guy. Fans berated him when he failed and gave him little praise when he succeeded, but he took all the criticism on the chin and kept pushing forward. When he was finally put in his proper role in 2021, all he did was post a ridiculous 1.98 ERA. Unfortunately, he missed all of 2022 with Tommy John surgery, but he should be ready to go at the beginning of next season. I’m hopeful the Braves bring him back on a one-year, prove-it contract.
Jansen’s 2022 was filled with highs and lows, but for the most part, he was a high-quality closer for the Braves, especially when it mattered most at the end of the season. The Braves have said they would like him back, but with Raisel Iglesias in the fold, I doubt they will be in a hurry to hand him another $16 million for next season.
2. Adam Duvall
Duvall going down with a season-ending wrist injury isn’t talked about enough. This was one of the biggest pieces to the Braves’ 2022 World Series run, and he was just starting to get hot when he hit the IL. Given the Braves’ current left field situation, I think bringing back Duvall to stabilize the position should be near the top of the Braves’ priorities. They can’t go into next year with Marcell Ozuna and Eddie Rosario as their only options in left field.
This one is obvious and will be talked about all offseason. Swanson is about to be courted by half the teams in baseball, and it’s possible the bidding gets out of hand. Both parties have shown mutual interest in keeping Swanson in Atlanta, but the fact that a contract hasn’t been agreed upon by this point is discouraging. Entering the offseason, the Braves’ biggest hole to fill is at shortstop, whether that’s with Swanson or another free agent.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire