Alex Anthopolous has expressed his desire to bolster the bullpen.
The team had a lot of young guys step up last season. Shane Carle was awesome to start the year but faded down the stretch. Dan Winkler and Jesse Biddle had breakout seasons after injury-marred minor league careers. Chad Sobotka appears primed to be a big-time contributor in 2019.
Jonny Venters was an incredible pickup, and he will be back. Sam Freeman’s second half suggests that he could be a bounce-back candidate.
The bullpen will also benefit from the returns of Darren O’Day and Grant Dayton.
While there are a bunch of positives surrounding this unit, here is your reminder that relief pitching is so very volatile. The Braves are reportedly interested in free agent Joakim Soria:
Source: The Dbacks, Angels, Yankees, Braves and Reds are among the teams that have shown interest in veteran reliever Joakim Soria. More talks are expected at next week’s Winter Meetings. Soria has been working out near his home in Scottsdale. Check @MLB for updates.
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) December 3, 2018
Soria may not be the sexiest option on the market, but he is safe. Over his 11 year career, his ERA has eclipsed 4.00 just twice. He has experience with closing duties as well, which could be a huge factor if the Braves decide to move forward with Arodys Vizcaino as closer. Arodys is effective, but his night-to-night availability could be a concern.
The Braves want a closer to bolster this unit. However, they can get by with the additions of O’Day, and potentially Soria, if Vizcaino can put to sleep any durability concerns. Soria is coming off a season where he started the year as the White Sox closer and took a lesser role with the Milwaukee Brewers upon being traded. He was effective as the White Sox closer and had an 11.2 K/9 rate for the season.
At the end of the day, Soria is a good reliever and a valuable addition to any major league team. That is why he has a long list of suitors. And if the Braves do add him, it likely does not take them out of discussions to add a closer if they feel it is needed. However, it would also not be surprising to see him and Vizcaino share duties.