A couple of weeks ago, Clint Manry went through how the Braves 2022 rotation could be one of the best in franchise history. That’s pretty significant considering all the historic rotations the Braves have put together over the years, but it certainly could be the case. If Mike Soroka can finally get back to 100%, this team will be filled with top of the rotation talent, and more could be on the way in the form of top prospects like Kyle Muller and Tucker Davidson. The years of acquiring young pitching in the draft and through trades are finally beginning to pay substantial dividends, but next year’s potential offense doesn’t look too shabby either.
Atlanta’s offense has come alive since the trade deadline, and Braves fans can thank Alex Anthopoulos for that. All of the mid-season acquisitions have made significant contributions, leading to a ten-game swing in the NL East. However, Anthopoulos will have several decisions to make regarding those new faces in free agency.
Adam Duvall has a mutual option for next season, but he likely opts out in search of a multi-year contract, something I believe the Braves should be willing to offer. Joc Pederson has a $10 million club option for next season, which could also be in the team’s best interest, while Jorge Soler and Eddie Rosario are unrestricted free agents. Of course, the situation surrounding Marcell Ozuna will affect some of these decisions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Braves brought back two or three of these guys. As things stand now, this lineup doesn’t lack much, and they’ll be getting a healthy Ronald Acuña back at some point in 2022.
Since we have no idea what will happen with Marcell Ozuna, I’ll assume he won’t be playing. I also think it’s fair to expect the DH to come to the National League, so the Braves will not only be looking to fill out their outfield, but they’ll also need a designated hitter. So here’s what the lineup might look like in 2022 with those things in mind.
- Ronald Acuña Jr.
- Ozzie Albies
- Freddie Freeman
- Austin Riley
- Dansby Swanson
- Travis d’Arnaud
- Adam Duvall
- Jorge Soler
- Joc Pederson
It may not turn out exactly like this. The Braves could easily check out the outfield market for an even better upgrade. We also can’t forget that Freddie Freeman is an unrestricted free agent this winter. Signing him is undoubtedly priority #1, and there’s really no reason the Braves shouldn’t pony up the cash to retain him. All he’s done over his career is exactly what every organization could ask for out of their franchise cornerstone, and the Braves should have plenty of room to fit him in their payroll while still filling in around him with pieces like this.
Adam Duvall may be looking for a multi-year contract, but he shouldn’t cost too much to retain. Given the fact that the DH is likely coming to the National League, keeping him is a no-brainer. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Braves attempted to upgrade over Soler. He’s been great for them so far, but they might choose to go with a safer option. However, if they stick with Soler, it shouldn’t cost them very much, and they could probably land him on a one-year deal. The decision to keep Pederson will come down to whether the Braves want to pick up his option. I like what he brings to the team and having him bat ninth would be quite the luxury, but I could see Anthopoulos hesitant to commit $10 million to him.
We also can’t forget about the likes of Cristian Pache and Drew Waters — the Braves’ top two prospects in the system. Pache clearly was not ready for Major League Baseball this season, but as Jake wrote about yesterday, he’s really picked things up in Gwinnett over the last couple of months. It’s not unreasonable to think he could begin next season in Atlanta as the starting centerfielder. Considering his performance this season, Waters likely needs a little more seasoning in the minors, but he could also be ready for a promotion at some point in 2022.
As long as the Braves retain Freddie Freeman, they should have few issues putting together one of the best rosters in baseball. Their rotation is loaded with talent and depth, and the same can be said about their potential lineup. Next year’s team might also have an elite bench, which hasn’t been the case for quite some time. Like every team that makes the playoffs, the Braves have a shot at a World Series in 2021, but their outlook moving forward is much brighter.