Way too early Braves 2023 Opening Day roster predictions

nl 2022 braves all stars

We still don’t know what the entire landscape of free agency will look like because most options haven’t been decided on, and even more guys will join the free agent class after being non-tendered. But I have a pretty good idea of the Braves’ needs, how much they might be willing to spend, and who they could look to target. I reserve the right to change this and will several times over the next couple of months, but here’s how I see Braves 2023 roster shaking out before the offseason begins.

Braves free agents they will let walk

Braves free agents they keep

I think the vision here is pretty clear. Unless the Braves simply don’t believe what Swanson did is sustainable, it’s more likely than not that they work out a new contract with him. I’m not totally counting out the possibility of signings someone like Trea Turner or Carlos Correa; I’m just not sure the Braves have that much coin to throw around just yet. Swanson is a leader in the clubhouse and was one of the best shortstops in all of baseball this past season. He won’t cost nearly as much as Turner or Correa, so I feel it makes sense for the Braves to retain him.

Luke Jackson is coming off Tommy John surgery and will likely be looking for a short-term contract to prove himself. That sounds right up the Braves alley, especially considering his fantastic clubhouse presence.

Duvall is another player coming off a season-ending injury, and he could also be looking at signing a short-term deal. The Braves need to add another proven left fielder to the mix. Marcell Ozuna and Eddie Rosario aren’t going to cut it. However, I don’t expect them to spend big in this area or hand out a multi-year contract because one of my favorite prospects — Justyn-Henry Malloy — plays left field and could be ready to join the major-league club as early as next season.

Braves non-tender candidates

I love what Heredia has brought to the Braves in terms of a clubhouse presence, but it’s time to make some use of that roster spot. Bracho hasn’t really been apart of the team, so I would be shocked if the Braves hung onto him. The one that tears me apart is Matzek. He would undoubtedly have been tendered a contract, but after undergoing Tommy John surgery just a couple of weeks ago, the Braves could choose to part ways with him. Matzek won’t be able to pitch next season, and while it isn’t fair, it’s the nature of the business.

Braves free agents brought in

The lack of star power on this list may piss people off because the Braves have said they want to be a top-five payroll in baseball. However, they already have so much money committed to their 2023 roster and beyond. Throw in a fat contract for Dansby Swanson, and they’ll be nearing a top-five payroll already.

Outside of shortstop, the Braves have very few holes. They need to improve their bench and left field area, and bullpen help is always going to be a welcomed addition, especially since they are losing Matzek and Kenley Jansen in this scenario.

Alex Anthopoulos could really go in a million different directions, but I went with some guys I like and also a couple of players that have been linked to Atlanta in the past. Ottavino and Montero once again give the Braves one of the best bullpens in baseball, and Brantley is a veteran bat that could platoon as a designated hitter and play some left field when needed.

Braves release Marcell Ozuna

People want to talk about finding a trade partner for Marcell Ozuna. Maybe they can; it would take at least a couple of prospects to do so, but I just don’t see it happening. Instead, I see Anthopoulos and Company completely cutting ties with what has been the worst move of his tenure to date.

Braves 2023 Opening Day 26-Man Roster

Starting Pitchers 

  1. Max Fried
  2. Spencer Strider
  3. Kyle Wright
  4. Charlie Morton
  5. Mike Soroka/Kyle Muller

Bullpen

  1. Raisel Iglesias
  2. Collin McHugh
  3. A.J. Minter
  4. Kirby Yates
  5. Luke Jackson (if healthy)
  6. Adam Ottavino
  7. Rafael Montero
  8. Dylan Lee

Catchers

  1. Travis d’Arnaud
  2. William Contreras
  3. Manny Piña

Infielders

  1. Ozzie Albes
  2. Dansby Swanson
  3. Matt Olson
  4. Austin Riley
  5. Orlando Arcia

Outfielders

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr.
  2. Michael Harris II
  3. Adam Duvall
  4. Eddie Rosario
  5. Michael Brantley

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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