It’s February 10th, and it still feels like we are nowhere close to baseball being played. Rob Manfred hasn’t yet officially announced a delay to the season, but if significant progress isn’t made the next time the two sides meet, it will be inevitable. One thing we do know, though, is there will be a universal DH next season, eliminating pitchers hitting once and for all… unless you’re Shohei Ohtani, of course.
Robert Manfred announced that MLB has agreed to a draft lottery and a universal DH pic.twitter.com/6hDbrXognb
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) February 10, 2022
I wasn’t always in favor of the universal DH, but after testing it out during the COVID shortened 2020 campaign, I’m happy never to go back. There’s no reason for pitchers to continue giving away free outs. It also makes sense for both leagues to abide by the same set of rules. The universal DH was always expected to be a part of the new CBA, so this shouldn’t shock anybody, and it all but guarantees the Braves must add at least one more outfielder.
As things currently stand, the Braves only have two starting-caliber outfielders that will 100% be ready on Opening Day — Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall. Ronald Acuña is still recovering from his torn ACL, and it’s believed that top prospects Cristian Pache and Drew Waters will begin the year in AAA. Even if there weren’t a universal DH, the Braves would need to add another outfielder. Now, a case can be made for them to sign two.
We are also assuming that the Braves will retain Marcell Ozuna, which is still up in the air. Given the situation, I don’t believe they have much of a choice. In limited action, he played decent defensively in left field last season, but he’s a liability in the field at this point in his career. In an ideal world, he will be the Braves DH in 2022 and beyond; however, that all depends on the direction the team goes once the lockout ends.
As I’ve stated several times this offseason, my vote is for the Braves to bring back Jorge Soler. I believe the adjustments he made at the plate after being traded to Atlanta are sustainable, which means his next contract could be a bargain for whoever signs him. Adding Soler back into the mix would give the Braves one of the most powerful lineups in the history of baseball. The only issue would be defense. Either he or Ozuna would have to play in the field, but I would be more than willing to give up a little defense for all the offense those two would provide.
There is the possibility that Soler priced himself outside of Atlanta’s range with his postseason performance. In that case, Alex Anthopoulos could pivot to another familiar face in Eddie Rosario. Rosario isn’t a very good fielder either, but again, the offense he provides could make that a moot point. I believe either Soler or Rosario will be back in a Braves uniform next season, but if not, there are plenty of other free agent options available, which I outlined earlier this week. Anthopoulos could also survey the trade market for an upgrade.
At the moment, Ozuna is the most likely to head into the 2022 season as the team’s DH, but I expect the Braves to shuffle a ton of things up once the lockout comes to an end. At the very least, we can expect them to add at least one more player that can play the outfield or DH before the start of the season.
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