Atlanta Braves: Roster Projection With Ronald Acuña and Mike Soroka

Atlanta Braves, Champs (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Atlanta Braves, Champs (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Braves have some holes to fill to defend their World Series title, but that does not mean they are not primed to make another title run

There is a lot of uncertainty with the current MLB lockout, so there is no conceivable way to know exactly what the Atlanta Braves’ roster will look like. However, there are some predictions that can be made based on educated guesses:

1.       The first assumption before predicting the roster is that it will still be a 26-man roster. With that in mind, it needs to be stated that a 26-man roster is constantly in flux. We do not know how minor league options will work after the lockout, but as of now, a player with minor league options can be shuffled back and forth between the majors and the minors.

2.       It is widely assumed that there will be a universal DH. This is not guaranteed, but we are going to make predictions based on this.

3.       The opening day roster and the optimized roster could be very different. We do not know for certain that Ronald Acuña Jr. will be back before opening day, and we do not know when Mike Soroka will be back.

There are many prediction articles available online, so to make this prediction a little different we are going to predict the roster of once Soroka and Acuña Jr. come back, along with the above caveats in place.

The current Atlanta Braves projected lineup without any future moves looks… odd

According to Fangraphs, who only factor in players that are currently on the Atlanta Braves 40-man roster, it is clear that some moves will be made before the season starts, and is obviously not factoring Soroka and Acuña Jr.:

SS – Dansby Swanson

2B – Ozzie Albies

3B – Austin Riley

LF – Marcel Ozuna

RF – Adam Duvall

C – Travis d’Arnaud

1B – Orlando Arcia

CF – Cristian Pache

This will obviously change with more moves made, which will without a doubt happen. A World Series title defense does not start with your starting 1st baseman being a converted Shortstop.

The projected Atlanta Braves rotation is probably pretty close to reality

Fangraphs has the current rotation as:

SP1 – Max Fried

SP2 – Charlie Morton

SP3 – Ian Anderson

SP4 – Huascar Ynoa

SP5 – Tucker Davidson

Before Mike Soroka comes back, it is likely that the rotation will looks very similar to this. Which pitcher is SP1 or SP2 is really just a formality, so the numbering could easily be different.

Fangraphs also projected the bench and bullpen, but with many moves to be made, it is almost pointless to list here.

Projecting what the actual Atlanta Braves roster will look like

Like stated earlier, the goal of this exercise is to project the roster once Soroka and Acuña Jr. come back to get a visual of what the team will look like once optimized. We will also factor in some trade scenarios or free agent signings.

It should also be noted that this is not a projection of the batting order because theoretically you should have 4 different lineups if there is no universal DH, and 2 if there is. The rotation is in no particular order because it is in large part a formality when you get into which pitcher is the SP1 vs SP2, etc.

Another caveat here is that there is a possibility of platoon splits being utilized in the outfield. Ronald Acuña Jr. is serviceable in CF defensively, but elite in RF. There is a good possibility that we will see some shifting around in the outfield based on if the Braves are facing off against a LHP or a RHP. Because of this, we will refrain from limiting which outfield slot a player is in.

Next, since we are making the educated guess that there will be a universal DH, it is important to note that in today’s game, it is getting more and more common to not have a single bat as your DH. It is more efficient to use the slot as a way to give players some rest, whilst still utilizing their bat. However, we will list the player that is projected to have the most at bats in the DH slot.

Atlanta Braves Starting Lineup (in no particular order) including Acuña

C – Travis D’Arnaud

1B – Freddie Freeman

2B – Ozzie Albies

3B – Austin Riley

SS – Dansby Swanson

OF ­– Ronald Acuña Jr.

OF ­– Adam Duvall

OF ­– Bryan Reynolds

DH ­– Marcell Ozuna

It should go without saying, but it needs to be said that just because Ozuna is projected as the DH, that does not mean that is what is wanted. In a perfect world, the Atlanta Braves could somehow move this contract and get a fresh start from the whole situation. No matter what happens, there will be controversy.

With Ozuna’s retroactive suspension, it puts the Atlanta organization in a bind. They are still on the hook for his remaining salary. Is there a situation where Alex Anthopoulos works his magic and gets someone to eat the contract? It is possible. Remember the Matt Kemp trade with the Dodgers? However, this is a different situation because there is more money involved.

With such a large chunk of money and contract length still being owed, it is more likely that Ozuna will be on the Atlanta Braves roster. The real question is if they will play him.

Two other eye openers are the projection that the Atlanta Braves will make a splash and acquire Bryan Reynolds from the Pirates, and not re-signing any other outfielder besides Adam Duvall.

The Pirates are bad. Their fans would hate to see Reynolds go, but they need to accelerate their rebuild if they want to compete anytime soon. The Braves have the pieces if they want to make this happen. Reynolds is the type of talent you pay a ransom for, and is worth it.

In a perfect world, Adam Duvall would be a platoon guy. His defense is elite, but his offense against LHP is average at best. He has pop, but does not get on base very well (.286 OBP). If the Braves are willing to spend big, they could bring back Eddie Rosario to platoon with Duvall.

However, the only way it makes sense for Rosario to come back if the Braves acquire Reynolds though, is if they can get someone to eat Ozuna’s contract and they rotated OFers into the DH slot so that Rosario is guaranteed every day at bats. Rosario is rightfully so going to be looking for a full time job.

Freddie Freeman is obviously not 100% guaranteed to come back, but odds lean in that direction.

Atlanta Braves Rotation (in no particular order) including Soroka

Like stated earlier, it is no guarantee when Soroka will be back, especially since he can’t use team trainers during the lockout. For the sake of getting a good picture of what the optimized rotation will look like though, let’s look at the rotation once he comes back:

SP – Max Fried

SP – Charlie Morton

SP – Ian Anderson

SP – Mike Soroka

SP – Tucker Davidson

SP – Huascar Ynoa

Yes, you read that right, 6 rotation arms. It is becoming more and more common for teams to deploy a 6th man in the rotation every other time through or so. Ultimately, it looks like Ynoa will be a bullpen guy if he can’t develop a solid 3rd pitch, but he could be the first in line to have that 6th spot when the time comes.

Atlanta Braves Bullpen

Having the core of your World Series winning bullpen coming back is a beautiful thing

LHP – Will Smith

LHP – Tyler Matzek

RHP –Luke Jackson

LHP – A.J. Minter

RHP – Jacob Webb

LHP – Sean Newcomb

First, it should be noted that the bullpen will be in constant flux all season long. This is just the nature of how modern bullpens work.

It may be noticed that there is an omission of Touki Toussaint, and Jay Jackson. This does not mean we will not see them. It simply is due to them having a minor league option left. Because of this, they will most likely float between the minors and the majors this season. Both are right handed, which the Braves are lacking, so odds play heavily that they will see action.

For this same reason, this is why you see Sean Newcomb, even though it could be argued that Jay Jackson and Touki Toussaint bring more to the table. Newcomb has no minor league options left, so he would be subject to waivers, rather than just simply being sent down to AAA (this is, of course, being said not knowing if the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will change this procedure or not).

It may seem thin with only 6 arms, but if you factor in Ynoa as a 6th rotation guy that will also see time in the bullpen, it is really 7.

The Braves did sign Kirby Yates, but he is out till at least midseason due to Tommy John Surgery.

Atlanta Braves Bench

C – Manny Piña

OF – Guillermo Heredia

UTIL – Orlando Arcia

UTIL – Ehire Adrianza

The bench may seem thin, but remember with a DH slot, there will be much less of a need for a pinch hitter. The DH also effectively fills a spot as well because players can rotate in and out of that slot game by game.

The bench is the most difficult to predict because there are many variables that can drastically change the outcome. If a lot of money is spent on starters, then the funds reserved for the bench could suffer. The bench could also drastically change if trades are made prior to the season.

The projection here is based on the rest of the roster that has been projected and the funds and trades it would take to get there. For example, if Bryan Reynolds is on the team, that likely means one or more top prospects like Cristian Pache and others who would have a possibility of occupying a 26-man roster spot, are no longer a viable option.

It should also be noted that a top prospect would not be called up to occupy a bench spot, so if the Braves were to have the above projected outfield, they would not call up a top prospect just to sit the bench and not develop.

Manny Piña, Orlando Arcia, and Guillermo Heredia are already under contract. Ehire Adrianza would require re-signing. Adrianza is more so a default projection based on the other players already projected than anything else. He is a familiar face that the Braves will know what they are paying for, and he should not cost much payroll.

dark. Next. 3 Moves the Atlanta Braves Have to Make When the Lockout Ends

Let’s hear your projections in the comments!