With all of the focus surrounding Freddie Freeman and first base, there is a lot of work to do in the Atlanta Braves outfield as well before the season starts.
The Atlanta Braves outfield became a mess in 2021 once Ronald Acuna Jr. went down, and even before that with Marcell Ozuna’s injury and domestic violence case.
As has been covered a few times, Alex Anthopoulos masterfully revamped that outfield at the trade deadline, which led to a World Series championship.
But as we enter the 2022 season, those same concerns before the 2021 deadline remain.
Marly Rivera reported over the weekend that Ronald Acuna Jr. is hoping for a May return. However, Acuna himself said on Monday that if it were up to him, he’d play Opening Day.
Let’s assume that Acuna won’t be ready to go right away and will return in May — I’m optimistic he returns in mid-April.
Braves Current Outfield Options without Acuna
Option 1 — Ozuna — LF, Pache — CF, Duvall — RF
Option 2 — Ozuna — LF, Heredia — CF, Duvall — RF
Option 3 — Heredia — LF, Pache — CF, Duvall — RF
Option 4 — Riley — LF, Pache — CF, Duvall — RF
As you can see, none of those options are exactly ideal. And as the roster stands, I don’t see any way you don’t have Pache in there.
Acuna coming back will certainly help calm things down. An outfield of Ozuna, Duvall, and Acuna looks a lot better on paper.
What’s interesting, is the Braves were reportedly in on Nelson Cruz, which could mean Atlanta is comfortable with putting Ozuna back in the outfield.
He’ll play some outfield in 2022, but the Braves would likely prefer him at DH in the majority of games.
Also, every outfielder on the 40-man roster is right-handed with the exception of Drew Wates who is a switch-hitter.
As the Braves look to upgrade the outfield before the season — and the whole point of writing this is to point out they need to add to the outfield if that wasn’t clear — they need to target a left-handed hitter.
I know one who was huge in helping the Braves win a World Series last year that is still available…
What is your ideal outfield scenario with the current roster? And who would you like to see Atlanta target for the outfield this offseason? Let us know below.