4 Braves players that may have lost their roster spot this offseason

The Braves have been pretty busy this offseason and it looks like all these moves could have cost some guys their jobs.

Apr 28, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Vaughn Grissom (18) forces out
Apr 28, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Vaughn Grissom (18) forces out / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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While the Atlanta Braves haven't yet fully addressed their rotation this offseason, that does not mean they have remained idle. Alex Anthopoulos has been a busy boy as he has made multiple trades to bolster the bullpen, add Jarred Kelenic to play left field, and to cull the 40 man roster significantly this offseason. One can have quibbles over the actual moves themselves, but it is clear that the Braves are continuing to look for ways to get better going into 2024.

For the most part, the Braves' lineup is going to look the same next season outside of the addition of Kelenic who will be replacing Eddie Rosario. It is theoretically possible that the Braves could try to make an position player upgrade, but that isn't altogether likely. Other additions to the bullpen are certainly on the table and the Braves remain firmly in search of another rotation arm, but there are several Braves whose current spots on the roster are in severe jeopardy even if the team doesn't make another move this offseason.

Here are the Braves players whose roster spots are in jeopardy going into 2024

Nothing is certain just yet. Due to the freeze on the free agent market because of Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, this offseason is moving quite a bit slower overall than we are used to. We could see more moves that could alter the Braves' decision calculus significantly going into spring training. However, it cannot be denied that with all of the moves Atlanta has made this offseason, fans should expect the roster to look quite a bit different next season with several guys we are used to seeing on the outside looking in.

Let's take a look at some of the Braves players whose futures with Atlanta are very much in doubt after all of the Braves' activity this offseason.

Vaughn Grissom

Yet again, Vaughn Grissom has been the subject of a weirdly aggressive PR campaign this offseason. Last offseason, there was a ton of talk about how much work Vaughn did during the offseason to improve defensively and it seemed like he was the favorite to win the starting shortstop spot after Dansby Swanson left. The end result? Orlando Arcia surprising won the job out of spring training and Grissom played the vast majority of the 2023 season at Triple-A where he dominated at the plate.

Going into 2024, the Braves very clearly like Vaughn's bat or, at the very least, they want the rest of the league to think so. It wasn't long ago at all that we saw multiple articles from Braves beat writers beating the drum of putting Grissom in left field to free money up to go after a high end starting pitcher despite the fact that Vaughn has no experience in the outfield.

With the Braves coming out of nowhere to trade for Kelenic, a former top prospect in baseball with an All-Star ceiling, that illusion has been shattered. Atlanta didn't take on the money needed to snag Kelenic to have him to share playing time with a guy that has never played left in the big leagues before. Not only does that not make sense to do to Kelenic, but having Vaughn on the big league roster as a part-time at best player who only hits against lefties hurts his value as well.

Right now, Vaughn is a player without a position to play on the Braves. Having too much talent in the organization is not an actual problem, but sending Grissom to repeat at Triple-A again also seems wasteful. The best guess is that the Braves will try to use Vaughn as the centerpiece of a trade to get a starting pitcher and let the chips fall where they may when it comes to Kelenic's platoon splits.

Dylan Dodd

The Braves' starting rotation is in a pretty weird spot at the moment. The mortal locks are Spencer Strider, Max Fried, and Charlie Morton. Unless one of them gets hurt during the offseason or in spring training, you are going to see all three of those guys on the Opening Day roster. However, things get a lot more speculative after that.

Assuming a world where the Braves do indeed give the fourth spot in the rotation to Bryce Elder (more on him in a bit), that leaves the fifth spot in the rotation as an open competition amongst the young guns in spring training assuming the Braves don't add another starter. For Dylan Dodd, that is less than good news.

The Braves moving Jared Shuster, Kyle Wright, and Mike Soroka helps Dodd's case going into 2024, but there are still some obstacles in his way. After impressing last spring training, Dodd struggled in limited time in the big leagues in 2023 with a 7.60 ERA in 34.1 innings as he battled arm soreness for a chunk of the season. His numbers in the minor leagues and in the Arizona Fall League weren't much better.

While Dodd can look really impressive when he is on, his inconsistency in 2023 was maddening and complicating matters is that he has some real competition for that last starting spot going into 2024. AJ Smith-Shawver had his ups and downs in his first look at the big leagues, but he clearly has more upside than Dodd given his stuff. Hurston Waldrep just got drafted in the first round and he impressed so much in his pro debut that AA has already said that he is expecting him to be ready sometime next season. After that, you have guys like Allan Winans, Darius Vines, or even the returning Huascar Ynoa that all are on the 40 man roster and who all could get a look.

Is anything certain at the moment? No, but all of the uncertainty in the Braves' rotation right now probably doesn't help Dodd's cause unless he can show that he made real strides this offseason.

Bryce Elder

This one requires a bit more speculation because on the whole, Bryce Elder did his job in 2023. Yes yes, he definitely faded in the second half as he got gassed from throwing the most innings he ever had, but the guy still posted a 3.81 ERA in 31 starts last season and made the All-Star team. As a fourth or fifth starter, you take that every time.

However, there are enough concerns about Elder's ability to handle a starter's workload over a full season in addition to his peripherals that his spot in the rotation is far from certain. He definitely deserves praise for the work he did in the first half, but there was some smoke and mirrors associated with that and for all of 2023, he got hit hard and didn't miss enough bats. That does not project well.

Again, the top three spots in the rotation are locked up. If we assume that another spot will be occupied by either one of the young guys mentioned in the Dodd section OR by a new addition that comes later in the offseason, that still leaves room for Elder. Where things get sticky is from another signing the Braves made earlier this offseason in Reynaldo Lopez.

Lopez was a starting pitching prospect of note for a while before he was converted into being a strong reliever. While there is a strong argument to be made that he should remain a bullpen arm, the Braves seem to think that Lopez could become a starter again and are going to let him stretch out this offseason to give it a go. Given the quality of Lopez's raw stuff, Elder could end up on the outside looking in if that conversion goes well.

There are a lot of moving parts here, so no one should assume anything right now. There is a strong likelihood that we won't know how the Braves' rotation will shake out until we see how all of these guys look this spring. However, Elder's spot on the Braves' roster is far from certain and that is especially true if the Braves add another arm either in free agency or in another trade.

Dylan Lee

Finally, we come to the bullpen which should be a strength of the Braves roster next season. Atlanta has postseason hero Tyler Matzek coming back from Tommy John surgery, added Aaron Bummer, Angel Perdomo, and (probably) Reynaldo Lopez, and brought back Joe Jimenez and Pierce Johnson. Once you factor in returning relief studs Raisel Iglesias and AJ Minter, the Braves' bullpen is incredibly deep at the moment which you love to see.

Unfortunately, that isn't great news for Dylan Lee. Even if you ignore the fact that Lee couldn't get healthy last year due to issues with his throwing shoulder, the Braves' bullpen depth poses an issue for Lee's future. Right now, the Braves already have lefties Minter, Matzek, Bummer, and with Perdomo inked to a split contract as well. That is a lot of competition for innings just among the southpaws.

Could the Braves opt to carry Lee in the bullpen? Sure, especially if he is fully healthy. Atlanta does tend to like to carry an extra reliever right out of spring training and Lee has a track record of production. However, with all of the arms the Braves have at their disposal, it wouldn't be surprising whatsoever if Lee finds himself without a big league roster spot or even with another organization in 2024.

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