4 front office mistakes that cost the Atlanta Braves dearly in 2023

The Braves' made some critical errors over the last year or so that proved to be quite painful this season.

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins
Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Braves' 2023 season did not end the way fans would have preferred to be sure after another ugly playoff exit against the Phillies, but there was still a lot to like about this season overall. The Braves have one of the most exciting young cores in all of baseball and the offense seemed to be setting record on a nightly basis towards the end of the season. The future is bright in Atlanta even if that is hard to see right now.

However, for the Braves to come back and truly contend for another World Series title in 2024, they cannot afford to make the same mistakes that plagued them in 2023. For everything that went right for the team in 2023, they did have some bad luck as well as some self-inflicted wounds that proved to be very costly especially at the end of the season.

Here are 4 front office mistakes that cost the Atlanta Braves dearly in 2023

To be clear, the Braves' 2023 season was by and large a huge success even if there is a large chunk of the fanbase that are firmly in the "what have you done for me lately?" camp. After all, this is a team that won a 104 games this year and is likely to be among the best teams in the league yet again next season. There were some missteps, though, that made navigating the 2023 season all the more difficult and are fair to point out as a result.

Lets take a look at the mistakes that cost the Braves in 2023.

Not adding another starting pitcher last offseason was brutal for the Braves

The Braves' offseason before the 2023 season was an interesting one. Their biggest move was to acquire Sean Murphy in a three-team trade with Oakland and Milwaukee that brought Atlanta their primary catcher for the foreseeable future even though it did cost them William Contreras who played his brains out for the Brewers this season.

The biggest issue with their offseason, though, is that the Braves did not add any meaningful depth at starting pitcher and that was a problem from the start. Sure, Spencer Strider and Max Fried at the top of the rotation was/is a fearsome 1-2 punch and Atlanta couldn't have realistically foreseen Fried missing a big chunk of the season, but there were signs going into 2023 that the Braves should have addressed their rotation depth either in another trade or in free agency.

Charlie Morton wasn't a young man coming into the season after the Braves brought him back, Kyle Wright had had only had the one good season in 2022 and was dealing with shoulder issues as far back as January, and the Braves' final rotation spot was already in flux heading into spring training with most of their internal options have some kind of warts to their candidacies. With that much uncertainty, Alex Anthopoulos should absolutely have brought in another veteran starter to help the Braves eat innings while they figured which of their young arms they liked.

To be fair, the Braves didn't COMPLETELY ignore the rotation as they did trade the ghost of Jake Odorizzi to the Rangers for old friend Kolby Allard. However, Kolby's major league career had not inspired a ton of confidence to begin with and he ended up on the 60 day IL with nerve inflammation in his shoulder. The Braves simply should have done more here, plain and simple.

The Braves staying (mostly) quiet at the trade deadline was an error

The 2023 trade deadline was a weird one as the market seemed to be slanted very much in favor of the few teams that were actually sellers at the deadline. Several of the teams that were out of it didn't have much to pilfer on their rosters and the few teams that did have worthwhile players (Cardinals, White Sox, Tigers) were asking for a king's ransom for the top names available.

That said, the trade deadline for the Braves was pretty disappointing overall. After Atlanta acquired Nicky Lopez, Brad Hand, and Pierce Johnson (all fine moves especially Johnson) ahead of the deadline, the Braves decided to stand pat the rest of the way even with an obvious need at starting pitcher with both Max Fried and Kyle Wright on the shelf.

We will never know how hard the Braves were pushing at the trade deadline to address their rotation and it is entirely possible that they were working hard behind the scenes to go after some big names. However, when Lucas Giolito, Jordan Montgomery, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Michael Lorenzen, and Aaron Civale all finding new teams at the deadline, it was a bummer to see the Braves not get any of them.

Atlanta did dodge some bullets, though, regarding the starting pitcher trade market as Giolito and Lorenzen were pretty bad after they were trade. The Mets possessing both Scherzer and Verlander made those deals basically impossible to make as well even if the Braves were willing to jack their payroll up enough to acquire them. However, Montgomery and Civale would have both been fantastic additions and unfortunately, the Braves came up empty instead.

Unlike previous years, a lot of the Braves' minor moves didn't work out

Alex Anthopoulos has a well-earned reputation of being a guy that is better than almost anyone out there when it comes to finding value in the bargain bin. From the trade deadline in 2021 that saw the Braves bring in Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall, and Joc Pederson who all helped the Braves win the title to minor additions like Orlando Arcia and Tyler Matzek providing big time value, this front office knows what they like and typically are great at identifying players that can help the big league roster.

Unfortunately, that wasn't really the case in 2023 as most of the minor moves Atlanta made before and during the season didn't pan out. Sam Hilliard, Kolby Allard, Dennis Santana, Hoy Park, and Eli White were all offseason moves that had some amount of potential but, because of injuries or good ol' fashioned not being good enough, that didn't provide any real value to the Braves this season.

The Braves' moves during the season were more of the same. Taylor Hearn was a Brave for about 10 minutes in 2023 and he was REALLY bad during that short window. Atlanta claimed Yonny Chirinos off of waivers in July and fans were clamoring for him to be taken out of the rotation almost as soon as he took the mound for the Braves. Andrew Velasquez was a late season waiver claim from the Angels that didn't end up doing anything for them.

No front office is going to have a 100% success rate shopping in the clearance aisle. However, it was a bit unsettling to see the Braves basically come up empty given how good they had been in the past.

The Braves' "starting rotation shuffle" didn't help anyone, including the team

This is a tough one because in fairness to the Braves, they got dealt a pretty bad hand when it comes to their pitching situation in 2023. Michael Soroka, Ian Anderson, and Kyle Wright were all hurt before spring training ended and Max Fried's elbow started giving him problems not long after that. Charlie Morton's finger injury right at the end of the regular season was the cherry on top. Losing that many pitchers that were being counted on is tough for any team and the Braves were just trying to make do with what they had available.

However, the constant tinkering and shuffling and new faces didn't do anyone any favors in 2023. AJ Smith-Shawver was rushed through the minor leagues and while he still has a very bright future, throwing him into the fire so soon didn't seem to help his development. Dylan Dodd's command wasn't there this season and constantly bouncing him back and forth from Gwinnett to the big leagues likely didn't do him any favors. Jared Shuster's struggles were largely his doing, but he also never really got the chance to settle in and make the changes he needed to make in the minors.

Again, the Braves were in a tough situation this season and sometimes you do what you have to do. However, they cycled through a lot of arms in search of a solution and along the way, they never really gave guys a chance to figure things out after a rough start or to stay down and make adjustments. The Gwinnett Shuttle was particularly real in 2023 and after the dust settled, the Braves aren't really any closer to figuring out which of these young arms they can trust going forward nor did they really get much out of them in 2023.

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