Atlanta Braves 40-man roster is short on players with minor league options

The Atlanta Braves' active roster is packed with young stars on both sides of the ball, but a lack of optionable players could make accessing the club’s pitching depth difficult.
Atlanta Braves depends to a great extent om more consistency from closer Raisel Iglesias.
Atlanta Braves depends to a great extent om more consistency from closer Raisel Iglesias. / John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Raw numbers reflect 18 players with options on the Braves’ 40-man roster, but as with many things, numbers alone don’t tell the whole story. Here’s a breakdown of the players with options.

  • Two players who will open the season on the IL have options: Ian Anderson (1) and Penn Murfee (3).
  • Four players with options will, barring injury or unforeseen circumstance, be in the lineup every day: Harris II, Kelenic, Murphy, and Riley.
  • Projected fourth-outfielders J.P. Martinez and Forrest Wall have options.
  • Two projected starters have options, Strider and Elder, and the Braves don't plan to send them down.
  • The opening day bullpen will have no more than two, probably Lee and one from Kerr.
  • Six pitchers not currently projected on the opening day roster have options: Dodd, Hernandez, Smith-Shawver, Vines, Winans, and Ynoa.

The projected 26-man roster includes only three players the Braves are likely to option four times during the year, Wall and two relievers, and this could present problems, particularly in the bullpen.

Bullpen Flexibility – Not So Much

As Austin wrote Tuesday, the bullpen has several questions to answer. On paper, it appears strong and deep, but two relievers are returning from injury; no bullpen goes through a season without injuries, and reliever performance is always hard to predict. That's why Atlanta Braves POBO and GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke often about the need for bullpen flexibility.

If everything goes as planned – it never does – I project an opening day bullpen that includes:

  • Raisel Iglesias
  • A.J. Minter
  • Reynaldo López
  • Joe Jiménez
  • Pierce Johnson
  • Tyler Matzek
  • Aaron Bummer
  • Dylan Lee
  • Ray Kerr

Fangraphs predicts the pen will include Jackson Stephens. Stephens is on a split contract and out of options. The club pays him Major League pay for only the days he’s on the active roster, but he still requires an option to return to the minors without passing through waivers.

Braves Bench Bats?

I expect Luis Guillorme to join Travis d’Arnaud, Forest Wall, and two others not yet on the roster as Brian Snitker’s bench. I believe the club will add a veteran bat before spring training starts, or when other teams start shedding players, because what we have now doesn’t look good enough. Joey Votto anyone?

If the Braves do need to reach for an internal option, there are 13 AAA players (six pitchers) and one AA pitcher in the system with Major League experience and options remaining.

That’s A Wrap

If everyone stays healthy, Atlanta Braves’ manager Brian Snitker could make out two lineup cards, one with Murphy and one with d’Arnaud, in March and add a pitcher at game time to be ready for 150+ games a year. But it’s doubtful that everyone will stay healthy. The lineup is deep enough to hide a weak bat for a while, but the bullpen is a concern.