Atlanta Braves fall clean up prepares them for a holiday shopping spree

Late Friday evening, the Atlanta Braves finished their fall cleaning checklist by decluttering their closet.
The Atlanta Braves had high hopes for righty Mike Soroka, but injuries kept him from reaching them. Now, he gets a new start with a new team.
The Atlanta Braves had high hopes for righty Mike Soroka, but injuries kept him from reaching them. Now, he gets a new start with a new team. / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves postseason checklist included several essentials that would prepare the team for another shot at a championship in 2024. The club picked up their option on Charlie Morton and declined the final option year of Eddie Rosario’s contract, then opened the door on a garage sale. CNET's Macy Meyer offered a few tips for fall cleaning day and the Braves hit all of them.

" “It can be tough getting rid of pieces you've had in your closet for a long time…(but) the last thing any of us need is a cluttered closet…”"

Macey Meyer

Earlier in the week, Atlanta chose not to add any of their Rule 5 eligible players to the 40-man roster.

"… (everyone has) that one item we always keep as a "goal" item…"

Macy Meyer

For a baseball team, a goal item is that player who will fill an important role someday but has never consistently fit. On Thursday, the club sent two “goal” players (Mike Soroka and Brandon Shewmake), two non-tender candidates, and Nicky Lopez to the White Sox and added Aaron Bummer to the Braves bullpen.

Then, they began pruning the arbitration-eligible-but-no-place-to-put-him tree.

Kansas City Star?

Kansas City Royals v Baltimore Orioles / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

The first to leave was Nick Anderson, who headed to KC for the ubiquitous cash considerations. Later in the day, the Braves swapped Kyle Wright for Jackson Kowar.

There’s not much separating those pitchers; Wright has a bigger arsenal, but Kowar throws a plus-fastball and features a 70-grade changeup.

If Kyle were healthy, he’d still be a Brave, but he isn’t. Kowar’s ceiling as a starter is the same as Wright’s but he might well become a back-of-the-bullpen reliever. 

The best ability is availability. Kowar is healthy and earned a fourth MiLB option; he gives the Braves roster flexibility Wright couldn't offer.

The Braves ended the day by handing out pink slips to a handful of players, and when the dust settled, the 40-man roster had 10 vacancies, and only five arbitration-eligible players remained.

Atlanta Braves: What now?

Atlanta Braves POBO/GM Alex Anthopoulos has three significant issues to resolve – well, four, if you count an extension for Max Fried, but that’s a very long shot.

The club needs include:

  • Adding at least one, perhaps two, starting pitchers,
  • Adding a left fielder – preferably a left-handed batter – who plays sound defense and
  • Adding depth of a high enough caliber to provide cover in the event of an injury, as well as give players a day off now and then.

Dumping 25% of the active roster may appear to make trades more difficult, but none of the non-tendered players had significant trade value. Any trade for a front-line starter or more than a stop-gap left fielder would have included a highly-ranked prospect before the roster shakeup, just as it will today. Believing otherwise is pure fantasy. 

That’s a Wrap

I still believe the Atlanta Braves will trade for either their new left fielder, a pitcher, or both. While this morning’s news that the Braves were in on Aaron Nola casts doubt on the belief that they won't sign free agents with a Qualifying offer attached, it doesn’t mean they’re going to get into a bidding war over Blake Snell or Sonny Gray.

None of the prospects we’ve seen are ready to give the Braves 30+ starts and 180+ innings in 2024, and we’ve seen what happens when a team loses a couple of starters. TINSTAAPP is real. Don’t be surprised if your favorite, can’t-miss, superstar-in-waiting prospect is wearing a new uniform next season.

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