Braves mailbag: Awaiting a splash move, Fried's future, bullpen order, and more

In our fan mailbag we answer questions on various Braves topics asked by YOU the fan. In this edition we touch on Max Fried's future, the 2024 bullpen pecking order, and much more.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Atlanta Braves
Pittsburgh Pirates v Atlanta Braves / Alex Slitz/GettyImages
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The offseason feels to be reaching that slumber part that arrives near Christmas every year. Alex Anthopoulos stuck to his offseason script once again and made a flurry of moves before the holiday has come. I'm starting to think AA is a devoted family man, and simply wants to work as little as possible come late December.

With this lull in action in the Braves baseball world, we take the time to answer YOUR fan submitted questions in this mailbag post. We got plenty of great questions, and we thank each of you who took the time to suggest topics to discuss. Without further ado let's get right into it.

Where is the splash move?

On every article we publish this offseason, this question seems to be asked. And for good reason; I'm with you Braves fans. We know the Braves are a very good team, maybe even the best in baseball already. Why isn't this window being taken advantage of?

Allow me to answer my own, and all of yours, question here. Splash moves are still there to be had even as we approach the new year. What we've learned about Anthopoulos is that he doesn't make a move for the sake of making a move. He has to like the player, and he has to get said player on a deal that makes sense for the organization.

The Braves were never going to be contenders for Ohtani, Nola got serious money and years to stay at home in Philadelphia, and every other move this offseason could be argued that Anthopoulos simply didn't like those players to the degree that was being reported. Such as Sonny Gray and Tyler Glasnow, a couple of names Atlanta was heavily mentioned around, but ultimately saw go elsewhere.

Despite what the reports say, I would venture to guess AA doesn't like giving multi-year deals to older pitchers (Gray is 34), as well trading real prospects for a guy who just hit the 120 IP mark for the first time in his eight-year career.

There are still names out there that could be defined as a splash move (Yamamoto, Snell, Montgomery, Cease), so don't rule it out just yet. It always is going to boil down to how much the front office likes these players and if they can get them on a deal that makes sense for the Braves.

Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game Two
Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game Two / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

Does Max Fried have a future with the Braves?

This is going to a frequent question for nearly a calendar year, until Fried hits the free agent market in all likelihood. In regards to immediate future, he's a Brave for 2024. I can say that with a lot of certainty, AA isn't going to subtract from an already spotty looking rotation.

However, beyond 2024 is the real question here. To answer that is impossible right now. We don't know which pitching starved teams will be interested in Fried next year and just how much money they will be willing to shell out. Recently, it was reported that Fried had extension talks with the Braves prior to the 2023 season, but those talks reached an impasse.

If was a betting man I would bet that Max reaches free agency and cashes in big time, being that he is this close to doing so. Like you, I really hope that happens with Atlanta, but that part remains to be seen.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves
Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

Who amongst the current bullpen makes the Opening Day roster?

This is a fun one to break down, as Atlanta has perhaps the deepest bullpen in all of baseball. It was already a strong unit prior to the offseason, and then AA traded for a couple lefties, as well as signed three right-handed options. With all that said I'm going to do my best to establish a pecking order amongst the guys I think will be on the Opening Day roster.

Typically the Braves prioritize pitching throughout the year in terms of roster construction. Most of their position players are in everyday roles, so having flexibility in the bullpen is a real desire for Atlanta. With that said I believe there are eight guys the Braves will carry out the bullpen on Opening Day. I divided those guys into a few categories below.

Locks (5) - Raisel Iglesias, A.J. Minter, Pierce Johnson, Joe Jimenez, Reynaldo Lopez.

Barring injury all of these guys will be on the opening day roster. Firstly, they all are making the most money in the bullpen, and secondly they are the most trusted options. The only caveat is if the Braves truly intend on using Lopez out the rotation or not. If that actually ends up coming to fruition another bullpen spot opens up.

Confident they'll be there (2) - Aaron Bummer, Ray Kerr.

These two pitchers are already linked by the fact they are left-handed, as well as being acquired via trade this offseason. To me it's been clear the Braves wanted to add more hard-throwing options, and left-handed options to this bullpen. Both of these guys fit that mold.

Fringe guys (4) - Tyler Matzek, Huascar Ynoa, Dylan Lee, Daysbel Hernandez.

When it's all said and done the Gwinnett Stripers are going to have the best bullpen in Triple-A. No organization can match the depth the Braves have built in terms of relief pitching. I think all of Braves country is rooting for Tyler Matzek to take this final spot, and look more like the postseason hero we know him to be.

However, because I have three lefties already on the roster, I went with Huascar Ynoa to take the last spot in the bullpen. Mainly because his velocity and plus slider play well out the 'pen. On top of that his experience as a starter grants Snit the ability to get multiple innings out of him.

In reality each of those fringe guys, as well as others, will be in Atlanta at some point in 2024. Nobody had Michael Tonkin making the Opening Day roster, but he did. Guys shuffle on and off the injured list all the time in the bullpen, so expect appearances from a plethora of guys again in 2024.

Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

When will we add a starting pitcher?

We will finish off this mailbag by addressing one of the most frequent questions we receive here at HTHB. Numerous free agent pitchers have come and go this offseason. Some, like Aaron Nola, better than others. Some of which, like Seth Lugo, were thought to be perfect fits toward the backend of the rotation.

Believe or not, there are still many names out there that could get innings for Atlanta next year. We mentioned those splash moves possible still (Yamamoto, Snell, Montgomery, Cease), but those don't seem to be up the Braves alley.

Instead let's look at some backend rotation options that could be had at a much lower cost: Lucas Giolito, Sean Manaea, Hyun Jin Ryu, James Paxton, Mike Clevinger, Marcus Stroman, and Michael Lorenzen. Not exactly your cream of the crop to pick from, but Atlanta doesn't need an ace with Fried and Strider in the 2024 rotation.

They need a reliable number 4 to give you innings and keep games manageable for this amazing offense. Thus, why any of those options are viable for AA. If you are asking me to pick one, I lean Ryu. He seems like the prime one-year bounce back candidate for AA. But that is under the assumption the Braves can't pull off a splash move like Cease. Anthopoulos has proven me wrong for assuming things before so I never rule anything out.

I'll end this segment be reiterating the date. It is December 20th, 2023. We still have so much offseason to go. Do not panic, and trust what Anthopoulos is cooking up. The front office has proven right much more often than not in his tenure.

On behalf of the entire team at House That Hank Built, I want to thank you all for sending in your questions! We will do a few more of these this year so be on the lookout on our social media accounts at Facebook and Twitter so that you can send your questions in to us!

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