How the Atlanta Braves roster would look if the season started today

If the 2024 season began today, the Atlanta Braves would still carry one of baseball's best rosters.

Chicago White Sox v Atlanta Braves
Chicago White Sox v Atlanta Braves / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Braves find themselves in a unique situation in which most of their team is returning for 2024. There wasn't a massive need going into the offseason besides improving pitching depth.

Alex Anthopoulos hasn't made the "big splash" everyone has likely been hoping for. However, he has added the necessary pieces to improve the aforementioned pitching depth.

Starting pitching has certainly been the talk of the offseason as a good bit of Braves fans feel there is a need to add another quality starter to the mix. While that certainly wouldn't hurt, there's plenty of reason for Atlanta's front office to believe they are fine with in-house options.

Atlanta Braves offseason so far

AA kicked things off by extending Pierce Johnson and Joe Jimenez. Both pitchers ended up being very important parts of the Atlanta bullpen in 2023 and earned their extensions. Atlanta also exercised their team option to bring back Charlie Morton.

With two cornerstone bullpen options and one starting option secured, AA knew there was more to do to improve an already talented bullpen with a couple of holes to fill.

This led to a five-player trade for LHP Aaron Bummer. The Braves sent Michael Soroka, Nicky Lopez, Jared Shuster, Braden Shewmake, and Riley Gowens to the White Sox in return. Bummer gives the Braves a very nice left-handed option in the late innings.

A few days later RHP Reynaldo Lopez was brought over to Atlanta on a 3-year, $30 million deal. He was the first free agent signed by the Braves during the offseason. It was announced shortly after that Lopez would be stretched out with the potential to fill a starting role for Atlanta. If not, he will be a great addition to the relief core.

Jarred Kelenic was then acquired from the Mariners along with Marco Gonzales and Evan White. The Braves took on a couple of bad contracts to acquire five years of control for Kelenic who has so much potential and could fill the left-field void for the Braves.

Gonzales and White were both later moved as they were never a part of Atlanta's plans in 2024. Gonzales was traded to the Pirates for a player to be named later. The Braves did move White to the Angels in exchange for David Fletcher and Max Stassi. Fletcher was the centerpiece of that move. Stassi was later moved.

Lastly, lefty flamethrower Ray Kerr was acquired from the Padres and provides Atlanta with another excellent option out of the bullpen. So, as you see, pitching has been the main focus of the offseason but not in the way many expected. Atlanta feels good about where they are regardless of any outside concerns.

What if the Atlanta Braves season began today?

If the season began today, the Braves lineup would remain practically unchanged outside of the void created when Eddie Rosario was non-tendered. This is how Snit would likely fill out his lineup card:

1. Ronald Acuna Jr.
2. Ozzie Albies
3. Austin Riley
4. Matt Olson
5. Marcell Ozuna
6. Sean Murphy/Travis d'Arnaud
7. Jarred Kelenic/Vaughn Grissom
8. Orlando Arcia
9. Michael Harris II

2023 NL MVP Ronald Acuna would of course be at the top of the lineup. Why fix what isn't broken? Then the Braves have a gauntlet for opposing pitchers to navigate with Albies, Riley, Olson, Ozuna, and Murphy or TDA.

If I were to point out any potential weakness it lies in the 7-8 spot as Kelenic and Grissom could struggle and with Arcia you never know what version of him you will get. Will it be the first half from 2023 Arcia or the second half version?

Michael Harris II could start slow like he did last year but more than likely he will be a great option hitting in front of Acuna. Pitchers are almost forced to face the lefty with sneaky power threat.

I'm almost certain that is going to be the exact lineup we see on Opening Day. Atlanta does not need to add another offensive option outside of the bench.

Right now, the Braves bench is comprised of Kelenic/Grissom, TDA/Murphy, and Forrest Wall. Two spots remain unfilled on the bench and I expect David Fletcher to take one of them. Your guess is as good as mine as to who the final choice will be. However, Atlanta did sign outfielder Leury Garcia on a MiLB deal so he is a candidate.

Now, what about the pitching?

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

Atlanta Braves rotation and bullpen as of today

We know what the top 3 of Atlanta's rotation will be when 2024 rolls around and that includes Spencer Strider, Max Fried, and Charlie Morton. Bryce Elder is certainly an option as he showed promise in the first half of 2023 but regressed horribly in the second half. So he isn't a lock for the rotation.

Reynaldo Lopez is an option for the rotation obviously but Spring Training will determine if that is a reality or not. So, for now, we will consider him as the Braves 4th starting option. That leaves Bryce Elder, AJ Smith-Shawver, Darius Vines, Allan Winans, Huascar Ynoa, and Dylan Dodd as options to cover the final rotation spot unless Atlanta finds another external option.

There's an outside chance Hurston Waldrep could work himself into the conversation but I wouldn't bet on it. He's moving up quickly but don't expect him to be on the roster come Opening Day.

As far as the bullpen goes, Atlanta will feature mostly familiar faces with some new blood in the mix. The main question mark we have is for the long relief role as Michael Tonkin, who held the role in 2023, is no longer with the organization.

Reynaldo Lopez is an option for that role should the team feel he isn't ready to be a starter but being stretched out to prepare for the possibility may present a perfect opportunity for him. If the Braves surprise everyone and trade for someone like Dylan Cease, that certainly would make the decision a bit easier.

However, any of the names I mentioned as potential for the fifth starting spot could easily fit as long relief options. Huascar Ynoa is one to certainly keep an eye on as he makes his return from injury. He was a nice surprise for the Braves a couple of years ago so we know he has the ability. Long relief could serve as a great way to work himself back into shape before being a starter again.

As for the entire list of names available for the bullpen they are as follows (bold indicates players who are assumed a lock for the bullpen):

LHP Aaron Bummer
LHP Dylan Dodd
RHP Daysbel Hernandez
RHP Raisel Iglesias
RHP Joe Jimenez
RHP Pierce Johnson
LHP Ray Kerr
LHP Dylan Lee
RHP Reynaldo Lopez
LHP Tyler Matzek
LHP A.J. Minter
LHP Angel Perdomo
RHP Allan Winans
RHP Huascar Ynoa

There are a lot of good options for the Braves, especially in the southpaw department. There are some question marks on the list but it shows that Atlanta has done a good job building pitching depth over the last couple of seasons.

Dylan Lee is recovering from shoulder surgery so he may not be immediately available and Tyler Matzek is returning from Tommy John surgery. So, it explains why Atlanta made sure to have a lot of left-handed options available.

I know it can be difficult to see the Braves not adding a big free agent as a sign of the team not improving but after looking at this breakdown of the roster, I hope you realize just how well-prepared Atlanta already is for 2024.

Sure, I won't complain if they add another quality starter but the in-house options are pretty solid if they don't. If there is a need as we approach the trade deadline, AA will make sure to address the need appropriately. Braves fans are lucky to have a GM who doesn't panic and knows the right buttons to push at the appropriate time.

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