The Braves may need to add one more reliever before the start of the 2024 season

One of the last decisions the Braves need to make this spring may be somewhat outside their control.
Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves
Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages
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With the Atlanta Braves, the vast majority of their 2024 roster was set in stone coming into camp. Barring injuries, the lineup was a known commodity even if the exact batting order could change a bit and the pitching staff only had a handful of potential openings. As it turns out, running out mostly the same team that has posted back-to-back 100+ win seasons with a couple upgrades here and there is a pretty sound strategy.

One area that has been a bit speculative has been the last couple of spots in the Braves' bullpen. Some of that uncertainty has been because Tyler Matzek and Dylan Lee are both coming off injuries and the team is still trying to figure out what they will look like ahead of Opening Day, but there does seem to be at least one spot in the bullpen that is genuinely an open competition.

According to Braves insider Mark Bowman in the piece linked above, that spot could end up going to someone that isn't even a Brave right now.

Braves Rumors: Atlanta could target recent spring roster cuts to fill out their bullpen

As things stand right now, Raisel Iglesias, AJ Minter, Pierce Johnson, Aaron Bummer, and Joe Jimenez are going to be in the Braves' bullpen barring a catastrophe. If Matzek is healthy and ready for the start of the season, that makes six. Dylan Lee's spot is somewhat in jeopardy given that he has had a tough spring thus far and Bummer gives the Braves a second lefty in the 'pen alongside Minter, but he still has a realistic shot especially in Reynaldo Lopez starts in the Braves' rotation early in the season.

Right now, it is the long relief spot in the bullpen that seems a bit sketchy. With Michael Tonkin, Collin McHugh, and Jesse Chavez no longer around for now, Jackson Stephens seems like he has to be the favorite for the job (again, especially if Lopez is starting). However, the Braves' usage of Stephens in 2023 (or lack thereof) does seem to indicate that Atlanta isn't enamored with him. We also aren't convinced that Atlanta doesn't have Jesse Chavez stashed in the basement right now which could make this conversation moot.

The good news is that this is the time of year when middle relievers are made available in droves as teams trim down their rosters. Don't expect the Braves to spend much especially given that they stretched their spending limit to bring back Adam Duvall on Thursday, but fans should expect Alex Anthopoulos to comb the bargain bin for at least one reliever that could round out the team's bullpen. Based on his track record with such moves, whoever that guy ends up being is probably going to be better than folks think.

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