What’s the reason behind Braves’ wild roster turnover this offseason?

The Braves have been churning and burning their roster this offseason.
Sep 30, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Mariners pinch hitter Jarred Kelenic (10) hits a
Sep 30, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Mariners pinch hitter Jarred Kelenic (10) hits a / Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Of all the offseason strategies that Atlanta Braves' fans thought that Alex Anthopoulos might employ, what they have done so far this offseason may have been the least likely. The prevailing wisdom was that the Braves would target a free agent starter like Sonny Gray or trade for a guy like Dylan Cease with the latter still very much in the cards. However, what we have seen so far has been not only a roster culling, but the Braves leveraging their 40 man roster flexibility and ability to take on some bad money.

Alex Anthopoulos typically does not like having dead money on the books, but this isn't the first time we have seen him employ this strategy. One of his first moves after joining the Braves' front office was to send Matt Kemp to the Dodgers in exchange for some less than desirable contracts.

That said, the scale of the Braves' moves this offseason is still pretty wild.

The amount of Braves roster turnover hints at big changes in the future

After re-signing a couple relievers, one of the Braves' first big moves of the offseason was to cull their roster with a trade with the White Sox that sent Mike Soroka, Jared Shuster, Braden Shewmake, Nicky Lopez, and Riley Gowens to Chicago in exchange for reliever Aaron Bummer. That is three former first round picks that did not seem to have a place in Atlanta that were sent out of town.

The Braves would then sign Reynaldo Lopez which is certainly on-brand for AA as a high end reliever getting real money, although Atlanta still maintains that they want to convert him back into being a starter. However, the roster shuffle was soon in full effect. Here are the players that the Braves have acquired AND gotten rid off this offseason without seeing the field at all with the Braves.

Jackson Kowar
Max Stassi
Matt Carpenter
Marco Gonzales
Evan White

So what is the deal? Why did the Braves decide to go the route of taking on (mostly) dead money in moves this offseason? Well, the answer isn't simple and we don't yet know Anthopoulos' end game.

With the Braves declining Eddie Rosario's option, Atlanta needed a left fielder and the Braves love guys with upside that also have lots of team control. Jarred Kelenic was their preferred target and the only want to get that deal done without trading a lot of prospect capital was to take on Gonzales and White's money while also flipping Kowar to Seattle in the same deal.

The story is similar with Ray Kerr, a reliever that the Braves really like. The only way to get him at a cost Atlanta was comfortable with was to take on Matt Carpenter's deal. Carpenter did not last long as the Braves released him after failing to find a team that was willing to trade for him. Max Stassi was the same sort of thing as the Braves wanted David Fletcher and were able to flip Evan White to the Angels along the way.

The end result has been that the Braves have added a left fielder, a couple of relievers, and a utility infielder along with a good bit of dead money. Again, a solid haul overall, but what is the Braves' end game now? They have even less money to work with now and have yet to address their rotation unless you are counting Reynaldo which is optimistic, but not unreasonable.

Given that the Braves are still mentioned in the starting pitching market and have a lot of room on their 40 man roster at the moment, all of this feels like a prelude to AA making a big move for a rotation arm. Maybe the Braves have to take on some more bad contracts to land a guy like Cease or Shane Bieber or another name that isn't on anyone's radar right now. We all know that Alex likes to operate in the shadows.

We should know soon enough what the Braves' end game is as the market will heat up once Yamamoto decides on a team. If the Braves end up landing the starter they need AND making all of the above upgrades, Anthopoulos will look like he was playing 4D chess while everyone else was playing checkers. However, if the Braves end up not adding to their rotation, this strategy may end up looking pretty silly and a wasteful use of the Braves' resources as interesting as it has been to watch.

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