Recent Cuts Help Shape Braves Opening Day Roster

With the 3 latest cuts, the Braves are now down to 37 players left in camp.

Travis Demeritte is not a surprise, but the other 2 were, at least for me. Brian Snitker has talked quite a bit about bench roles when the DH is present and it’s a difficult position to put a young player in, knowing there’ll be very little action. With that knowledge, I thought Brock Holt was a lock for the roster. There are 3 non-roster candidates in camp that could fill the spot. Between Phil Gosselin, Phil Valaika, and Ryan Goins, my money’s on Goose, but my real money is on someone that’s not in camp at the moment. We’ve seen it in the past, but AA sure does love his waiver claims and there’ll be a lot of them soon.

Braves Roster Locks

Assuming there are 28 players that’ll head north, here are my roster locks, assuming there’s no injury before camp breaks:

  1. Travis d’Arnuad
  2. Manny Piña
  3. Matt Olson
  4. Ozzie Albies
  5. Dansby Swanson
  6. Austin Riley
  7. Orlando Arica
  8. Marcell Ozuna
  9. Adam Duvall
  10. Eddie Rosario
  11. Alex Dickerson
  12. Guillermo Heredia
  13. Max Fried
  14. Charlie Morton
  15. Ian Anderson
  16. Kenley Jansen
  17. Will Smith
  18. Tyler Matzek
  19. A.J. Minter
  20. Collin McHugh

That leaves 8 spots up for debate.

Braves Roster Needs

3 Starting Pitchers

The competition for the 3 spots are Kyle Muller, Kyle Wright, Huascar Ynoa, Spencer Strider, and Tucker Davidson. For me, it’s anyone’s guess on who begins the year on the team, but if I were picking it would be Muller, Tucker, and Strider. We could also see some piggybacking which completely blows up this scenario. If that were the case, I’d guess 4 of the make it.

4 Relief Pitchers

As stated above, this could be a moot point should the Braves go with the piggyback option for their starters, but for longevity’s sake, my money is on Darren O’Day making the roster, along with Tyler Thornburg and, because he’s fresh out of options and could be used to piggyback, Sean Newcomb.

1 Utility Player

I’m just not sold on any Goose, Valaika, or Goins. One of the keys to coming off the bench as a UI guy in a DH league is speed. None of these guys qualify as anything more than average on the basepaths. Goose is the pick for now, but I don’t think he ends up on the squad.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

79 thoughts on “Recent Cuts Help Shape Braves Opening Day Roster”

  1. I would think the clubhouse-disrupting move was bringing in your rival team’s closer and demoting your World Series-winning closer.

  2. One move is additive, and the other is not. On the field, trading Freeman for Olson is likely to be purely lateral. (At least for years one and two.) And given that the guy you passed on was a beloved team leader coming off back-to-back MVP and World Championship seasons… If he’s not important enough to keep around, am I?

    But that’s the cost of treating players like items on a ledger. Maybe you end up with a more efficient team, but don’t expect to be applauded for it.

  3. EOF’s response to that article:

  4. (This is where I’d expect Rob to be jumping in and adding value to Braves Journal by saying something like, “If you’re a player heading to arbitration, how can you look at the Olson extension and pretend that the Braves’ moves were fundamentally about money and that you’re just fighting the good fight for your fellow workers? Just be honest. You want to get paid. No shame in that.”)

  5. If the Braves don’t win the World Series, there will be a litany of articles written about “If Freeman had been in Atlanta…” Same when they hit a cold patch.

    Lots of lazy sports writers out there.

  6. I am expecting Ynoa to make the team as well. Wright and if Ynoa is going to the pen, then Muller for the fifth rotation spot.

  7. @4

    Alright, my man, I’ve read that probably 4 times, and I’m still not sure I’m tracking your end point. The Braves traded for a guy 5 years younger, who’s probably already better, he’s making less today, and he’s significantly more likely to be worth his contract at the end of his deal. I’m just not sure what that has to do with guys going to arbitration. Out of thousands of player salaries, what does one player’s have to do with people going to arb?

    In the meantime, I’ll read it again.

  8. Kyle Muller’s outing today won’t help him make the team.

    I want him to pitch in Gwinnett and work on fastball command anyway.

  9. #1 & #3
    Oooh, drama…

    In the history of baseball, there have been teams with players that actively hated each other (or particularly hated their manager, GM or owner) & they still won a World Series (many clubs) or two (’77-’78 NYY) or three (’72-’74 A’s).

    So, this isn’t something I’m going to worry about… if any Brave on this team doesn’t see that their GM is trying his best to win right now, then they’re just blind. This team, as currently constituted, can make the post-season & have another legit run at the WS — that’s the GM’s job.

    The fact that Olson signed a big contract w/o ever playing for the Braves means nothing. Neither did Greg Maddux or any other FA.

    I, too, wish things had worked out differently with Freddie… but they didn’t, so you make the best of it… and that’s what AA has done.

    Let’s get this season started.

  10. @2

    One move is additive, and the other is not. On the field, trading Freeman for Olson is likely to be purely lateral.

    I don’t know if this is true. Olson, in theory, is getting better, and Freeman, in theory, is getting worse. So there’s that. But Olson will be greatly impacted by going from the pitcher’s parks in the AL West and especially Oakland to playing in mostly Truist. I’ve said it before, but I count 9 home runs from Olson’s spray chart that are out of Truist but die on the warning tack at the Coliseum. It wouldn’t surprise me if Olson produced more WAR this year than Freddie.

  11. @9 I agree, and I don’t think Jansen is an issue. But I just thought that if there was an issue, that would be the one. Players/coaches switching between rivals, to your point, is nothing new. I know Florida fans are ecstatic Mike White went to Georgia!

  12. @10 Freddie’s “decline” is purely theoretical at this point. Let’s not count our rotten chickens until they come oozing out of their eggs.

    Clubhouse will be fine as long as the team wins.

  13. Sad to see Johan Camargo trying out at third base for the Phillies this afternoon. Some old locker room friendships will likely wither, Momma will be upset. We all decline from whatever and whenever our prime was, his seemed to come so quickly.

  14. If you don’t think I’m picking up Camargo for $2 in my fantasy draft, then you don’t know Rusty S.

  15. I just moved to the Tampa area a few months ago and am thinking of making a weekend trip to Truist for Memorial Day weekend. It’d be my wife and 6-year-old son. Still debating flying back driving, and was also wondering where the best place/area is to stay now that the park is on the periphery of the city. Was wondering if anyone here had any advice.

  16. @18,
    I just stayed at Renaissance immediately across 285 from the battery 2 weeks ago. Great hotel. 3/4 mile walk over pedestrian bridge to ballpark.
    Driving is 8 hours. If you fly you COULD do Marta to (arts center station?) and connect to Cobb transit. Lots of hotel rooms in galleria Cumberland area.
    Local special a lot of people don’t know. Go into the business park Overlook by car and drive toward the gated luxury apartment building. You see the whole Atlanta skyline and kennesaw mountain.

  17. @10 …… I believe those in the Chop House better be looking out .. Olson is coming !!!!!

  18. @18 Best place to stay is the Omni located right in The Battery, a great hotel with nice amenities on the pricey side. I have stayed at the Residence Inn, 5 min by foot to The Battery featuring perfectly fine rooms/suits (and a pool for you and your family) at a decent price.

  19. plus ca change…

    the other day…

    Freddie Freeman, wrapped in Dodger all-sky blue, looked-somehow- ridiculous…

    you worried that he knew it too…

    Grounded out.

  20. @18

    I have also stayed at the Omni and the Renaissance. The Renaissance is a better bargain, but it is really nice to leave the game and be in the shower less than 3 min.

    A buddy and I went down on a whim a few years ago and stayed in the Days Inn that is about a mile walk. It is also solid and had a decent pool.

  21. @25 I saw that and wondered at first if it was an April Fool’s joke. But no – the news story was posted yesterday.

  22. @18–this doesn’t help you at all, but our daughter and her family live four miles from the park. We stay with them after a night game. I live south of Atlanta and I was one of those people who roundly condemned the move to Cobb County for many reasons, only one of which was the added travel time and inconvenience for me. I’ll admit, though, since they moved there three years ago I stopped complaining about the move.

  23. Thanks for the suggestions…yeah, it feels like flying, Ubering up to the Battery, and then staying up there is the way to go. The Renaissance sounds like a good compromise solution.

  24. deGrom shut down for four weeks with a shoulder injury. Bad for baseball, good for the Braves, I guess.

  25. @30: We gave up nothing (but money) to get Jansen. The Dodgers gave up AJ Pollock. Small wonder that AA’s attempts to get Kimbrel didn’t work. If they wanted someone from us better than AJ Pollock, then hard no.

    That said, if the Dodgers now want Jansen back, head to head, then we would have gotten Kimbrel for nothing more than a compensation pick, and we save some pocket change as well.

  26. Welp. So much for Luke Jackson. Ugh.

    I guess that makes it easier to bring on O’Day and Goose. Just put Luke and Acuna on the 60 day IL. When Acuna is ready to roll, by then another shoe will have dropped.

  27. Night Shift worked a lot of overtime next year. Let’s hope Jackson is the only one with regression or injury. I’m not optimistic. We rode those dudes to a title and a piper may need to be paid.

  28. Overall, I think this team is really good. The only nit I’d pick is I’d rather have a Soler than a Dickerson. I wonder if Conforto is going to hang out there until his compensation is eliminated. That might be a nice “make-good” flyer in June. That would be right up AA’s alley.

  29. At the Braves/Yankees game today on spring break. Looking forward to seeing Strider pitch, especially with Luke’s elbow issues

  30. Methinks Luke is likely to have TJS soon. Good thing AA signed all this bullpen depth.

  31. Strider throwing hard but struggling with a second pitch. Great play by Rosario to end the first

  32. …and sometimes forearm tightness is not just forearm tightness. Oh well, the bullpen’s still good. Obviously the right-handed depth takes a bit of a hit there, but hopefully one of the younger guys will step up. McHugh obviously was a huge signing now.

  33. Upton doesn’t seem any better than Dickerson any more. Sure wouldn’t pay him but maybe after the waiver period ends and he’s released, he might be worth minimum salary.

  34. Justin Upton in 2021 vs. LHP: .838 OPS
    Jorge Soler in 2021 vs. LHP: .846 OPS

    One would cost the league minimum. One did not sign for the league minimum.

  35. The Braves sent Goose, Goins, and Valaika all to minor league camp. Either they are going to carry 16 pitchers or pick up a free agent.

  36. Jonathan F…has there ever been a player DFA’d by his club in the last season of his contract while still owed 28 million …or more for pete’s sake?

    And, separately, to all…might we come to regret the vanishing of the visage of our terrific NLCS MVP behind yet another anonymous straggle=bunch of beard which forever will deny us our well etched memories of what all he did for us with such smiling grace.

  37. I gotta believe that with all the extra IFs going out, there has to be something up. I don’t think they’ll carry Contreras just to sit on the bench. Seems to be a lot of possibilities for another OF but I’m not sure what IFs might be out there for the taking. I kinda still like Demeritte. He’s a good fielder (both IF and OF) and he’s got power. Lots of flaws but we’re talking 28th man on the roster.

  38. Oakland’s payroll will now be less than $35M. That is unacceptable. You read that right, bravesword!

  39. As I’ve said a couple of times on here, I’m not sure you need two backup infielders. The DH fundamentally changes the role of a bench player. There is little need for a couple of pinch hitters. You are rarely if ever going to pinch hit for any of the nine starters. To be sure, there are rare occasions when you will need a pinch hitter. In those games where the starting DH replaces one of the players in the field, the pitcher must hit in the DH spot; you need a pinch hitter available then.

    Even if, unlike last year, the infielders take a day off now and again, Arcia will take their place. The reasoning must be for those times when a starting infielder can’t play for a few games, but not seriously enough to go on the IL, then you need a second backup infielder. If the injury is serious enough for the IL, then you call up someone from AAA.

    Heredia will be the only late inning defensive replacement when there is a lead.

    When rosters go down to 26 and pitchers are limited to 13, that leaves 4 bench spots, right? One backup catcher, one backup infielder, and two backup outfielder/DH.

  40. Just saw that Snit said this morning Contreras is likely to make the opening day roster. Contreras would apparently be a backup third baseman in addition to backup outfielder. I assume that is only until they reduce the rosters to 26, at which point he will catch every day in AAA.

  41. 50 — I agree. AA has a history of using the waiver wire to fill the bench too at the end of spring.

  42. If someone like Benintendi is on the trade block, we could trade Dickerson straight up or maybe with a lesser prospect. About the same hitters and Benintendi has a gold glove. The Royals can save about $5M and get a minor prospect without hurting their ML team. That could really stick Ozuna at DH even when Acuna comes back and leave us with some insurance if Rosario doesn’t pan out or Duvall needs to be platooned.

  43. Sunday night trivia!

    (1) What pitcher has lost the most opening day games? [That one’s not that hard, and Phil Niekro is 2nd.] The top three are all in the Hall of Fame.
    (2) Now the hard one: Name the three pitchers who are tied for the most opening day losses by pitchers not in the HOF.

  44. In my database, The Big Train lost 4 opening days, and Cy only lost 1, but the Retrosheet games database only has a handful of games before 1920, so if I get a minute I’ll go back through their records by hand and figure it out. So you guys may be correct, although I don’t think anyone is going to top this HOFer’s 10 losses. (Niekro had 8.)

  45. My first thought was Walter Johnson as well. In lieu of that, I’ll go with Nolan Ryan.

  46. Walter Johnson was 9-5 on opening day. At BRef, Cy Young’s daily logs don’t start until 1900, but he was 3-3 from 1900-1911. (He had a number of years he wasn’t the opening day pitcher.) So I’m missing 10 years, but he almost surely didn’t have 7 losses in those 10 years on opening day, so I’m pretty confident he can’t beat #1.

    Nolan Ryan lost 3 Openers. Stieb lost 4. Randy Jones only lost once.

  47. Rick Mahler threw a few shutouts, I think.

    If it’s not Johnson, maybe Ted Lyons.

  48. Lyons, for reasons not entirely clear to me, pitched only two opening days. He was 1-1. I was so surprised at that result I went back and checked every year on BRef.

  49. OK… So nobody got close.

    Most Opening Day losses:
    Steve Carlton – 10
    Phil Niekro – 8
    Robin Roberts – 7
    Dennis Martinez (nonHOF), Jack Morris, Paul Derringer (nonHOF), Mike Mussina, Camilo Pascual (nonHOF) – 6

    Max Scherzer has 5, but I think he’s been scratched for opening day.

  50. The Marlins released Delino DeShields. I thought he would be a decent bench option given his defense in center field. However, I forgot or underestimated how bad of a hitter he is. Last year was actually decent for him, but it was in a very small sample size of 58 at bats.

  51. Then again, it was the shortest possible offseason for us.
    Braves are swinging like they can’t wait to get out of Florida.

  52. I have learned one thing from watching this game. The Tampa Bay announcers are terrible. Other than that, I can’t say I’ve learned a whole lot.

  53. RichRod hit with an 80 game ban for testing positive for Boldenone. He tested positive before the lockout. That would explain his dried up market.

  54. @66 I would have said Seaver, just because if I remember right he has the record for opening day starts. How many losses does he have?

  55. If spring training performance means anything in making the team, Bryce Elder has done everything possible. He’s pitched 7.2 innings of no-hit ball. Spring, especially this year with the shortened spring, shouldn’t mean anything, but if he continues to pitch lights out in the minors, he could be a huge boost to the team.

  56. @74: Seaver was 8-2 with 8 no decisions. Jack Morris was 11-6, with 0 no decisions. (Reminds me of the last game of 1991, damn it.)

  57. Not sure if bringing up Elder makes sense just yet. Unless you’re ready to move on from Ynoa, Wright, Davidson or Muller.

    Might as well let him mow down AAA hitters until he’s needed.

  58. Someday, we’ll need 5 reliable starters. Someday, Charlie Morton will retire. Five guys from among Fried, Anderson, Soroka, Ynoa, Wright, Muller, Davidson, Elder, and Shuster will have to be MLB ready. If Soroka comes back strong and one of Ynoa or Wright makes it then I think we have a good shot at an outstanding rotation for the next few years. I think Elder in AAA is a really good thing. Ynoa and Wright have got to have a chance, a real chance, to prove themselves.

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