Way Too Early Braves Roster Predictions

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Here’s a Tweet turned into a thread. My early thoughts on the Braves Opening Day Roster, if all are healthy and there are no trades.

Position Players, 100%

Position Players, 80%

Position Players, 20%

Pitchers, 100%

Pitchers, 50%

Pitchers, 25%

What ya got, Braves Journalers?

Author: Ryan Cothran

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

47 thoughts on “Way Too Early Braves Roster Predictions”

  1. You’re a little higher on Santana than I would be. To me, he’s firmly in “has to earn a spot” territory with Stephens, Anderson, etc. He’s out of options, so I guess that gives him an edge, but he’s hardly the kind of player about whom I’d shed too many tears if the Braves lost him for nothing.

    Man is that position-player depth sketchy. Here’s hoping the Braves don’t suffer any Acuna-in-2021/Albies-in-2022 level injuries in 2o23.

  2. @1
    I’m not necessarily high on Santana, but he has already been guaranteed a mil so I’m guessing he’ll at least get a month.

  3. Why isn’t Dylan Lee a shoo-in? I think Yates, Santana, Stephens, Tonkin and Anderson should duke it out for two spots. I’m also hoping we have one trade or signage or something left on the horizon, because I agree with bravesword on the weakness of the bench. I’d like to see one more solid IF or OF added to the roster. I really think Grissom ought to get a year at AAA but I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

    Does anyone know when the 60day IL can begin to be used. I’m still betting that we see no more activity until Ynoa and Matzek go to the IL.

  4. Back to the tail end of the other thread, I continue to not have any sympathy for Coppy whatsoever. The only argument I find the slightest bit compelling there is that John Hart got off scot-free, but that doesn’t mean Coppy shouldn’t have been buried, just that Hart also should’ve been. And more to the point, to the extent I found a lifetime ban over the top, I find a five-year ban not at all over the top, and that’s what he wound up getting. He was a sleazy guy who wantonly cheated and rightly got the book thrown at him. He’s reinstated now, good for him I guess. Were I running a baseball team, I wouldn’t hire him.

  5. @3
    All of the beatwriters have mentioned that the Braves could go with 6 starters out the gate and if that’s the case, AA is going to have to keep a reliever with options down on the farm. Lee has one. So, if AA wants to see what Tonkin, who has 0 options, can do at the big league level AND go with 6 SPs out the gate, Lee will have to stay down.

  6. I don’t believe for a second that Coppolella was doing anything the other 29 teams aren’t; he was just a lot more brazen about it at a time when Manfred was looking for a head to stick on a pike. The Dodgers literally maintained an Excel document recording their crimes in Latin America, and no one from that organization received the slightest bit of discipline from the league. (Hell, the league signed off on Coppy’s successor coming over from that organization.)

    That being said, the fact that the other teams are also bad doesn’t make Coppolella good, and I certainly wouldn’t hire him. The fact that he spent his time away from the game hocking time shares seems perfectly in character.

  7. The Pillar signing shows the Braves are going far and wide to find OFs who are worse than Rosario/Ozuna…… but we knew they were only going to bring in those that could be had on MiLB deals at this point. I wonder if Grossman or Dickerson may be next.

  8. The best description I ever heard of Kevin Pillar was given by Michael Schur, who characterized him as the fake name Kevin Millar gave to the cops after he got picked up for underage drinking in high school.

    Pillar could have helped the team two years ago, but he’s probably finished now. Still, I’ll take anyone who increases the likelihood that Ozuna is released.

  9. you know what’s a lot of fun to do while we wait for spring training to start?

    watching gifs of Jorge Soler launch a baseball out of minute maid park. it really is such a balm, can’t recommend it enough.

  10. I know I’m the only one but if Grissom doesn’t have an amazing defensive showing—I think he goes to AAA to improve his defense. Shewmake is the back up SS. I also believe Soroka will be the 5th starter. Tromp and Eli White have options so they start in AAA but I believe both will be with the Braves at some point during the year to cover for injuries. I think Anderson starts the year in the pen, but will be replaced with Lee soon after. Hilliard is a wild card and a friend of mine who is a Rockies fan says he was putting together a ‘turn the corner’ year that everyone was waiting on and then had a concussion and struggled to get back on track. Hilliard has a lot of upside and could turn out to be a big help—or a total waste. A perfect all of nothing type player. It costs the Braves nothing so the flier on him is a no cost gamble. He is out of options so he may make the team based on options and upside. I am a big elder fan and I believe he will be a great help to the Braves but to start the year Soroka will be the 5th and Elder will be the 1st one up from AAA. Man am I ready for spring…..thanks for this.

  11. There’s a decent chance that of Ozuna, Rosario, Luplow, White, Pillar, and Hilliard can combine for 4-5 WAR between starting LF and backup 4th and 5th OFs. I continue to be high on White if he can be used properly. I really like the spaghetti against the wall approach.

  12. That depends on how you define “decent,” I suppose. Myself, I think there’s a more than decent chance none of the five puts up a positive WAR. Has-beens and never-weres are no way to build a baseball team.

  13. @15 Yes, you can’t expect much from this group. Luplow is intriguing: he and Rosario could be an OK platoon. White is Heredia part deux. Hilliard is bad. Pillar is washed up.

  14. Wait, really? How do you see 4-5 WAR out of a collection of that many replacement players?

  15. @18 That’s really not a compliment. The LF, 4th OF, and 5th OF (if there is one) will get about 800-900 PAs, right? And they’ll get a ton of innings as defensive replacements. A really good 4th OF can produce 1 WAR, as White showed. So if there’s a guy who hits lefties and plays good defense, a guy who hits righties and plays good defense, a good 4th OF, and a good 5th OF, 4 WAR doesn’t seem to be that crazy.

  16. Color me skeptical that the same personnel that turned in a league-worst LF performance last season will not only turn it around, but will also add some positive depth play.

    It could happen, sure. But it also could happen that Rosario, Ozuna, and Pillar are done, White and Hilliard aren’t major leaguers (as, indeed, they haven’t been so far, and neither is a spring chicken), and Luplow gives you half a win on defense and nothing with the bat.

  17. Braves have had successful platoons in the past that weren’t sexy on paper. While I don’t think this crew will do what Willie Harris and Matt Diaz did back in 2007, it isn’t impossible. Things to know about each guy:

    Hilliard: Hits the ball really hard (97th percentile) and was the player most affected by the shift in the entire MLB. Could take Rosario’s job.
    Luplow: Stud defender. Hose of an arm. Historically hits LHP well.
    White: Elite defender and Base thief. Anemic bat.
    Pillar: Can still hit LHP and play average defense

    My $ is on Hilliard and Luplow sticking.

  18. The thing is, some of those guys are going to be worth negative WAR. For example, in 2007, while Willie Harris and Matt Diaz were both great, Brandon Jones and Ryan Langerhans were worth -0.9 wins because they went 6-63. So when you roll the dice with a bunch of replacement-level guys, even if you get amazing performance from some, you’re going to get awful performance from others that will pull the overall numbers down.

    Overall in 2007, the team got +2.8 WAR from the position, which is terrific; but the following year, they got 0.7 WAR from the position, and the year after that, they got 0.9 WAR from the position. That feels a lot more likely for what we’re describing here.

  19. @23
    I get that. If all goes well, we won’t be looking at a platoon in LF. If Eddie is Eddie of 2017-2021, Braves are in good position. Probably important to mention this…

    Hilliard has no options.
    Luplow has 1.
    White has 2.

    If Eddie looks good during spring, Hilliard’s a goner, and that sucks because he’s the one dude I’m actually excited about seeing.

  20. @23 I think I’ve developed enough confidence in AA, Snit, and the staff that they can identify which of these guys can play. And for Ryan’s point, a lot of it has to be decided in Spring Training before they start accumulating WAR.

    White just produced one WAR playing really good defense. Luplow, as Ryan also mentioned, plays good defense.

    Someone out of that list can hit righties. Someone out of that list can hit lefties. If we’ve spent this much money to get nowhere, that’s on AA>

  21. @26 — The thing is, I don’t actually think that last paragraph is true. It’s not a given that they’ve got somone who can hit righties, they just need to find out who. It’s possible-to-likely that they just don’t have that side of the platoon ready to go.

    In a sense, that’s the whole issue with this kind of strategy. The downside potential is huge — no one grabs the job and you spend the season (at least pre-deadline) cycling through options that aren’t good enough and hurt your chances every time they take the field. But the upside isn’t that great either — maybe you find a league-average hitter who can field some. Yay.

    It shows the limitations of the organization’s allergy to spending money, too — if you don’t have a farm system and you’re leery of free agents, your only option for filling holes is buying a bunch of lottery tickets and hoping you get lucky. It can work, but there’s a reason the lottery ticket-heavy portfolio isn’t what most people retire on.

  22. @27

    Sir, Eddie Rosario has a .797 OPS against RHP for his career. That’s literally the only reason he is signed. He hits righties. Now, if he’s still blind or whatever, that’s a different story. But to say we don’t have someone on the roster who can hit righties is wrong.

    It shows the limitations of the organization’s allergy to spending money, too

    They’re paying Ozuna and Rosario $25M this year! That’s second in the league in LF spending:

    https://www.spotrac.com/mlb/positional/left-field/

  23. I really can’t believe that we are still saying the Braves aren’t spending when they have a top six payroll in the league. Those two things cannot coexist.

  24. An .800 OPS isn’t exactly clobbering the ball, especially as a platoon left fielder with no defense. It also fails to account for the fact that he may just be bad now; it’s not like Rosario was an MVP candidate before eye problems wrecked his season. Outside of two months in 2021, he’s been mediocre for three years running.

    (In all honesty, I’m on board with giving Rosario a chance to rebound just because the alternatives are so awful, but it never should have gotten to that point in the first place. The fact that it’s a month until pitchers and catchers and we’re still at the “Well, maybe Rosario can give us an average bat” stage of grief is hugely dispiriting.)

    The presence of sunk money on your roster doesn’t give you the right to throw up your hands and give up. They might be paying $25 million but they’re going to get nothing for it, and the proper response to that is not “Well, I guess nothing’s good enough.”

  25. @30

    I think you need to take a step back and see really what the Braves need from LF. We’re pretty loaded around the lineup with above average production at CF, RF, 3B, 2B, I would think 1B, C, and maybe even DH. There are 2 holes in the lineup, SS and LF. They’re handing the job to a prospect with minimal expectations at SS. Grissom was on a 2.8 fWAR pace across 600 PAs, extended slump included.

    They can easily get by with league average production at LF and still have a very good lineup and defense, possibly even a championship-caliber lineup and defense. League average production, per FG, for LF last year was 1.9 fWAR. There were only 3 teams that had over 5 fWAR and 4 over 4 fWAR. If Rosario could possibly muster a .800 OPS, one of these misfits could hit LHP (probably the easier thing to get), and they played average defense, you’re looking at a top 7 or 8 unit at the one spot in the lineup where you don’t exactly need to get elite production. The WAR will really fly up if they put one of Luplow or White out there in the 7th inning and later.

    You don’t need an All-Star at every position to be one of the best teams in the league, brother.

  26. You don’t need an All-Star at every position to be one of the best teams in the league, brother.

    Agreed! I think we can win a bunch of games even if left field is pretty bad. But left field looks like it’s shaping up to be pretty bad.

    I just don’t see a bunch of replacement-level players giving us significantly more than replacement-level performance. I’d love to be surprised, but I don’t think you can expect anything in particular. Eli White is a sub-Mendoza hitter in Texas. Jordan Luplow has nearly 1000 major league PA; he just got finished hitting .176 in Arizona. Hilliard just hit .184 in Colorado. Maybe they’re change-of-scenery guys and there’s something that will get unlocked when they get over here, but if I wouldn’t bet money on it. These guys aren’t teenage lottery tickets; they’re journeymen who are nearly 30 and who, odds are, are who they are.

  27. The best bet, for me, is that Rosario comes back and can see (and hopefully hit) the ball again. I’m quite confident of a bounce-back season from him. The rest I don’t expect much, except as a defensive replacements. Who knows what that will add up to WAR-wise, but if we can get a 1-2 WAR from that position I’m ok with it.

  28. My main issue is that we had two positions of need going into the offseason and we’ve done nothing of note with either of them. And no, I don’t consider signing five crappy AAAA left fielders in the hope that you can put together a Frankenstein’s monster LF that kind of works if you squint as doing something of note. I’m fine with making LF a platoon and giving Rosario another shot to be the LH half of that, but then if that’s the decision there, you have to do better with the RH half and you have to do something better at SS than give it to the rookie who you benched going down the stretch. And I’m still not convinced that Snit isn’t going to decide that Orlando Arcia is his starting SS, and if Orlando Arcia is the solution to one of our two big questions going into the offseason, that doesn’t say anything good.

    They seem to have spent the bulk of their time this offseason putting together a deal for a position that wasn’t a necessity. And though that deal wasn’t the end of the world in and of itself, it spent all our resources on a luxury item and left us no better off at our two positions of need. And we overpaid for the luxury item, as well, and I would much rather overpay with money than with player capital.

    So no, we’re not having the same conversations we were back in 2019 about Liberty Media insisting on us being a mid-market team, but it’s still more than OK to be a little leery of an offseason where we appear to have focused on secondary concerns and have decided to let it ride on the two positions we were most concerned about going into the offseason.

    And then on top of that, you have the fact that our GM seems to have decided that if any of our homegrown stars get to free agency, it’s OK to let them walk, and I don’t think that’s a sustainable way to keep a championship window open. But a whole bunch of folks seem to have made peace with letting our best players just walk out the door rather quickly, to the extent where folks are already waving goodbye to our best pitcher two years before he’s gone.

  29. Another way to think about the money thing is… the team directly above the Braves in the payroll rankings is the Texas Rangers. If those two teams swapped rosters, who you still be saying “Aw, they’ve spent enough, it’s unreasonable to expect any more from them”? I daresay you would not.

    It’s not how much you’ve spent. It’s how much you still need. The Braves don’t need much, but they don’t need nothing, either. They’ve got two good teams in their division; they can’t take wins for granted.

  30. It’s not how much you’ve spent. It’s how much you still need. The Braves don’t need much, but they don’t need nothing, either.

    Six teams in each league will make the crapshoot. We have the fourth most projected WAR not in our league, but in all of baseball. And the difference in projected WAR between us and the team at the top of the list is negligible.

    In other words, without doing anything else, we’re about as much a lock to be crapshoot-bound as a team can be before the season starts.

    Given that, I certainly don’t mind waiting to see which potential problem becomes the biggest actual problem–and what potential problem we can most cost-effectively solve, because those could end up being two different problems–before doing anything more to the roster.

    our GM seems to have decided that if any of our homegrown stars get to free agency, it’s OK to let them walk, and I don’t think that’s a sustainable way to keep a championship window open

    Setting aside the fact that we offered Freddie in essence the same money as the Dodgers and he chose to leave and also that it’s questionable whether or for how long Dansby will remain a “star,” I look at how long our core will remain under contract, and you know what, the championship window looks pretty sustainable to me.

  31. When you are stacked like the Braves are currently with their lineup, you should be able to afford waiting until the trade deadline in summer to make another significant move in LF. Better options should become available then than there are now.

  32. I’m gonna echo what’s been said here multiple times (and what I’ve said myself)

    If you’re fretting about the #8 and #9 hitters in the line-up and not much else, your team is in GREAT SHAPE.

    Let’s not be spoiled Yankee fans.

    I’m sad Freddie is gone. Blaming that on the lockout and his agent.

    I’m not sad Dansby is gone. I think he will decline quickly (as middle infielders do) and he will be Chicago’s next Heyward.

    There was a huge logjam of minor league pitchers. Better to get something good for them (Murphy!) than let them go the way of the Touki. Maybe they’ll play great for their new teams, but they weren’t gonna do anything for us. Good luck out there, Handsome Muller.

  33. I love Dansby, always will love Dansby, but that was an absurd deal by the Cubs. Wish him well; glad he’s gone.

    @33

    If Rosario hits, then we’re fine. Luplow has a career .841 OPS against LHP. Pillar is undoubtedly cooked, but he has a .774 OPS against LHP for his career. Maybe Ozuna has found God.

    @32

    Alex, White doesn’t have to hit to be valuable. I feel like this is getting really lost. Have him play 3 innings a night in LF, give Harris days off, and he’s done his job.

  34. Just some Statcast stuff on Sam Hilliard:

    Average Exit Velo: 86th percentile
    Max Exit Velo: 97th percentile
    Sprint Speed: 85th percentile
    Arm: 89th percentile
    BB-rate: 88th percentile

    If Seitzer can get Hilliard to lower his hands and be comfortable with it, that added launch angle should really do wonders for him. Sometimes, these guys that have the above ratings just don’t work out and it’s mind-boggling. However, there’s a lot to like about this profile.

  35. @40, fair. @41, fair.

    I’ve been a crabby old grouch for long enough on this thread. (Other than declaring my love for Elder, of course.) There’s a new Guided by Voices album out today, everybody!

    As usual, Fun Police makes a completely cogent point. This team is really really good. To me, it’s awesome that the Mets and Phillies are spending insane amounts of money and really going for it. Whenever the competition really raises their game, it raises the bar for everybody. I like it when our rivals try hard, because it just makes it that much sweeter when we grab the brass ring. Last year’s pennant race was, honestly, one of the best and most exhilaratingly fun pennant races, like, ever.

    I hope the Mets and Phillies keep trying hard. I hope that the cowardly miserly spendthrift jerks in Pittsburgh and Miami and Oakland get run out of town on a rail, and that the meddling idiot owners in Baltimore and Los Angeles and Washington and Colorado just sell the teams already. I’d like 30 teams all simultaneously trying to win, all spending money on free agents and international scouting and player development.

    And then I’d like the Braves to stand victorious, like Jet Li at the end of The One.

    The core that we have locked up — Olson, Acuña, Albies, Riley, Harris, Strider, and Murphy, along with plenty of additional years of team control for Grissom, Wright, Anderson, Elder, and Jesse Chavez, is pretty awesome. We’re going to be in it every August. What happens in October is up to Alex. But he’s earned my trust, even if it seems like I spend every January being annoyed that he’s left a couple of unpatched holes in the roof. That certainly seems to be his MO. And in the abstract, I can acknowledge that he’s probably right. In 2021, he bet on corner outfield being an area that could be inexpensively upgraded midyear, and he was 100% right.

    So, I’m going to stop being ticked off about it, and I’ll just focus on what’s awesome.

  36. @44 The Braves basically have Jesse Chavez under contract for 5 years, and it’s 5 years of club options.

    Jesse Chavez is one of those guys where if he didn’t play for your team, you wouldn’t know how likeable he was. I wonder who else around the league is beloved by their teams’ fans and very few fans of other teams have heard of him.

  37. Did you guys see how Tucker Davidson ended up doing in LAA after traded? They plugged him immediately into the rotation, and it was ugly: 8 GS, 6.37 ERA, 36.2 IP, 23 K, 22 BB, 1.66 WHIP, 9.6 H/9, 5.6 K/9, 5.4 BB/9. Yikes.

    He’s 26 now…

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