One of the biggest storylines surrounding the Atlanta Braves heading into spring training will be whether or not top prospect Ronald Acuna will be part of the team’s opening day roster. Atlanta seemingly opened up a spot for Acuna when they traded Matt Kemp to the Dodgers earlier this offseason.
Still there is some big picture thinking here to consider. If the Braves hold Acuna down in the minors for a couple of weeks, they can pick up an additional year of team control. The situation isn’t lost on Acuna who told MLB.com’s Mark Bowman at Chop Fest that he is aware of the situation but still hoping to earn a spot on the opening day roster.
“I’ve talked to some people, and I think the debate is whether they should keep me [with Triple-A Gwinnett] for a couple weeks or a month or however that works, contractually, to benefit the team,” Acuna said through an interpreter. “I’ve tried not to focus on any of that. My goal is just to compete for the roster spot and hopefully make the team.”
Acuna will go to spring training with the Braves and will presumably be given ample opportunities to impress. How good would he really have to be for the Braves to ignore the big picture in this situation? It probably isn’t possible.
New general manager Alex Anthopoulos has approached the entire offseason with the big picture in mind and it doesn’t appear that his thinking will change now. It wouldn’t make much sense in this instance for the Braves to sacrifice a full year of Acuna for a mere two weeks of the 2018 season.