The World Series will get underway Friday in Houston and unfortunately, it will not be the Atlanta Braves who are facing the Astros in a rematch. The focus for the Braves now shifts to the offseason, which will get underway as soon as the Fall Classic is completed. Atlanta enters the offseason in good shape with much of its young core locked up for a long time. Still, there are questions that will need to be answered and the biggest is at shortstop where Dansby Swanson is a free agent. We will be examining a lot of these decisions in closer detail over the next few weeks, but for now here is a snapshot of where things stand heading into the offseason.
Free Agents (8): Jesse Chavez, Darren O’Day, Luke Jackson, Kenley Jansen, Ehire Adrianza, Dansby Swanson, Adam Duvall, Robbie Grossman
The Braves have eight players that will file for free agency the day after the World Series ends. Swanson is the big name here and is sure to receive a Qualifying Offer from the team. Kenley Jansen led the National League in saves with 41, but the presence of Raisel Iglesias, who was acquired at the Trade Deadline, likely makes him expendable. The group also includes relievers Jesse Chavez and Luke Jackson. Atlanta acquired Chavez twice during the 2022 season and it wouldn’t be surprising if the team opted to bring him back. Luke Jackson missed all of the 2022 season while recovering from Tommy John Surgery and could return as well.
Outfielders Adam Duvall and Robbie Grossman both also make this list. Duvall largely struggled offensively before his season ended in late July due to a wrist injury. He is well-liked and can play all three outfield spots well defensively. Atlanta acquired the switch-hitting Grossman at the deadline from the Tigers to give them more depth in the corner outfield and a right-handed option to use against left-handed pitching. It wouldn’t be terribly surprising if either were brought back on a short deal to add depth.
Options (1): Jake Odorizzi
The Braves added Jake Odorizzi at the trade deadline from the Astros in exchange for reliever Will Smith. Odorizzi has a player option for 2023 as part of the three year, $23.5 million deal he signed with Houston. The option is worth $12.5 million and has a buyout of $6.25 million. The calculus here is whether Odorizzi thinks he can do better than $6.25 million on the open market, which given his 2022, might be an iffy proposition.
Arbitration (6): Silvino Bracho, Max Fried, Guillermo Heredia, Tyler Matzek, A.J. Minter, Mike Soroka
Atlanta has six players who are eligible for salary arbitration this offseason. They will have until the start of December to decide whether or not to tender contracts to the players in this group. Atlanta can also negotiate with them and sign them to avoid going through the arbitration process. Max Fried, A.J. Minter and Mike Soroka are the biggest names here; Fried and Minter are locks to be tendered a contract. Tyler Matzek recently underwent Tommy John surgery and will miss all of next season. Guillermo Heredia played more of a role in the clubhouse than he did on the field for the Braves in 2022 and is out of options, but has already agreed to play for $1M/season in each of the past three years, without a raise.
60-day IL (2): Huascar Ynoa, Manny Pina
The Braves have two players that are currently on the 60-day Injured List that will have to be added back to the 40-man roster in pitcher Huascar Ynoa and catcher Manny Pina. Ynoa had Tommy John surgery in September and will miss all of 2023. Pina had wrist surgery in April and is expected to be ready for spring training.
Luke Jackson, Darren O’Day, and Adam Duvall also finished the season on the 60-day Injured List, but are free agents.
DFA Candidates: Silvino Bracho, Alan Rangel, Brooks Wilson, Huascar Ynoa, Chadwick Tromp, Rylan Bannon, Guillermo Heredia
Atlanta will have some roster flexibility if they need it depending on whether they elect to non-tender arbitration-eligibles like Bracho and Heredia or just trim some other depth from their 40-man roster. Chadwick Tromp is the fourth catcher currently on the 40-man and could be in jeopardy. Ynoa began the 2022 season in the rotation, but struggled and wasn’t much better at Gwinnett before undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Brooks Wilson missed all of the 2022 season after his own Tommy John Surgery, but should return in 2023.
League minimum players + guaranteed contracts + player options + arbitration eligibles = 37 players
Rule 5 Draft-Eligible Players per Roster Resource:
- Catchers: Javier Valdez, Logan Brown,
- Infielders: Drew Lugbauer, Braulio Vasquez, Cade Bunnell, Oliesel Stevens, Beau Phillip, Braden Shewmake, Francisco Floyd
- Outfielders: Cody Milligan, Justin Dean, Greyson Jenista, Drew Campbell, Jefrey Ramos, Willie Carter, Brandol Mezquita, Brandon Parker
- Pitchers: Darius Vines, Nolan Kingham, Allan Winans, Luis De Avila, Tanner Gordon, Roddery Munoz, Luis Vargas, Landon Leach, Jordano Perez, Rainiery Rodriguez, Jorge Bautista, Justin Yeager, Odalvi Javier, Indigo Diaz, Thomas Burrows, Connor Johnstone, Hayden Deal, Jake Higginbotham, Lisandro Santos, Alex Segal, Corbin Clouse, Daysbel Hernandez, Alec Barger, Benjamin Dum, Trey Riley, Miguel Pena, Ronaldo Alesandro, James Acuna
The “37” number is important as the Braves will need to add a few players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. The safest bet would appear to be Darius Vines, but there are several possibilities from the list above. Atlanta would also need to have a 40-man roster spot available for any free agent they sign or any players that they receive via trade.
Below is a look at what the 40-man roster will look like once free agents file, with the exception of Jake Odorizzi, who we covered above.
Anderson began the season in the rotation, but ended it at Gwinnett after struggling throughout the 2022 campaign. He will need to put his rough season behind him and will likely be part of the spring competition for the final spot in the rotation.
Bracho was brought in as depth, outrighted and then added back to the 40-man roster during the final weeks as a multi-inning option. He is arbitration-eligible, but there is a good chance that he is DFA’d to clear his roster spot. He’s a quintessential last-guy-on-the-roster, Triple-A shuttle type.
Fried turned in another banner season and will go to Spring Training penciled in for the No. 1 spot in the rotation. He is arbitration-eligible for the third time this fall and will become a free agent following the 2024 campaign.
Elder was pressed into early duty in the rotation and struggled, but was impressive when given an opportunity down the stretch. He will likely be part of the spring competition for the final rotation spot.
Atlanta acquired Iglesias at the Trade Deadline in exchange for Jesse Chavez and Tucker Davidson. He finished the season strong and will likely take over as the team’s closer going forward. Iglesias is under contract through 2025 and will make $16 million annually.
Lee was one of the bigger surprises of the season as he went from a fringe bullpen piece to a more prominent role in higher leverage situations. Lee should figure into the bullpen picture for 2023 and also has options remaining.
A postseason hero in 2021, Matzek struggled to regain his form in 2022. He was sidelined by a shoulder injury early in the summer and then underwent Tommy John surgery in September and will miss all of 2023. Even when he was healthy, he had a terrible season in terms of both his results and his inputs. He is arbitration-eligible this winter and is a non-tender candidate due to his injury status.
Quietly one of the best additions from last offseason, Collin McHugh turned in an excellent 2022 season for the Braves while filling a variety of roles out of the bullpen. He will make $5 million in 2023 and his deal also includes a club option for 2024.
Minter was the best option of what was a strong bullpen for the Braves in 2022. He could also see some closing opportunities with the departure of Jansen, but should again be a fixture in Atlanta’s bullpen next season. Minter is arbitration-eligible this winter and will be a -free agent after the 2024 season.
Morton didn’t put together the same high-quality season that he did in 2021, but logged over 170 innings and topped 200 strikeouts for the second straight season. Atlanta inked him to a one-year, $20 million extension in September and he will go to Spring Training with a rotation spot locked up.
Muller put together a solid season at Gwinnett, but again saw limited opportunities with Atlanta in 2022. When the Braves needed a starter down the stretch, it was Elder who got the call over Muller. Still, he could be an intriguing trade candidate this offseason or he could be part of the competition for the final rotation spot during the spring.
Rangel was added to the 40-man roster last offseason. He spent most of the season at Mississippi, where he had a 27.2 percent strikeout rate, but also saw his walk-rate go from 3.8 percent in 2021 to 9.8 percent in 2022.
Soroka finally made his return to the mound with five late-season starts for Gwinnett after missing two straight seasons with a torn Achilles. The numbers at Triple-A weren’t pretty, but that wasn’t the most important thing. Soroka will hopefully have a full offseason healthy and will come to Spring Training without restriction while looking to compete for a spot in the major league rotation. He is arbitration-eligible again this winter and will be a free agent after 2024.
Stephens went to Spring Training in 2022 as a non-roster invitee, was called up during the first week of the season, and ended up sticking for the entire season. He is a multi-inning option that will again compete for a spot in the bullpen next season.
Strider began the 2022 season in the bullpen, but he will go into the spring with a hold on a rotation spot. Atlanta locked him up on a long-term deal and if he can replicate his success, could push Fried as the team’s top starter.
Tarnok split the 2022 season between Mississippi and Gwinnett working primarily as a starter, but could figure into the picture out of the bullpen as well. He made his major league debut in August, throwing two-thirds of an inning against the Mets.
Wilson missed all of the 2022 season while recovering from Tommy John Surgery.
Woods saw action in a pair of games for Atlanta, but was limited to just 24.1 official innings on the season due to injury. The Braves sent him to the Arizona Fall League to get some work and he could again turn heads with a good showing in the spring.
When the 2022 season started, the hope was that Wright would be able to lock down one of the open spots in the Braves’ rotation. He did much more than that, leading the majors in wins while logging a career-high 180 innings. Next spring, Wright will go to camp with a rotation spot in hand.
Yates returned from Tommy John Surgery and appeared in nine games down the stretch before inflammation in his elbow all but ended his season. He will have a full offseason to get ready and could be another high leverage option out of the bullpen in 2023, if he’s able to show more than he did in a handful of games this summer and fall.
Ynoa began the season in the rotation, but was banished to Gwinnett after struggling through 6.2 innings. He had an inconsistent season at Triple-A and then underwent Tommy John surgery in September. Ynoa will miss all of the 2023 season and his roster spot could be in jeopardy.
Another major surprise for the 2022 season, Contreras was pressed into duty after Manny Pina went down and emerged as a significant offensive threat while making progress behind the plate. He should continue to see increased opportunities behind the plate and at DH in 2023.
d’Arnaud put together another solid (if very fortunate) season behind the plate in 2022 and paired with Contreras to give Atlanta a solid 1-2 punch at the position. d’Arnaud will make $8 million in 2023 and his contract includes a club option at that same number for 2024.
Pina appeared in five games and had just 17 plate appearances before undergoing season-ending wrist surgery. Pina will make $4.5 million in 2023 and his contract includes a club option for 2024, so he could be attractive to a team in need of catching depth.
Tromp appeared in one game for the Braves and had three hits before suffering a quad injury. He stuck on the 40-man roster as depth behind d’Arnaud and Contreras, but his roster spot could be in jeopardy if Pina sticks around.
Albies appeared in just 64 games in 2022 due to a broken foot, and then a broken finger that he suffered in his first game back. He will have a full offseason to recover before taking back over as the full-time second baseman next season.
Arcia stepped in after Albies went down and gave the Braves league-average production offensively and was very good defensively. His ability to play all over the infield gives him value as a bench option. The Braves signed Arcia to a two-year, $3 million deal ahead of the 2022 season, that also includes a $2 million club option for the 2024 campaign.
The Braves picked Bannon up off waivers down the stretch to provide some depth on the infield. He has one option remaining should he stick on the roster into the spring.
Grissom made the jump from Double-A to the majors after Arcia went down with a hamstring injury. He gave the team a spark with his performance and showed that he could hold his own at the major league level. Where he fits in for 2023 depends on what the Braves do at shortstop.
Olson fought off a second-half slump and finished strong in his first season in Atlanta. He’s locked up for the long term and is part of the team’s core moving forward.
Riley didn’t dominate down the stretch the way he did earlier in the season, but still set a career high with 38 home runs. The Braves gave him the biggest contract in franchise history and he could very well be the face of the organization moving forward.
Ronald Acuña Jr.
Acuńa’s return from 2021’s ACL injury didn’t go quite as well as expected. He battled persistent soreness in the knee and while he produced better than expected stolen base numbers, the power was slow to return, with tons of grounders littering his PAs. With a normal offseason ahead, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Acuña return to his previous MVP caliber form.
Michael Harris II
It is no accident that the Braves’ turnaround in 2022 coincided with Harris’ arrival. He solidified the outfield with his defensive ability in center and performed better than anyone could have expected at the plate and on the bases after making the jump from Double-A. He is locked up long--term and is going to be a fixture in centerfield going forward.
The spiritual leader of that 2021 team, Heredia was able to stick on the roster for nearly all of the 2022 season and was aided by the fact that he had an option remaining. He appeared in just 74 games and saw just 82 plate appearances. While Heredia shouldn’t be expensive to retain, it’s worth wondering whether he’ll have a harder time sticking this year because the Braves will want someone on the roster that actually... plays.
Since signing a big extension prior to the 2021 season, Ozuna has produced a .222/.278/.397 line with 30 home runs and an 84 wRC+ in 715 plate appearances. He has been worth -0.9 fWAR over that span and that is before we even mention his two off-field arrests during that period. He is owed $36 million for the next two seasons and has a $1 million buyout for 2025. At this point, he looks like a sunk cost and one that the Braves should try to dump or simply walk away from.
Rosario was a postseason hero for Atlanta in 2021 and parlayed that into a two-year, $18 million deal. 2022 didn’t go as according to plan after he missed more than two months after undergoing laser surgery to correct blurred vision and swelling in his eye. He couldn’t regain his footing after his return and finished the season with just five home runs, a 61 wRC+ and was worth -1.1 fWAR. As the offseason begins, he looks like the odds-on favorite in left field, but he is going to need to prove that 2022 was an outlier, and probably pretty quickly.