Since the disappointing end of the 2023 postseason, Alex Anthopoulos and his staff have been working at a frenetic pace churning through the back-half of the team’s 40-man roster at levels that haven’t been seen since John Coppolella’s time in the Atlanta Braves front office.
Someone must have been drinking some of the highly caffeinated lemonade that’s been in the news recently, because despite what some dark corners of the internet seem to think, the Braves have been incredibly active. Anthopoulos discussed this topic earlier this week - you can catch a quick recap of that by clicking here.
Not including waiver claims and minor league signing, here’s a look at Atlanta’s activity for roughly the last six weeks:
- Traded for Aaron Bummer by sending Michael Soroka, Jared Shuster, Nicky Lopez, Braden Shewmake and Riley Gowens to the Chicago White Sox.
- Sold the rights to Nick Anderson to the Kansas City Royals.
- Traded Kyle Wright to the Royals for Jackson Kowar.
- Signed relief pitcher (and maybe starting pitcher) Reynaldo Lopez.
- Re-signed Penn Murfee and Jackson Stephens.
- Acquired Jarred Kelenic, Marco Gonzales and Evan White for Kowar and Cole Phillips
- Traded Gonzales to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later.
- Re-signed Angel Perdomo.
- Sent White and Tyler Thomas to the Los Angeles Angels for David Fletcher and Max Stassi.
- Flipped Stassi to the White Sox for another player to be named later.
- Picked up Ray Kerr and Matt Carpenter from the San Diego Padres for Drew Campbell.
- Released Carpenter.
For some fans out there, they still equate name recognition with value. That’s not to say that some of the prospects - or past valuable MLB contributors - won’t go on to have successful MLB careers, but shipping out guys like Soroka and Wright showed that they were obviously no longer in the Braves plans (at least for 2024).
Were these moves sexy? I guess it depends on what you think high-velo bullpen arms, but despite the lack of headline-grabbing names, this is the single-biggest reconstitution a roster segment in this current era. Gone are end-of-the-bullpen long-men without eye-popping velocity like Josh Tomlin, Jerry Blevins and Michael Tonkin. Now the last guy in the bullpen might be Kerr, a lefty whose fastball averaged 96 MPH last season.
Yes, there has been money coming in and more money going out, but for a team that already had eight of its nine batters in place coming into the offseason - and addressed the opening in left field with Kelenic - there wasn’t much to do other than add to the end of the bench.
After the end of the 2023 season, assumptions and assertations were that the Braves might surf the biggest waves when it came to starting pitchers whether than was via free agency or the trade route. But other than the possibility of stretching out free agency signee Lopez as a starter, Atlanta hasn’t yet addressed the team’s rotation. Anthopoulos has gone on record that some of the rumors about starting pitching targets were true - but it is fair to ascertain that it could have been specific players they targeted and not the starting pitching position itself.
Given the additions they have made in the bullpen, Anthopoulos may be building enough bullpen depth that adding a meaningful starting pitcher this offseason might not be the likelihood that was prognosticated two months ago.
In days gone by, former General Manager “Trader Jack” McKeon was known for his propensity of player transaction as is modern-era GM Jerry Dipoto. When Anthopoulos took over as GM with Atlanta, he held on to the key prospects in the Braves system, a move that has proven shrewd.
Whether it has been aptitude, instinct, luck or analysis (and likely a combination of all four), Anthopoulos has spent his time in Atlanta making all the right moves, moving on from the right players and most importantly holding on to the best-of-the-bunch. Time will tell if any of the players he gave up this offseason will come back to haunt the team in future years - or if any of the signees, re-signees or acquisitions won’t work out.
Just because the back of a Braves jersey won’t be emblazed with the nameplate “Nola” or “Ohtani” or “Glasnow” - and probably no “Cease” - it doesn’t mean that Atlanta has sat on its loreals. No, this offseason hasn’t had a “win the offseason” move but not seeing the benefit of the moves that have been made is a fool’s errand.
The Braves assigned budget for next season allowed them to have money to spend this offseason and rather than dump most of that into one player - or maybe more accurately put, when they weren’t able to assign that budget to the player they wanted - Anthopoulos and crew leveraged those excess funds to trade for a couple of players they did want (and many more they did not).
There are benefits to corporate ownership versus private ownership in pro sports - and those that follow the Braves are seeing that now: get a budget, use the budget.
Ask some of the other Atlanta-area pro sports teams with private ownership if they get that same latitude.
If all those player moves weren’t enough for you, the team also added Tom Goodwin, Matt Tuiasosopo and Erick Abreu to their major league coaching staff to replace the outgoing Ron Washington, Eric Young, Sr. and Drew French. The impact of the coaching changes may end up with the biggest impact next season of all the moves - for better or for worse.
With Spring Training 2024 less than two months away, it is possible the Braves offseason roster work is largely complete. No sooner than those works are read, good ol’ AA may shock us all with a major move no one saw coming.