Braves 25-man and 40-man Roster Crunch

Braves 25-man and 40-man Roster Crunch

Optimism always reigns supreme in Spring Training and this year more so than in the past 3 years. Our beloved Braves’ farm system is set to ripen and 2018 will be a big year in transition as those prospects fill out the Atlanta Braves roster.  As new GM Alex Anthopoulos addressed with the media earlier, this year it’s about the product at Suntrust, not at Gwinnett, Pearl, and so forth.  This is encouraging news for the dedicated fans that have had to sit through countless promises gone awry. Yes…this is the year where the Braves turn its head to the 25 men on the field, in the dugout, or in the pen and take pride in the product, not the prospect lists that have been held so dear in the recent past.

But there’s a bit of a problem that this team will come in contact with very soon that’s likely not to go away in the next 3-4 years especially with a team that relies on building its team internally and that is:

Who’s deserving of the roster spot?

Here’s how the current 40-man roster shakes out. The number in parenthesis is the number of options each player has left (shoutout to Braves Options for the info, or provides further details needed for each player). Players on free agent deals will not have additional information.

Atlanta Braves 40-man Roster

Pitchers

Jesse Biddle (1)

Aaron Blair (1)

Rex Brothers (signed MLB/MiLB deal so he can go back and forth from MLB to MiLB but is needed to be on 40-man)

Mauricio Cabrera (0)

Shane Carle (2)

Mike Foltynewicz (1)

Sam Freeman (0)

Max Fried (2)

Luiz Gohara (3)

Anyelo Gomez (Rule 5 pick & has to be on 25-man roster entire 2018 season)

Jason Hursh (1)

Scott Kazmir

Jacob Lindgren (2)

Brandon McCarthy

Adam McCreery (3)

A.J. Minter (3)

Akeel Morris (1)

Sean Newcomb (3)

Jose Ramirez (0)

Josh Ravin (0)

Ricardo Sanchez (3)

Lucas Sims (2)

Julio Teheran

Arodys Vizcaino (1)

Chase Whitley (0)

Dan Winkler (Rule 5 pick, can be optioned after 4/13)

Matt Wisler (1)

 

Catchers

Tyler Flowers

Kurt Suzuki

Chris Stewart (signed MLB/MiLB deal so he can go back and forth from MLB to MiLB but is needed to be on 40-man)

 

Infielders

Ozzie Albies (3)

Johan Camargo (2)

Charlie Culberson (0)

Freddie Freeman

Rio Ruiz (2)

Dansby Swanson (3)

 

Outfielders

Lane Adams (0)

Ender Inciarte (2)

Nick Markakis

Preston Tucker (1)

 

The Nitty Gritty 25-Man

It’s my opinion that unless a trade, injury, or free agent signing occurs before the season begins, the following players are locks for the 25-man roster:

Starting Pitchers (4): Teheran, Folty, McCarthy, Gohara

Catchers (2): Flowers, Suzuki

Infielders (4): Freddie, Albies, Swanson, Camargo

Outfielders (2):  Markakis, Ender

Relief Pitchers (5): Vizcaino, Ramirez, Freeman, Winkler, Minter

 

That’s 17 spots likely secured for Opening Day with battles going on for 1 starting pitcher, 2-3 infielders, 2-3 outfielders, and 2-3 relief pitchers.  Sounds like an open road to freedom to pursue a flexible roster, right? Not so fast. Here’s a list of problems the Braves have to navigate:

  1. Anyelo Gomez- As this year’s Rule-5 pick, Gomez has to make the 25-man or be offered back to the Yankees.
  2. Unless injured, Lane Adams, Charlie Culberson, Chase Whitley, Josh Ravin, Mauricio Cabrera, Jose Ramirez, Dan Winkler, and Sam Freeman have to make the team out of Spring Training or be designated for Assignment.
  3. Room for 2? Neither Ronald Acuna or Peter Moylan are on the 25-man roster and will have to be added when (or if in Moylan’s case) deemed ready.
  4. Kazhmere? or Kazh-no-more? The ultimate wild card in the rotation is being held by Scott Kazmir who hasn’t been healthy enough to play very much lately. If he shows he’s ready to compete for a rotation spot, that puts a finishing touch on the rotation and places many young guns that need MLB innings back at AAA.

 

Predicting 40-Man Roster Casualties

With the next wave of real prospects right around the corner, the real roster crunch will come in 2019 when the likes of Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright, Kolby Allard, and maybe even Austin Riley show they’re ready to blossom in the bigs. Still, there are going to be moves that need to be made as there’s simply no way that the 8 listed about (see 2) are going to fill out the rest of the 25-man roster.  Let’s get to cutting, shall we:

 

  1. Mauricio Cabrera- Injured, lost velo, and had a horrendous 2017 which showed all of his weaknesses and none of his strengths, I think it’s likely safe to say we’ve seen the last of Mo-Cab in a Braves uniform.
  2. Jason Hursh- Former 1st round pick was the definition of AAA mediocrity last year and there’s too much talent in this system to keep him on the 40-man.
  3. Chris Stewart- I think he’ll be removed from the 40-man and either get claimed or go to the minors and frame some pitches for the studs. Either way, he’ll get paid.

Final Breakdown

The current 40-man is full. To add Peter Moylan or Ronald Acuna, 2 players will have to be removed. While there are 3 candidates that seem easy to part with, it doesn’t make the decision any less easy. Options will have to be looked at and will likely play into roster decisions and players with options, especially relievers, will be burning up the road from Gwinnett to Atlanta. There are reasons that the Braves have held off making any big moves this season, but make no mistake, the current and future roster crunch has a lot to do with it.

 

 

3 Comments

Seems to me like Ravin, Whitley, and Kazmir should be casualties eventually. I think Biddle, Lindgren, Morris, and Anyelo have a lot more potential. If we get an OF then Tucker will be optioned out. If we get a real 3B then Ruiz will get optioned. I also don’t think Culberson is worth his spot if we add a good 3B. That’s another 5 spots on the 40 man that could be cleared along with the obvious 3 you mentioned. Everyone else (including Ruiz) still have options this year. What happens this year prior to the trade deadline will determine the fate of many others. This is make or break for everyone with a single option remaining. Do you really think any of Biddle, Blair, Brothers, Hursch, Morris, Wisler, Tucker (Ruiz, too) will be around in 2019 if they don’t show something special this year? Next year, Markakis will go along with Suzuki and McCarthy. We expect to have better replacements for each. By the trade deadline, AA will be wheeling and dealing from these players (some of which may end up being PTBNL).

Don’t forget that the SP prospects aren’t the only players that are on the cusp to being big league ready. There are numerous relievers, a catcher, a 3B, and obviously Acuna that could be part of the 2019 team. There could be 7-8 first year players on the team next year at some point. If Braves keep developing the system, the roster crunch will be real and other teams could take advantage of it in the Rule 5 draft like they’ve done to the Yankees these past few years.

That’s why the Braves are gonna be trading like mad sometime late this year. Gotta get value for value before the value is gone. There are still a lot of less than worthy prospects around, so a lot to cut or trade from. That is exactly how the Braves are going to fill the holes from the International prospect loss. Trade MLB ready marginal prospects for younger unproven international types. They’ll also need plenty of PTBNLs. Considering no World Series’ have been won in a long time, there is lots of room for improvement. The MLB team is thin at LF, 3B, and RP (maybe SS). The minors are thin at MI and 1B and the OFs are still years away (outside of Acuna). This Spring, things will thin out some. The Braves will have to make some moves with the players that don’t impress either in trades or releases – no more free passes. It’s time for the rubber to meet the road – all the potential in the world won’t get you to the playoffs. God forbid we should waste any more time with Bonifacios and Santanas and Jaces and Jim Johnsons. Time to produce.

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