Well, might as well move on, right? Or at least try to.
Today, I hope to start a series that will continue that will look at the 40-man roster and potentially a few other players. We’ll look at their 2019 season, their contract/service time situation, and take a look at 2020. Let’s do this alphabetically and give exit interviews to six players whose last name begins with either an A, B, or C.
Of note, the arbitration estimates are based on MLB Trade Rumors’ projections, which quite often are fairly close to reality.
Ronald Acuna Jr.
2019 Salary: $1 million
Signed through: 2026 w/two club options
2020 Salary: $1 million
2019: His follow-up to a Rookie of the Year award was nearly flawless, though questions about his hustle after a few instances have stained his reputation for some. On the field, the 21-year-old slashed .280/.365/.518 with 41 homers and a league-leading 37 steals. His wOBA of .369 was actually a bit worse than 2018, but he still posted the first 5-win season of his career. In the playoffs, despite gaining a bullseye for his “antics” as some have called them, Acuña Jr. went 8-for-18 with three doubles, a triple, and a homer while reaching base 13 times in just 23 plate appearances. Yet…he scored only one run. That just might be a reason for the Braves’ failure. Maybe.
2020 At A Glance: Due to a team-friendly contract, the Braves and Acuña will be together for a long time. Does he occasionally make mental errors? Yes. But he also is a very special player who is already a perennial threat to win an MVP. It’s beyond time to stop being hypercritical of what Acuña isn’t and be grateful for what he is. As a second point, I think the Braves may have found a long-time home for Acuña in right field. He does his best to play center, but seems to see the ball best in right field where he had 5 DRS in about 200 innings last year.
2020 Salary: $1 million
Signed through: 2025 w/two club options
2019 Salary: $1 million
2019: In February, I wrote at my former home that nobody was more important for the 2019 Braves’ success than Ozzie Albies. He may have not been the most productive player in the clubhouse, but in terms of importance, I still remain convinced. Albies meant the world to the Braves during the season. He finished with a 4.6 fWAR, doing all the things you want to see from a player in his second full season. Higher walk rate and lower strikeout rate? Check. More frequent hard contact? Check. A thirty point increase in your wOBA? You betcha. And he is still only 22.
2020 At A Glance: One of his significant improvements came against right-hand pitching as Albies hit at a .267/.334/.444 clip against them. That still lags behind what he does to left-handers but is still notably better than his work against righties in 2018. Even more improvement with his left-hand swing and approach might make Albies a megastar in this game. Some would argue he already is.
Pending Free Agent
2019 Salary: $1.5 million
2019: Picked up right before the season began, Blevins was about everything you should have expected him to be – a replacement-level player who had to be in the right situation to be effective. In the right situation, Blevins was as good as ever, limiting left-hand hitters to a .180/.261/.279 clip. But his vulnerability against righties led to Blevins being left off the 2019 NLDS roster as the Cardinals were so righty-heavy.
2020 At A Glance: A free agent, Blevins faces an uncertain future. The push to speed up the game led to the rule that could kill the careers of left-hand specialists: all pitchers must face a minimum of three hitters. Now, there is a bit of a loophole here – the minimum isn’t needed if the inning ends before the minimum is reached. So, LOOGYs could face one or two players if one of them leads to a conclusion of an inning. It remains to be seen how the baseball market will treat the Blevins of the world, though. There will still be enough roster room for LOOGYs as teams can carry up to 13 pitchers, but managers may still opt for a guy with more options in situations he can be utilized. As a result, I think Blevins – if he doesn’t just retire because he’s 36 – will have to settle for a minor league offer with an invite to spring training. That quite likely won’t come with the Braves.
2020 Salary: $600,000 (pre-arbitration estimate)
Last year pre-arbitration, controlled through 2023
2019 Salary: $575,000
2019: It was a massively disappointing season for Camargo, who slashed .272/.349/.457 in 2018 with a 3.3 fWAR. Relegated to a super-sub role, Camargo neither seemed to be used by his manager as a super-sub, nor pushed Brian Snitker to give him more time. He spent a couple of weeks in the minors in August, which not only was humbling but may have cost him a chance at hitting the Super 2 expected deadline. He went 5-for-11 upon his return with a pair of doubles and just as many homers before fracturing his shin on a foul ball. Camargo finished 2019 with a .233/.279/.384 slash.
2020 At A Glance: In a way, not getting to Super 2 may also be a good thing for Camargo – provided he does fall short. It’ll give him another chance to build up value. Defensively, Camargo played six positions last season and while nobody is going to give him any awards, he looked decent enough in the outfield. The Braves could replace Camargo in the offseason, but I think he’ll stick around – especially considering his potential to replicate his 2018 success.
Pending Free Agent
2019 Salary: $11.5 million (Braves paid a pro-rated portion of $555K)
2019: After multiple concussions had Cervelli reassessing his future, he worked his way back before the Pirates did him a solid by releasing him and letting him get a shot with a contender. That contender became the Braves and in 14 games with Atlanta, ‘Cisco hit .281/.378/.688 with two dingers. He didn’t catch often but looked decent when he did.
2020 At A Glance: The retirement of Brian McCann and uncertainty surrounding Tyler Flowers‘ option could open up a pathway back to the Braves for Cervelli, who surprisingly caught ahead of Flowers in Game 1 of the NLDS once McCann had been removed in a double switch. On the other hand, how much do you want to rely on a 34-year-old catcher with concussion issues even as your backup catcher?
2020 Salary: $1.8 million (arbitration estimate)
One more season of arbitration remains, controlled through 2021
2019 Salary: $1.395 million
2019: Predictably, Culberson’s numbers took a dive after his career 2018 campaign. That said, the dive wasn’t nearly as severe as expected and his .306 wOBA was still a solid mark for a backup who can play nearly everywhere. Culberson had a number of highlights during the season, though none bigger than his throw to nail a runner at the plate back in July. Sadly, his season ended when he got plunked in the face, which further removed some of the Braves’ great depth on the bench.
2020 At A Glance: While he certainly wasn’t as big in 2019 as he was in 2018, I fully expect the Braves to retain Culberson’s services unless they make the decision that since Camargo is roughly the same type of player, they’d rather go the cheaper route than keep both. I don’t expect that to happen, though.
Hoped you enjoyed the first of what I believe will be six rundowns. What do you think? Should the Braves bring back Blevins and/or Cervelli? Should they move Camargo and/or Culberson? Let me know below and thanks for reading.