Predicting the Atlanta Braves 2021 Opening Day Roster

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    It has been a very eventful offseason for Major League Baseball, with many free agents signing with new teams, some teams cut significant players due to financial reasons, and stars are marketing themselves more than ever. While there is still the possibility that the Braves aren’t quite yet done with their signings, I will be making my personal predictions as to the Braves Opening Day Roster.

    Catchers (2) : Travis d’Arnaud, William Contreras

    New York Times

    Travis d’Arnaud was brought in last year on a 2 year deal worth $8 mil AAV. At the moment, this signing is looking more like a steal as the days go by, as d’Arnaud broke out with a huge hitting performance in 2020, with an OPS north of .900. d’Arnaud certainly earned his contract, and will without a doubt be the starting catcher on Opening Day. William Contreras, on the other hand, is a developing prospect that has been in the Braves organization for a while. He was called up to the majors in 2020 when d’Arnaud and Flowers were held back in Atlanta after possible Covid tracing. Contreras balled out in his limited time. He played in 4 games, going 4-10 with a double and three singles. Only concern was 4 strikeouts. That will go down as time goes on and as he gets used to Major League pitching of course, but his short stretch in 2020 proved that he had the potential to be our catcher of the future. Contreras’ Spring Training, and the other catchers’ Spring Training will definitely play a key role in who gets the backup job to d’Arnaud.

    Infielders (7) : Freddie Freeman (1B), Ozzie Albies (2B), Austin Riley (3B), Dansby Swanson (SS), Johan Camargo (3B), Jason Kipnis (2B), Jake Lamb (3B)

    Talking Chop – SB Nation

    The infield will more than likely look the same as last year. Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Jake Lamb, Johan Camargo, and Austin Riley are all locks. Freddie won the NL MVP last season. Ozzie Albies is easily the best defensive infielder on the team and has great switch hitting ability. Although Austin Riley has a tendency to strike out more than admirable, his power is amazing, and his ability to adjust to opposing pitcher’s sliders last season was incredible. Camargo is in the same boat as Riley, but his defensive playmaking and arm is something the left half of the infield needs next to Dansby Swanson. Plus, Camargo looked very good in the NLCS last year, and is nearly guaranteed to go on a hot streak, making him someone I can’t wait to see in 2021. Dansby is also a lock not only due to his great range on defense, but OPS above .800, along with providing a solid bat in the middle of our lineup. Jason Kipnis was signed a couple weeks ago, and he will likely make the team due to our lack of bench depth as well as veteran leadership. He will be a very nice bench bat.

    Outfielders (4) Ronald Acuña Jr (RF), Marcell Ozuna (LF), Cristian Pache (CF), Ender Inciarte (CF)

    Last Word on Sports

    The outfield won’t have much depth this year because the Braves let Adam Duvall go. However, Cristian Pache debuted in 2020, and I believe he is here to stay. His defense is already elite, and it will only get better. His bat was relatively average, but in the 2020 NLCS his bat looked pretty nice, even hitting his first career Homerun! Pache is the center fielder of the future for this team, and his time is now. In left field, the Braves will have Marcell Ozuna, who signed a 4 year deal this offseason worth $64 million, with a 5 year option worth an extra $16 million. Ozuna’s bat is insane, as he recorder an OPS north of 1.000 last season, while leading the NL in homeruns. His power is incredible, and his fielding isn’t even terrible. Not good by any means, but not terrible. His clubhouse presence also binds with this team amazingly, and his uplifting character brings an immaculate vibe to the players. In right field we have Ronald. Need I say more?

    Starting Pitchers (5) : Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Ian Anderson, Drew Smyly, Bryse Wilson

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Max Fried carried the rotation in 2020 until Ian Anderson came around. Fried and newly acquired Charlie Morton are locks to make the starting rotation, likely being the 1-2 before Mike Soroka comes back from injury. Ian Anderson should be a lock too. His rookie campaign was nasty, and he pitched lights out in the postseason too. Drew Smyly signed this offseason on a 1 year deal. As we know, if we sign somebody on a one year deal, they always ball out then leave, so I anticipate Smyly posting a 2.14 ERA with a 216-65 K-BB ratio. I put Bryse Wilson in here as well because I really do not want to see Lyke Wright on the roster. Wright needs more development and it’s clear. Wilson pitched lights out against the World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Wilson certainly had the stuff, it’s just that he needs to become consistent. That being said, once Soroka gets healthy, there is little belief that he wouldn’t be a focal point in the rotation.

    Relief Pitchers (8) : Will Smith (CL), Chris Martin, Josh Tomlin, AJ Minter, Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson, Huascar Ynoa, Sean Newcomb

    Tomahawk Take

    The bullpen was our strong point in terms of pitching in 2020, but won’t be as strong in 2021. With Shane Greene still a Free Agent, we still have yet to retain him, but the pen will retain some names from last year. Will Smith will likely take the closing role. His 3.4 HR/9 last year was terrible, but don’t expect that to happen again. He is an All-Star closer, and last year he contracted Covid, and didn’t even get to throw a bullpen until the second week of the season. With a Spring Training and regular transition to the regular season he will be just fine. Luke Jackson does not deserve to be on the roster at all, but management will make sure he gets a spot. I’d want to see Victor Arano in his spot, but Arano will have to wait until the season starts when he could fill an injury need. Josh Tomlin will be in the pen to relieve our bullpen in blowout games, so we can save some arms. Sean Newcomb was very nice from the pen in 2019, and I expect that to happen again in 2021. He spent all of 2020 in the Triple-A site, and he should be fine this year. Huascar Ynoa was absolutely nasty from the pen in 2020, and I would anticipate that to keep up. He has a nasty fastball-slider combo and deserves a chance. Chris Martin is a lock, as he’s been our most consistent reliever since we acquired him at the Trade Deadline in 2019. AJ Minter proved he is here to stay in 2020, as he sported a freakishly-strong ERA. Tyler Matzek came out of nowhere and also shoved like Minter. Minter-Matzek will be a nasty left handed 1-2 punch in the pen this year as well.

    Well, there we have it. My prediction for the 2020 Opening Day roster. Below I’ll list the full roster in alphabetical order and allow you to take a look.

    Opening Day Roster

    Pitchers –

    Ian Anderson, SP

    Max Fried, SP

    Luke Jackson, RP

    Chris Martin, RP

    Tyler Matzek, RP

    AJ Minter, RP

    Charlie Morton, SP

    Sean Newcomb, RP

    Will Smith, RP

    Drew Smyly, SP

    Josh Tomlin, RP

    Bryse Wilson, SP

    Huascar Ynoa, RP

    Catchers –

    William Contreras

    Travis d’Arnaud

    Infielders –

    Ozzie Albies, 2B

    Johan Camargo, 3B

    Freddie Freeman, 1B

    Jason Kipnis, 2B

    Jake Lamb, 3B

    Austin Riley, 3B

    Dansby Swanson, SS

    Outfielders –

    Ronald Acuña Jr, RF

    Ender Inciarte, CF

    Marcell Ozuna, LF

    Cristian Pache, CF

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