Here's where Braves stand ahead of 2022

March 11th, 2022

ATLANTA -- Now that the lockout is complete, the Braves will diligently work toward building yet another championship-caliber roster.

A few months removed from winning the World Series, the Braves will come to camp with a little extra energy. But it remains to be seen whether they will be joined by Freddie Freeman.

Here is a quick look at where things stood before the lockout began.

Which players have been signed?
Nov. 15: Signed C Manny Piña to a two-year, $8 million deal

He provides experienced depth and the chance to give catching prospects Shea Langeliers and William Contreras more Minor League seasoning.

Nov. 22: Acquired RHP Jay Jackson from the Giants for cash considerations and a player to be named or further cash considerations

The Braves are hoping to benefit from the relief pitching surplus of the Giants, who didn’t have room for Jackson after he posted a 3.74 ERA over 23 appearances for them in 2021.

Nov. 29: Signed RHP Kirby Yates to a two-year, $8.25 million deal

Yates was one of the game’s best relievers before undergoing separate right elbow surgeries in both of the past two seasons. He’ll miss at least a good portion of the season’s first half. But the Braves owe him just $1 million during the first year of a deal that could become a bargain if Yates is healthy.

Nov. 29: Signed RHP Darren O’Day to a Minor League deal

The veteran reliever signed with the Yankees and then missed most of last season. He suffered a strained right rotator cuff and then a strained left hamstring, which was surgically repaired in 2018. This is a no-risk deal that gives him a chance to show he could be more than just a valuable mentor and leader within Atlanta’s bullpen.

What are the biggest remaining needs and who might they target to fill these holes?
The most significant need remains determining whether Freeman will stay with the Braves. If the perennial MVP candidate stays, the defending World Series champions will once again have one of the game’s best lineups. If he exits, then there will be a gaping hole to fill.

From a pitching perspective, the Braves can count on Charlie Morton, Max Fried and Ian Anderson to fill the first three spots of their rotation. Kyle Wright, Huascar Ynoa, Tucker Davidson and Touki Toussaint are options to fill the final two spots. But there may be a desire to acquire a more experienced pitcher to serve as the No. 4 or No. 5 starter.

Might there be a reunion with any of their remaining free agents?
World Series MVP , National League Championship Series MVP Eddie Rosario and  all became beloved figures in Atlanta during the 2021 postseason. But it seems unlikely that each of these three free agents will return. Ronald Acuña Jr. (right knee surgery) could return within the season’s first six weeks, and Marcell Ozuna will be eligible to return after retroactively serving a 20-game suspension for his domestic violence arrest.

Once Acuña is healthy, he could team up with Adam Duvall and Ozuna to give the Braves three quality outfielders. But with the universal designated hitter in place, there could be room for the club to bring back at least one of its free-agent outfielders. Soler has served as a DH in the past, but during his time in Atlanta, he looked like a better defender than Ozuna.

While the outfielders draw a lot of the attention, the Braves could also benefit from re-signing Ehire Adrianza, a bench player who provides value as a capable switch-hitter and versatile defender.

Are there any players they are looking to trade?
With the acquisition of Piña, the Braves have the option to shop Langeliers and Contreras, who provide value as young high-upside catchers. The club could also discuss what to do with Cristian Pache and Drew Waters, a couple of outfield prospects who have seen their respective values plummet over the past year. But for now, it would likely be best to remain patient with the hope Pache or Waters begin to live up to their potential.

What outstanding arbitration cases are on the docket?
The Braves avoided arbitration with backup outfielder Guillermo Heredia, who received a one-year, $1 million deal, and backup infielder Orlando Arcia, who received a two-year, $3 million deal that includes a $2 million option for 2024.

Fried, third baseman Austin Riley, shortstop Dansby Swanson, Duvall, righty Luke Jackson, righty Mike Soroka, lefty Tyler Matzek, lefty A.J. Minter and lefty Sean Newcomb were all tendered contracts. The arbitration process will determine their respective salaries for 2022. This could come via an agreement or an arbitration hearing.

Who was non-tendered?
The Braves non-tendered righty Richard Rodriguez, righty Jasseel De La Cruz and infielder Johan Camargo. Rodriguez provided quality bullpen depth for the first month that followed his Trade Deadline acquisition from Pittsburgh. But his September struggles led the club to remove him from the arbitration process by not tendering him a contract.