Projecting the Braves' 2020 Opening Day roster

November 6th, 2019

ATLANTA -- It’s far too early to accurately project what the Braves' Opening Day roster will be. But here, you’ll find some information that will help you make your own projections and critique what is written below.

Beginning next year, teams will carry 26 players (a maximum of 13 pitchers) on their active roster throughout the season. With this in mind, Atlanta's offseason plans will need to ensure they have the depth necessary to take advantage of this rule aimed at strengthening the bench.

Here’s an early projection:

Possibilities: Free agents/trades
While Flowers is still capable of being behind the plate for 80 games, the Braves will be among the teams who take a serious look at Yasmani Grandal, who stands as the top catcher on this year’s free-agent market. Grandal would fill a more primary role than Brian McCann and Kurt Suzuki have while working alongside Flowers the past few years. There’s a definite need to add quality at backstop for 2020, but the club is also aware that prospects Shea Langeliers and Willam Contreras might be deemed ready at some point during the '21 season.

First base
Possibilities: None
Freeman has already regained most of his range of motion since having a bone spur removed from his right elbow a week early in the offsesaon. He should not have any limitations when he reports for Spring Training.

Second base
Possibilities: None
Albies has established himself as one of the game’s top young players. The decision to move him from shortstop has continued to pay dividends as he has provided Gold Glove-caliber defense each of the past two seasons.

Possibilities: None
Swanson’s postseason success likely restored some of the confidence that was shaken by a midseason right heel injury, which sidelined him for a month.

Third base
Locks: None
Possibilities: , ,
The Braves’ primary focus is to re-sign Donaldson, who spent this summer providing MVP-caliber production. If Atlanta is unable to bring him back, it could give the third-base job back to Camargo or attempt to fill this need via free agency. There’s also a chance Austin Riley could eventually fill this role, but he will likely begin the 2020 season at Triple-A Gwinnett.

Locks: , Johan Camargo
Possibilities: Free agents/trades
These familiar faces could be back in their same role next year. Culberson should be fully recovered after sustaining multiple facial fractures when he was hit by a pitch on Sept. 14. Camargo, who suffered a hairline right shin fracture in September, is also expected to come to camp without any limitations.

Locks: , , ,
Possibilities: Free agents/trades
Quite honestly, Acuña could be considered to be the only lock. But I don’t think the Braves will be willing to deal Inciarte until they get a better feel for when top prospects Cristian Pache and Drew Waters might be ready to make the jump to the Majors. With Markakis returning on a one-year deal, he will likely platoon with Duvall in left field. There have been rumors the Red Sox might be willing to deal superstar Mookie Betts. A cheaper and less significant acquisition would be Starling Marte. But until the Pirates hire a GM, we won’t know whether he’ll be available.

Starting pitchers
Locks: , ,
Possibilities: , , , free agents/trades
The Braves would like to pair a front-line starter with Soroka, so they are expected to be among the teams bidding for Madison Bumgarner and Zack Wheeler on the free-agent market. Atlanta declined Teheran’s $12 million option, so it will look for better value at a more affordable price with a veteran like Wade Miley, who has tasted success each of the past two seasons with the Brewers and Astros. Newcomb will be given a chance to start during Spring Training, and he could supply rotation depth. But he might be more valuable back in the bullpen.

Locks: , ,
Possibilities: , , , , , Jeremy Walker, , , , , ,
Melancon should be back in the closer’s role and Greene should once again provide experience as long as the Braves are willing to provide the raise he’ll require in arbitration. Though occasionally frustrating, Jackson made strides this year and could be a valuable future asset. Atlanta may attempt to re-sign O’Day, Martin and Tomlin to one-year or Minor League deals. Minter, Dayton, Sobotka, Weigel, Wilson and Ynoa are all capable of providing quality depth in the bullpen department. If Webb’s right elbow cooperates, he could further strengthen this depth.