ATLANTA -- With the Braves entering the 2018 season with a four-man rotation, they will carry a third catcher to serve as an extra position player until they opt to add a fifth starting pitcher..
Accounting for the final cuts that were made on Wednesday, there was no reason to be surprised when the Braves gave the final two Opening Day position-player roster spots to catcher Chris Stewart, who will serve as the team's third catcher, and outfielder Lane Adams, who struggled throughout Spring Training but seemingly benefited from the fact that he is out of Minor League options.
"I pretty much wanted to let [Adams] know we brought him here because of what he did last year and the value he brought last year," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "You look at his spring, and it wasn't real good. You have to remember the good he did last year."
Danny Santana produced a solid Spring Training and provides more versatility than Adams. But because Santana is on a Minor League contract, the Braves opted to have him begin the season with Triple-A Gwinnett.
Because the Braves will need to make multiple moves during the early part of this season, they didn't want to risk the chance of losing Santana, who is also out of options.
"We're going to need Danny Santana at some point in time," Snitker said. "We love his skill set and love everything he brings."
Atlanta opens the season with 13 position players: catchers Tyler Flowers, Kurt Suzuki and Stewart; infielders Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Ryan Flaherty and Charlie Culberson; and outfielders Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis, Preston Tucker, Peter Bourjos and Adams.
The 12-man pitching staff consists of starters Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, Brandon McCarthy and Sean Newcomb, and relievers Arodys Vizcaino, A.J. Minter, Jose Ramirez, Peter Moylan, Sam Freeman, Dan Winkler, Brothers and Carle.
The Braves toyed with beginning the season with six outfielders, but they altered their plans on Sunday, when they reached one-year agreements with Bourjos and Flaherty, the latter of whom took the roster spot and starting role that had been briefly earmarked for Rio Ruiz.
Flaherty will serve as Atlanta's primary third baseman in the absence of Johan Camargo, who joins left-handed pitcher Luiz Gohara and right-handed reliever Chase Whitley as the only Braves who begin the season on the 10-day disabled list. Camargo (sore right oblique muscle) will be eligible for activation on April 5. Gohara (sprained left ankle) could join the rotation around the start of May. Whitley (staph infection) could join the bullpen within the next couple weeks.
Left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren underwent a second Tommy John surgery on Tuesday. Lindgren can eventually be placed on the 60-day disabled list to help make room on the 40-man roster for right-handed pitcher Anibal Sanchez and outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., who both could be added to the Braves' roster within the next few weeks.
If Acuna is promoted after April 13, Atlanta will gain an extra year of contractual control. Sanchez will fill a rotation spot in Gohara's absence, but he might be added to the roster to serve as a reliever next week.