4 questions surrounding the Braves' roster

October 30th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Mark Bowman's Braves Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click hereAnd subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

This offseason might not be as stressful or emotional for Braves fans, who bid adieu to Freddie Freeman after the 2021 season and Dansby Swanson after 2022. But this still could be an eventful one for the team that will enter 2023 seeking a seventh straight National League East championship.

Here is a look at some of the questions you might have about the Braves’ offseason:

1) Which players have options?
The Braves have until five days after the conclusion of the World Series to decide whether to exercise the options for:

RHP Charlie Morton -- If Morton wants to continue pitching, he could be back with the Braves. But this doesn’t mean the soon-to-be 40-year-old pitcher will get the $20 million value included in his current option, which has no buyout.

OF Eddie Rosario -- It’s hard to find a left-handed hitter who can provide 20-25 homers for $9 million. So, I’m guessing this option will be exercised.

RHP Kirby Yates -- Yates has a $5.75 million option with a $1.25 million buyout. So, the question is, can Atlanta find a better reliever for the difference, which is $4.5 million? Yates will be 37 next year, but he did find more consistency as the season progressed. Plus, he gave this quote of the year:

“I have it some days and some days I don't, and the battle is trying to eliminate those days that you don't have it,” Yates said. “I always kind of prided myself on, 'If I did suck, it was still kind of good.' This year, when I’ve sucked, I’ve really sucked. So, we’re trying to get better at sucking, you know what I mean? When it’s good, it’s still pretty good.”

RHP Collin McHugh -- He has a $6 million option, which likely won’t be exercised.

LHP Brad Hand -- He has a $7 million option, which likely won’t be exercised.

2) Who are the other free agents?
RHP Joe Jiménez -- Though he needed time to regain strength after undergoing a back procedure last winter, he proved to be a reliable high-leverage option during the season’s second half. If the Braves believe he’s healthy, he could get a multi-year offer like fellow right-handed reliever Pierce Johnson, who re-signed with Atlanta on Wednesday.

OF Kevin Pillar -- It will require more than a Minor League deal to keep this veteran outfielder, who provided value with his glove and leadership.

RHP Jesse Chavez -- If the 40-year-old hurler wants to keep pitching, signing another Minor League deal with the Braves seems to make sense.

INF Ehire Adrianza -- Unlikely to return.

3) Who might be a non-tender candidate?
Teams have until Nov. 17 to decide whether to tender contracts to each of their arbitration-eligible players. Players not tendered a contract become free agents.

Michael Soroka is a prime non-tender candidate. Atlanta has paid him approximately $8.4 million over the past three seasons, during which he has thrown a combined 32 1/3 innings. But with Soroka out of Minor League options, the Braves can’t afford to give him a 40-man roster spot with the hope he can get back to where he was before he twice tore his right Achilles tendon.

The Braves have said they might want to take a chance on Yonny Chirinos turning things around next year. The cost of the gamble, approximately $1.5-2 million, isn’t outrageous. But he’s also out of options. So again, the question would be whether he is capable of staying on the 40-man roster all year.

Nicky Lopez could be in line for a bump up to a $4 million salary via arbitration. That might be viewed by some as a hefty price for a backup infielder. But Lopez is a Gold Glove-caliber defender who could provide great value while spelling Orlando Arcia and Ozzie Albies at both middle-infield positions next year. Lopez was acquired from the Royals before the Trade Deadline and spent this season’s final two months looking like he’s worth it.

4) Who might they be willing to trade?
AJ Smith-Shawver and this year’s first-round Draft pick Hurston Waldrep have strong trade values, but they also both have the potential to be a key piece within Atlanta’s rotation within the next couple of years. Vaughn Grissom would draw interest from other teams. But if the Braves are going to try to land a controllable frontline starter, they might have to deal one of their many regulars currently working with what is widely viewed as a team-friendly contract. This doesn’t mean Atlanta will enter the offseason looking to make a significant trade. But it didn’t necessarily enter last winter intent on dealing William Contreras. ‘Tis the season to evaluate all options.