LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As the Braves concluded the Florida portion of their exhibition season on Wednesday, they had a pretty good idea about how their Opening Day roster might look. But before determining exactly how they might fill the final bullpen and bench spots, they will wait a
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As the Braves concluded the Florida portion of their exhibition season on Wednesday, they had a pretty good idea about how their Opening Day roster might look. But before determining exactly how they might fill the final bullpen and bench spots, they will wait a few more days to see if any attractive external options develop.
"We're still talking it through," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "There's still probably a couple scenarios."
Before determining exactly who might fill the final roster spots, the Braves must determine whether they will stick with their current plan to utilize an eight-man bullpen. For now, they are simply waiting to see if they can acquire a hitter whose potential value would make it more appealing to go with a five-man bench.
The Braves will play an exhibition game against the Yankees on Friday night at SunTrust Park and then likely make some final assessments. But there is a chance they won't make their final decisions until all teams are required to submit their Opening Day rosters by Sunday's noon ET deadline.
"Guys are still in play," Snitker said. "We talk about it every day and it will probably go down to the end."
It will be interesting to see what the Braves might do with the bullpen. A battle is being waged between veteran right-handed relievers Chaz Roe and David Hernandez, who joined the Braves on a Minor League deal on Sunday.
Roe issued two walks, hit a batter and recorded two strikeouts while tossing a scoreless sixth inning during Monday's game against the Mets. He then worked a perfect seventh while facing Tim Tebow and two other Minor Leaguers.
For now, Roe remains the favorite, but this is partly due to the fact that Hernandez didn't necessarily impress with his fastball or curveball as he surrendered a hit and issued a walk while facing a group of Orioles Minor Leaguers on Tuesday.
The Braves provided a clearer picture of their roster picture on Tuesday, when they released left-handed reliever Paco Rodriguez and purchased the contracts of left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty and backup outfielder Emilio Bonifacio.
Instead of continuing to deal with the uncertainty created by Rodriguez and the surgically repaired elbow that has prevented him from pitching in a Major League game since May 29, 2015, the Braves decided to cut bait. This move improved the possibility of carrying Kevin Chapman, a lefty reliever who was claimed off waivers from the Astros earlier this month.
With O'Flaherty and Ian Krol already guaranteed roster spots, Chapman would provide a third left-handed option in the bullpen. The Braves will likely go this route if they don't find the bat that would influence their decision to go with a five-man bench.
If the Braves go with an eight-man bullpen and stick with their internal options, their four-man bench would consist of Jace Peterson, Chase d'Arnaud, Bonifacio and backup catcher Kurt Suzuki.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.