Atlanta Braves: Austin Riley and Johan Camargo make their outfield debut

LAKELAND, FL - MARCH 01: Austin Riley #83 of the Atlanta Braves bats during the Spring Training game against the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on March 1, 2018 in Lakeland, Florida. The Braves defeated the Tigers 5-2. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
LAKELAND, FL - MARCH 01: Austin Riley #83 of the Atlanta Braves bats during the Spring Training game against the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on March 1, 2018 in Lakeland, Florida. The Braves defeated the Tigers 5-2. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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After an offseason full of rumors regarding the 2019 Atlanta Braves outfield, one of the proposed solutions is finally coming to fruition this spring.

For the first time since the start of the 2019 Grapefruit League spring slate, Atlanta Braves prospect Austin Riley and current utility infielder Johan Camargo are manning the corner outfield spots in the starting lineup against the Washington Nationals today.

The Braves fan base went into this past offseason with unbridled optimism that General Manager Alex Anthopolous would make a significant signing or trade to bring in an impact bat to play RF in 2019.  As days turned into weeks, which turned into months, it became increasingly evident that the Nick Markakis signing would be the extent of their OF acquisitions.

Now, with 3B currently occupied by FA signee Josh Donaldson, Camargo was left without a starting role and Riley without a spot on the roster.  In an effort to promote roster flexibility, it was anticipated by the baseball community that both would be given a chance to showcase their skills in the outfield, but as of today, neither has received time beyond the infield.

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After giving both players several weeks to get comfortable at the plate and in the field this spring, the team has finally decided to greenlight this experiment, and we’ll have to wait and see how this is handled as we inch closer to opening day.

With Josh Donaldson and Markakis both on one-year contracts for 2019, this inconspicuous move could prove relevant for 2020 and beyond.  If both players continue to show stark improvement at the plate, and if either proves to be sound in the OF, then that could potentially fill two holes in the lineup if the Braves choose to decline Markakis’ option and do not resign Donaldson.

If Donaldson has a monster year in 2019 and Riley proves that he can handle LF, the Braves may elect to re-sign the 3B to a multi-year deal and have two big-time power threats from the right side of their lineup moving forward.

Either way, the Atlanta Braves have a number of options for the lineup beyond Spring Training.

While frustrating to many fans, the lack of activity this spring could prove to be a blessing if this trial is ultimately successful.  Instead of locking in players to long-term deals during the offseason, they put together another strong lineup consisting of short-term contracts which keeps 3B and LF/RF open heading into the 2020 season.

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If the experiment fails, then a number of options in the free agent and trade markets will surely surface for the Braves next offseason.