This October, after hitting many milestones such as reaching the single-season home run record for a team, Ronald Acuña Jr. becoming the first member of the 40/70 club, and finishing with the best record in baseball, the Atlanta Braves exited in the first round of the playoffs. In what could be described as déjà vu, the divisional rival Philadelphia Phillies trounced them once again in four games.
To avoid future first-round exits at the hands of Philadelphia, and more importantly, maintain their league-wide dominance, here is what the Atlanta front office needs to do this offseason (that doesn’t include the “signing Shohei Ohtani” pipe dream).
Atlanta Braves must address left field
With the Braves deciding to decline fan favorite and 2021 NLCS hero Eddie Rosario’s club option, it’s safe to say that they are in the market for a left fielder. Over the last year, left fielders batted on average below other position players. With many names floating around in free agency, signing a left fielder (or any new outfielder) would allow for Marcell Ozuna to permanently move to designated hitter.
Reach: Cody Bellinger
Target: Jung-hoo Lee, Travis Jankowski, Adam Duvall
Atlanta Braves need starting pitching
The 2023 Atlanta Braves rotation was rife with injury. With Kyle Wright out for most of the season, and Max Fried only returning in August, the starting pitching core consisted of Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton, Bryce Elder, and two spots that rotated between various minor league prospects like AJ Smith-Shawver and Dylan Dodd.
One or two more starting pitchers would allow for more consistent defensive play. The front office has already made some moves clearing the roster, with Michael Soroka going to the White Sox and Kyle Wright to the Royals. However, with names such as Aaron Nola and Sonny Gray signing with the Phillies and Cardinals, respectively, the number of quality starting pitchers is starting to dwindle. In any case, the roster needs one or two more starting pitchers.
Reach: Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Jordan Montgomery
Target: Michael Lorenzen
Atlanta Braves must re-sign Max Fried
Max Fried will become a free agent after the 2024 season, meaning the front office has the entire year to negotiate with one of their aces. Though his 2023 was cut short due to injury, and his performance didn’t match his 2022 outing, he is an integral part of the pitching core.
Unless the Atlanta Braves can find someone of his caliber, it would be best for the Braves to stick with him and get him to re-sign after the next season.