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With less than a month until Spring Training (barring a change of heart from the Player’s Union) the Braves have not addressed the gaping hole on the left side of the field. A fairly large hole left behind by non-tendering Adam Duvall, not yet re-signing Marcell Ozuna, & with no plans to run prospect Drew Waters out there for first pitch (that we know of).
That same void also leaves Freddie Freeman without protection in the lineup. Of course theoretically players can be moved around in the batting order to take over that role. But that would be taking from one hand to fill up the other.
One possible strategy could be to move Acuña to Ozuna’s former spot & fill the leadoff hole with Dansby or Ozzie, & have Pache in the 8th spot (9th spot if the Designated Hitter is implemented, but that scenario would require a whole other attempt at a solution).
But that still doesn’t answer the left field question. This article is working with our current roster, so no outside move speculation is factored in, even though I don’t think there’s any way General Manager Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t bring in a bat.
So our current left field options are:
1. Move the obvious Opening Day center fielder Cristian Pache over to left field & send Ender Inciarte to man the middle ground (please God no).
2. Promote prospect Drew Waters to the big league club & have him play left field (his natural position).
3. Move the starting third baseman Austin Riley to left field. He’s played there for the Braves at the MLB level, but his defensive metrics in LF are lacking, to say the least. Have Johan Camargo play third base (signed a 1-year/$1.36 million contract this offseason). Just last year, Spring Training was seen as the battle for third base between Camargo & Riley, both had solid camps, but Riley deservedly won the job. Camargo is currently playing in the Caribbean Series, representing the Dominican Republic for the Dominican club Águilas Cibaeñas.
4. The Braves have Austin Riley play left field & newly re-signed Pablo Sandoval mans the hot corner.
All that being said, none of those scenarios are how I see the Braves lining up come Opening Day, & hopefully not even Spring Training. The negotiations between MLB & MLBPA have gone sour surrounding a shortened 154-game regular season, expanded playoffs, & a National League Designated Hitter. The difference between last year’s negotiations & this year’s is that if an agreement can’t be reached then Spring Training & the Regular Season will start on the scheduled date.
If, and I think it will, the Designated Hitter is brought back to the National League, I expect to see Marcell Ozuna back in a Braves uniform in 2021. Beyond that, Anthopoulos has options still. The Braves have been linked to José Ramirez (top of my wishlist), Justin Turner (don’t think there’s any chance he doesn’t return to the Dodgers), Trey Mancini (Orioles), Joc Pederson (signed with the Cubs so mark him off), Adam Duvall (non-tendered by Atlanta), & Eddie Rosario (re-signed with the Twins so mark him off). And don’t put it past Anthopoulos to grab a guy off the waiver wire…
The player Anthopoulos brings in can either be a primary left fielder or third baseman & the Braves can make it work.
So even though the Braves have options with their current roster, none of them are ideal & they’re all a step back from last year’s team.