5 Ways Atlanta Braves Roster Could Look Different in 2014
Ways Atlanta Braves Roster Could be Different in 2014
The Atlanta Braves could have a very different roster in 2014 than what they will have at the end of this season. With a plethora of injuries and several player's contracts coming to an end, the offseason is sure to be a busy one for the Braves' management and front office.
Freddi Gonzalez and his staff will have some major decisions to make in preparation for next year. All-Star catcher Brian McCann's contract expires at season's end, as well as the contracts of Tim Hudson, Paul Maholm and Jordan Schafer. Combine that with the absence of a true leadoff hitter on the squad and a very inexperienced starting rotation, and the Braves could be looking to make some big moves in the offseason.
Several of these moves could (and should) come from within the Braves organization itself. The emergence of Evan Gattis as a premiere source of power provides the Braves with the ability to shake things up a bit without dipping into the always volatile free agent market. And the embarrassment of riches the team currently possesses in the pitching department may well soften the blow of certain contract expirations. The fact that the Braves' pitching talent is so young will also free up salary to be spent elsewhere. If McCann, Hudson and Maholm's contracts do all indeed come off the books, the best place to spend that money would likely be at the top of the order. The Braves desperately need a true lead off hitter, the only problem is figuring out where to put such a player in the field.
Evan Gattis as Starting Catcher
Evan Gattis has posted a .256 BA, 15 HR and 39 RBI in 195 AB so far this season. While the batting average could be higher, Gattis' power and production could make it easy for the Braves to let go of Brian McCann. McCann's contract will be up at the end of the season and the veteran catcher will be of great interest to a host of American League teams as a potential designated hitter. Should he go, Braves fans will mourn the loss of McCann, undoubtedly, but they should be equally excited to see what Gattis can do given a full season of playing time.
Tim Hudson May Have Thrown His Last Pitch as a Brave
Another contract expiring at season's end is that of Tim Hudson. The 37-year-old pitcher also just broke his ankle against the New York Mets, ending his season and possibly his career as a Brave. If the likes of Brandon Beachy and Alex Wood perform well in Hudson's absence for the rest of the season, it is likely the long-time Brave won't be returning next year.
Will Jordan Schafer Stay or Go?
Jordan Schafer has been a brilliant addition to the Braves' bench this season. Unfortunately, he is out for roughly six weeks after being placed on the disabled list on July 4 with a stress fracture in his ankle. Schafer has completely redefined his career. After being cut from the lowly Houston Astros, the Braves signed Schafer to a one year deal in the offseason. In 125 AB this season, he has posted a .312 BA and .399 OBP. Schafer may not be an everyday player, but he is an excellent spot-starter and a spark coming off the bench. However, with the Braves outfield swimming in high profile (and to this point highly overpaid) players, Schafer isn't likely to get a whole lot of playing time. The Braves may choose to let him go, and if they do it will be curious to see if he can further develop, perhaps becoming a prototypical leadoff hitter for whoever is willing to give him a chance.
Paul Maholm Won't Be Resigned
Paul Maholm will also see his contract with the Braves expire at the end of the season, and there is very little incentive for the team to resign him. Currently on the disabled list, Maholm has been solid but nothing spectacular. The most likely scenario is that the Braves will let Maholm go, making their starting rotation for next season Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy, Julio Teheran, Kris Medlen and Alex Wood.
Dan Uggla Traded for Leadoff Bat
Dan Uggla is under contract with the Braves until the end of the 2015 season, but his offensive ineptitude may tempt the team into trading him. Combine the salary coming off the books from contract expirations with offloading Uggla and the Braves could sign or trade for a premiere leadoff hitter, and second base should be the position they look hardest at. No outfield positions are available in the Braves' starting lineup and Andrelton Simmons is not likely to relinquish his starting job at shortstop because of his stellar defense. This leaves the second base position as the only one available to look for top-of-the-order talent.