If the Atlanta Braves want to achieve their goal of winning the World Series, after coming up just short a year ago, they have a few holes they need to sure up. Several moves need to be made in order for them to remain at the top of the National League.
They are possibly losing Marcell Ozuna, who was a big part of their lineup last year. Atlanta needs to look to replace him or seek improvement from some of their young players. Additionally, they needed to add to their starting rotation to make it deep in the playoffs once again. If the Braves can achieve those goals in the offseason, they look to stay at the top of the NL in 2021 once again.
Add Power To The Lineup
Young star Ronald Acuña Jr. and reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman are returning to the lineup, but NL home run leader Ozuna is a free agent. On the chance that Ozuna walks, the Braves will need to get someone to drive runs in behind Freeman in the order. Ozuna will likely command a contract upwards of $100 million, which Atlanta rarely hands out. If they don’t re-sign him, it is important that the team signs another big bat in free agency, like Nelson Cruz or J.T. Realmuto, who the Braves have been in talks with. Atlanta needs to sign Ozuna or another power free agent to preserve their offense.
Potential Breakout Stars
Atlanta also needs youngsters like Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley and Cristian Pache to develop and become more consistent on the offensive side of the ball. The top four in the Braves’ lineup was unstoppable in 2020, but the rest of the team failed to produce runs. This is what led to their downfall when they faced better pitching in the playoffs.
Swanson and Riley both showed potential in prior years, but have never put it all together. Pache only played in a few postseason games against the Dodgers, so we have yet to see if he is capable of putting it together at the MLB level. However, he is one of the top-rated prospects in the league, so everyone can see the future star he is capable of being. These players with the organization have not taken the next step in their development yet and the team is waiting for them to do so. If the Braves have a more balanced offense, they will be a threat once again next season.
Starting Rotation Improvement
The main weakness of the Braves during the 2020 sprint was their starting pitching. After Cole Hamels and 2019 All-Star Mike Soroka got injured, the Braves lost two of the five starters they expected to have available. At the start of the season, Sean Newcomb, Mike Foltynewicz and Touki Toussaint all struggled and were sent down to the alternate site. Others like Robbie Erlin, Tommy Milone and Josh Tomlin were all inconsistent and in and out of the rotation.
However, going into next season, it looks like the rotation will be much improved. Soroka will likely return for Opening Day next to Max Fried and rookie Ian Anderson, who were the only stars of the staff last season. The Braves have already signed Drew Smyly for $11 million and Charlie Morton for $15 million in free agency to help out their rotation. They also have Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson, who shined in the postseason and will provide some depth to the staff. With the variety of options at their disposal, the Braves starting pitching looks to be greatly improved for the upcoming season.
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