What’s Next for the Atlanta Braves?

Photo by Erin Doering on UnSplash.com

The Atlanta Braves were eliminated in the National League Division Series by the Philadelphia Phillies after four games. During the regular season, the Braves tallied 101 wins to 61 losses tied for the second most wins in the MLB behind the Houston Astros and tied with the New York Mets. Until Spring Practice begins there will be plenty of questions looming over Truist Park. 

How do the Braves handle Marcell Ozuna and his off-the-the-field behavior? 

Ozuna was arrested on May 29, 2021, for domestic violence at his Sandy Springs home. The police arrived at the house to find Ozuna choking his wife around the neck with both hands in the doorway of the house. Ozuna was arrested and sat out the remainder of what would become the championship campaign for the Braves. Again on Aug. 19, 2022, Ozuna was pulled over for speeding and then subsequently arrested for DUI as he was intoxicated to the point it was visible to the officers on the scene. The 2022 season was the most games played, hits and runs that Ozuna has earned in his three-year stint with Atlanta. However, it seems he is finding trouble at the same rate he is filling the stat box. With one year left on his contract and due $16 million would it be best to cut ties with the center-fielder and utilize the younger assets while saving some valuable cap space? 

With rumors that the Los Angeles Angels are actively shopping Shoei Ohtani, the Braves should prioritize jumping into this market. Seen in the NLDS the bullpen was depleted by Spencer Strider throwing with a torn oblique, Charlie Morton getting pulled from the pound after being hit by a returned ball and relief pitcher Tyler Matzek set to undergo Tommy John surgery this week. Ohtani is one of the league’s most technical pitchers and a guaranteed upgrade at the batter’s box to the current bullpen giving value through both phases of the game and being able to stay on the mound longer with a designated hitter. 

There are also three position players with expired contracts. Dansby Swanson and Adam Duvall are the key free agents to watch for new contracts or potential departures. Swanson uses the same agency that Freddie Freeman does and after his last two years in Atlanta, Swanson could find himself as one of the best shortstops in baseball and out of the Braves’ budget, similar to Freeman. 

Though there are more questions than answers this offseason, the organization should have one objective which is keeping its core together and healthy. After a slow start coming off of winning the World Series, the Braves rallied to earn the second-best record in the league. The Braves star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. tore his ACL this season and Ozzie Albies fractured his hand. This team has found ways to overcome adversity and will continue to do so if the organization keeps all the pieces of the puzzle together and give them the appropriate tools for success.