Last season was a mediocre one for the Atlanta Braves. They finished in third place in the National League East, and their All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman missed a good chunk of the season with a fractured left wrist. In addition, their starting rotation was in shambles. No starting pitcher for the Braves who threw 20 innings or more as a starter had an ERA under 4.00.
Atlanta was active in the offseason, but the team acquired veterans in the twilight of their careers. They started by moving on from Matt Kemp, sending him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Charlie Culberson and cash. Two days after the trade with Los Angeles, they released Gonzalez from his contract and he became a free agent. And as we know, he later joined the Mets.
The major piece of the pie that the Braves acquired was McCarthy. He had a decent season in Los Angeles last year, with a 3.98 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 2.62 BB/9, and a 6.99 K/9. Oddly enough if you compared McCarthy’s stats to the Braves starting rotation from last season, he’d look like an ace. Steamer projects a 4.46 ERA, 7.62 K/9, and a 2.98 BB/9 for him this season.
Two days after the Braves released Gonzalez, they made another trade, this time with the Houston Astros. The Braves acquired Preston Tucker from Houston for a player to be named later. Tucker put up outstanding numbers in spring training, and based on his performance, he might be able to snag the starting left fielder job away from Lane Adams.
Earlier this month, the Braves took a chance and signed Anibal Sanchez to a minor league contract. Sanchez has had back-to-back horrific seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Last season, Sanchez had a 6.41 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP in 28 games for the Tigers. And personally, I’m excited to see how Ozzie Albies does this season. In 57 games with the Braves last season, he was electric. He hit .286/.354/.456 with six home runs in 217 at-bats. He’s had a great spring and could be due for a solid full season.
The Braves’ most exciting prospect, however, is set to begin the year in the minors. Ronal Acuña Jr. was optioned to the minors and is likely to stay there at least until the team gains an extra year of control on him sometime in the middle of April.
The Braves likely aren’t going to wow anybody. PECOTA’s projected standings have them going 76-84 this year, and while they could be contenders in the relatively near future, it doesn’t seem like the team will reach that level just yet.