Chopcast: Braves continue to reshuffle roster moving into 2015
With the latest trade of David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve to the New York Yankees, a deal that brought well-regarded pitching prospect Manny Banuelos to Atlanta, the Braves organizational re-shuffling continued last week.
The deal guarantees that at least 12 players from the 2014 Opening Day roster, including starter Ervin Santana (who started his season in the minors while prepping for his Braves debut), will not be playing for the organization on Opening Day 2015. That number does not factor in the likes of Ryan Buchter, Tyler Pastornicky, Gus Schlosser, Ian Thomas or Luis Avilan ... players still in the organization that are not necessarily guaranteed to make the initial 25-man roster.
President of baseball operations John Hart has certainly made waves in his inaugural season at the helm. Two of the team's top two position players -- Jason Heyward and Justin Upton -- have been traded due to their one-year rental status. Santana and fellow starter Aaron Harang are gone, as well as injured arms Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Gavin Floyd and Jonny Venters. The bullpen has, with the exception of closer Craig Kimbrel and a few others, been gutted: Carpenter, Shreve, Anthony Varvaro and Jordan Walden will pitch for other teams in 2015.
In return, the team has elected to bring back a mix of veterans and prospects. Veteran outfielder Nick Markakis was the biggest signing of the offseason (four-year deal) and he'll head to Heyward's spot in right. Fellow vets Alberto Callaspo, catcher A.J. Pierzynski and relievers Jason Grilli and Jim Johnson are expected to help fill out the active roster.
Hart added to the organization's farm system depth -- a point of emphasis from the beginning -- by trading for former top prospects Banuelos and Max Fried (lefty pitchers looking to re-gain form after Tommy John surgeries) along with Tyrell Jenkins, Jace Peterson, Dustin Peterson and Mallex Smith. The addition of another Tommy John-hampered pitcher, Daniel Winkler, through the Rule 5 Draft could also help down the line.
So where does that leave the Braves in 2015? Well, the team has locked in a talented, cost-controlled rotation with Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Mike Minor and Shelby Miller, the MLB-experienced young arm brought over from the Cardinals in the Heyward deal. That statement will be underlined if Banuelos performs well in spring training and can solidify the fifth spot in the rotation. The bullpen will likely rely on Kimbrel, the newly signed veterans and some combination of the system's top young arms.
The lineup remains the biggest question mark. Coming off a season of ineptitude, the team has not made a single offseason acquisition to significantly upgrade the offense. Barring any late moves between now and Opening Day, the overall success of the unit will likely hinge on the improvement of young players like Andrelton Simmons and Christian Bethancourt to provide some support for Freddie Freeman and Evan Gattis in the middle. There are some quality pieces, but it's a unit that will be scrutinized from Day One. Our writers delve into the litany of moves and more in our latest Chopcast: