While many Atlanta Braves fans are concerned about a trade for a big bat or a trade/signing of a big bullpen arm, there’s still one piece missing.
The Atlanta Braves have done a few things every year over the last 25-30 years in their roster construction that are seemingly notorious with fans. So far this offseason, they’re missing one.
For years, the Atlanta Braves have always had a number of veteran arms on their spring training roster each season to win a job. At times, they were viewed as mentors to a young pitching staff, while at other times, their experience and rubber arm allowed for them to fill an important role eating innings in the Braves rotation.
Last season, the Atlanta Braves signed Anibal Sanchez on March 16, less than two weeks before the season began after the Minnesota Twins released him. Sanchez would go on to have a big season for the team, making 25 appearances, 24 of them starts, throwing 136 2/3 innings, with a 2.83 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.
While this was not expected, it’s not unusual. In fact, the Braves had another in camp that very well could have fit into the role that Sanchez thrived in during the 2018 season. Scott Kazmir posted a respectable 4.22 ERA in 10 2/3 spring innings, but his 7/4 BB/K ratio and struggles with consistent velocity led to the team choosing to go with Sanchez.
The role of a veteran starter at the back of the rotation and/or eating innings in the bullpen has long been a part of an Atlanta Braves roster. The 2017 team had Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey. The 2016 team employed Lucas Harrell and Bud Norris as 30+ starters and 39-year-old Jason Grilli in the bullpen. Going back a few seasons, the 2013 club saw Freddy Garcia spark the team at the end of the season to the playoffs.
Currently, the 40-man roster has just 4 pitchers over 30, and they are all short-stint relievers. Who could the team find to fill that typical roster spot?
Warning: these are not frontline starters, elite free agents, or top guys on the market. The reason the team would be pursuing them is as a bounce-back veteran arm or a cheap option. Reading this looking for a Cy Young Award winner is probably going to ruin your afternoon.