And down the stretch they come.
Since last we visited the Braves 40-man roster things have gotten a little crazy. Hell, since I started working on this month’s rankings things have continued to be completely nutso, as the Braves were making moves right up until and during Sunday’s game against the Pirates.
The deadline for players to be postseason eligible came an went at midnight on August 31, so players within the organization at that point would be eligible in October. As of right now, the only name listed below that would be exempt from that list is Preston Tucker, who rejoined the team Sunday afternoon after the Reds sent him back to the Braves for the well-traveled veteran Cash Considerations.
LOCKS (12 – 11 Occupying Spots)
Mike Soroka (60-Day DL)
Four huge additions looking forward to 2019 here, folks.
Ok, one key addition and three huge additions.
There was a lot of backlash amongst certain corners of Braves Nation™ for locking up Flowers before he hit the free agent market again this winter, but while he has struggled against RHP at the plate this season there is no denying his value to a young pitching staff. It remains to be seen whether T-Flow will serve as the team’s primary catcher next year or if he will be the backup to some big offseason acquisition, but right now we know he’s going to be around for a little bit longer.
Toussaint, Wilson, and Wright are the big ones. We don’t know what their position with the team will be next year, or even if they will start 2019 on the big league roster, but they’re on the 40-man now and it’s very close to go-time for the new young guns. Touki looks to be the most likely to be guaranteed a spot in the 2019 rotation right away, but Wright shouldn’t be too far behind as he proved he has very little left to prove in the Minors. Wilson is the biggest wildcard of the trio since he pitched at four levels this year, but he’s also likely to break through at some point next year.
PROBABLES (5 – 4 Occupying Spots)
Darren O’Day (60-Day DL)
With a lot of arms moving around over the past month we started to get a much better idea of where the organization views a lot of key assets and who may be expendable. Thanks to that, there were a few names dumped from the PROBABLES section from last month, and a couple additions to balance them out.
Out were some of the injured names, which we’ll talk about a little later.
In were a couple younger arms.
Allard is the main one here. He was in the LOCKS group last month, but with the addition of Touki, Wright, and Wilson to the 40-man, suddenly Allard found himself dropping a few rungs after his strikeout rate continued to disappear and some very underwhelming appearances after his initial call-up. I don’t think he’s likely to go anywhere and should get at least as many chances as guys like Matt Wisler or Lucas Sims, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Anthopolous used him to bolster a trade package this winter.
The other new one slotting in here is Chad Sobotka. I think he will likely have an inside shot to be a part of the 2019 bullpen, he’s also one of a huge number of arms right on the cusp of breaking through right now. Like with Allard, I don’t necessarily think he’s going to go anywhere, and he could end up being org depth at AAA if guys end up passing him by, but when you have 8,000 arms there gets to be a lot of expendabilities.
FREE AGENTS (10 – 8 Occupying Spots)
Brandon McCarthy (60-Day DL)
Peter Moylan (60-Day DL)
The big names here are your waiver deadline additions in Duda and Rivera. No real reason to expect either to stick around once the season wraps up.
While neither will be on the team next year, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if McCarthy and Moylan didn’t somehow both end up as a part of the organization in one form or another.
NON-TENDER CANDIDATES (6 – 4 Occupying Spots)
Grant Dayton (60-Day DL)
Jose Ramirez (60-Day DL)
Last month I had this grouping as the players who were arbitration eligible, but I decided to switch it up a bit and rename it the non-tender candidates.
Adams has been in and out of the organization, as has Luke Jackson, so if AA is looking at some easy guys to let go in order to open up roster spots there’s no better choice than a couple guys who have already been bounced around multiple times.
With Dayton and Ramirez, they kind of fall into an area I was talking about above with Allard and Sobotka. There are a lot of arms floating around, and it seems like we may just be past the Wren and Coppy eras of signing any broken goods and hoping to get something in return in the ensuing years.
Freeman and Duvall are a whole different ballgame. Let’s be real here, both have been hot garbage with the Braves this year. With Freeman, there isn’t a lot of reason to expect anything different from him. But with Duvall, he is a guy with a nice pedigree behind him and could still prove to be a huge part of the Braves going forward. The question with him is going to be whether or not the org has a reason to believe the past month has been a fluke, or if there is some reason to believe his best days were left in Cincinnati.
POTENTIAL TRADE PIECES (10 – 9 Occupying Spots)
Arodys Vizcaino (60-Day DL)
The reason I added Culberson to the potential trade pieces list is because there will likely never be a stronger “sell high” candidate than 2018 Charlie Culberson. It has been one hell of a ride, but every single peripheral points towards Culberson riding high off a ridiculous amount of luck. None of us want it to end, and I would hate to lose a guy with Culberson’s versatility, but there may be a GM out there who is willing to greatly overpay for a guy who can play a lot of positions well and may be putting something together offensively.
Gausman/Newcomb are more of an either/or here. Gausman has been absolutely lights out since coming to Baltimore South, while Newcomb has hit the wall hard over the past couple of months. I honestly don’t think either will be dealt this winter, but the recurring theme here is pitching depth and the arms that are on the way, and there may be no better time to sell on a couple of potentially mediocre arms than this winter. The flipside is Newk is still working out some growing pains, and Gaus may be able to flourish away from the deathly hand of the Orioles org, so holding onto a couple solid #3s could be a huge part of next year’s success.
OUTRIGHTS & UNKNOWNS (6 – 4 Occupying Spots)
Jacob Lindgren (60-Day DL)
Michael Reed (60-Day DL)
And then there are the question marks. With a lot of names dropping off via free agency and no real big names looming for Rule 5 protection, there’s not going to be a huge roster crunch when it comes to needing 40-man spots opened up. There are currently 49 players under ML contract when you include guys on the 60-day DL. With nine guys heading out via free agency that will leave the team right at 40. Really, it all depends on just how the front office decides to approach additions for 2019. If they decide to go the trade route then having plenty of wiggle room to take on as many pieces as possible could be huge. There’s a roster crunch looming when guys need to be activated, but we’ll dig deeper into that in our October edition.
Regardless, as we just saw with Dustin Peterson, there is starting to be a line drawn in the sand about who is or isn’t a part of this team’s future going forward. Peterson could very easily end up safely outrighted back to Gwinnett, but he’s likely always going to be org filler with whatever club he ends up with. And the same holds true for all of the guys listed above. There’s no one crucial to any short-term or long-term plans, and in the case of most, they’ve already been bounced around a couple different teams anyway.
This will be the last 40-man ranking of the regular season, so hopefully when we converge again we will be gearing up for an actual playoff series.
Here’s to a fun September.