Are the Atlanta Braves ready to contend, now in the 4th year of their rebuild? I’m thinking not. The more I read and from what I’ve seen so far in spring training, they don’t seem to be there.
Consider this from Atlanta Braves roster: Preview for 2018, outlook for 2019 – Talking Chop
The 2018 season is shaping up as a pivotal one for the Atlanta Braves who are entering the fourth year of their rebuild. Much of that focus of that rebuild has centered on reviving a barren minor league system and transforming it into one of the best in baseball. With some of that top talent pushing its way towards the major league level, 2018 is year of evaluation where the team must figure out which prospects will make up its core with a hopeful return to contention.
That is the task facing new general manager Alex Anthopoulos who was brought on to replace John Coppolella following an embarrassing investigation by major league baseball into transgressions on the international free agent market. That investigation resulted in Coppolella receiving a lifetime ban and the loss of 13 prospects along with other sanctions. It was one of the darkest moments of this franchise and one they hope to distance themselves from quickly.
Anthopoulos arrived shortly before the winter meetings and has taken an otherwise patient approach to the offseason. His biggest move to date was unloading Matt Kemp to the Dodgers in a five-player trade that brought veteran pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir to Atlanta along with utility man Charlie Culberson. The Braves accomplished two things with the move. One, it freed up a corner outfield spot for top prospect Ronald Acuna who is slated to arrive at some point in 2018. It also helped clear the deck from a salary perspective which allow Atlanta to potentially make a splash in free agency in 2019.
This year’s team figures to be a younger group and their could be more youth on the way. Ozzie Albies arrived late last season and was impressive in his debut. He is entering his first full season as the team’s full time second baseman. Acuna is slated to arrive sometime after opening day but should be a fixture in the team’s outfield upon his arrival.