After winning the World Series in 2021, the Braves have some high expectations to live up to this year. With a slow start to the season, Atlanta picked up steam around the trade deadline and rode it all the way through October. The Braves have had a fantastic offseason without losing many key pieces, and have brought in many pieces to bolster the roster. For the second year in a row, Brian Snitker and the Braves should be aiming for the stars in 2022.
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Matt Olson, First Baseman, (Acquired from Athletics)
With Freddie Freeman walking out the door, the Braves knew they needed another powerhouse at first. Olson fits that mold perfectly. In exchange, the Braves sent Cristian Pache and three prospects over to Oakland. In 2021, Olson slashed .271/.371/.540. He hit 39 homers and drove in 111 runs. Even though Atlanta had to give up a heavy load to acquire the lefty slugger, Olson’s gold glove and big bat make him worth it.
Kenley Jansen, Relief Pitcher, One Year/ $16 Million
After 11 years with the Dodgers, Jansen signed with the Braves. The three-time All-Star was still dominant in 2021, even without his best stuff. The righty has a three pitch arsenal. He primarily throws his cutter, while complementing it with a sinker and slider. Bolstering a strength is always important on a roster, and with the Braves singing Jansen, that’s exactly what they did.
Eddie Rosario, Outfielder, Two Years/$18 Million
The Braves picked up Rosario at the trade deadline last season. After being an integral part of their World Series run, Rosario signed a multi-year contract with Atlanta. With Ronald Acuna Jr. being injured to start the season, it was important that the Braves had depth in their outfield. This signing accomplishes that. After being traded to Atlanta last season, Rosario had a .903 OPS. Although he is not a flashy signing, he will be a big part of the Braves’ success in the upcoming years.
Freddie Freeman, First Baseman, Dodgers
There isn’t much that can describe what Freeman has meant to the Braves (and their community) for the past 12 years. The 2020 MVP had been loved by everyone in Atlanta since he was called up, and reasonably so. Freeman has a career .893 OPS, and .957 OPS over the last four seasons. He has been the face of the Braves for years, and seeing him not dressed up in navy and red is going to be strange.
Jorge Soler, Outfielder, Marlins
Soler was acquired by the team near the trade deadline last season. There is no doubt he was a key piece in Atlanta’s success. He got hot in October and was the World Series MVP. Soler was able to bring new energy to Atlanta’s revamped outfield after Acuna and Marcell Ozuna went down. Although not a consistent game-changer, Atlanta lost a very good ballplayer.
The Braves have the pieces to make another deep run in the playoffs. Their infield is one of the best in the league, consisting of Olson and names like Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, and Austin Riley. Each of those players has a chance to hit over thirty home runs and drive in 100+ runs. Their outfield is also special. When Acuna comes back, the Braves could have the best lineup in baseball.
On the other side of the ball, the pitching is also loaded. Atlanta’s rotation is headlined by Max Fried, Charlie Morton, and Ian Anderson. That top three can compete against any other in the league, and have a strong chance of coming out victorious. The bullpen does not disappoint, either. The depth and skill of the relievers is one of Atlanta’s biggest strengths.
After winning rings in 2021, the Braves’ expectation should be making it back to the World Series. In such a competitive division it will be tough, but Atlanta’s lineup and pitching have the opportunity to have a special season. Whether they win the division or get in through the wild card, making a run in October should be a must for the Braves.
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