3 massive Braves offseason risks that could come back to haunt them

The Atlanta Braves offseason wasn't a bad one by any means, but some of the players they rely on are flight risks.

Braves Fest
Braves Fest / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
1 of 3
Next

The Atlanta Braves offseason went according to plan, as Alex Anthopoulos kept the majority of their offensive core around while upgrading the starting rotation, bullpen and outfield depth. If Anthopoulos had a check list filled out by Braves fans prior to making any moves this winter, it would have included all three of those positions.

Atlanta didn't have much money to play with, which is why many of the moves they did make came via trade. The Braves upgraded their bullpen by trading for Aaron Bummer. They added a rotation arm in Chris Sale, also acquired via trade from the Boston Red Sox. Their new left fielder, former top prospect Jarred Kelenic, was sent to Atlanta in a deal with the Seattle Mariners.

As impressive as these trades may be on the surface, they also bring with them quite a bit of risk. Said players wouldn't be available for relatively cheap if they offered guaranteed production.

3. Braves took an unnecessary risk with Jarred Kelenic

The Braves trade for Kelenic came cheap, so it's not like Anthopoulos gave up anything of substance for him. However, what Anthopoulos did do was punt on any internal solution, including Vaughn Grissom, Eddie Rosario and more. Rosario left via free agency, while Grissom was traded to the Red Sox for Sale.

Should Kelenic fall flat on his face as he often did in Seattle, then the Braves are right back where they started with few options behind him. Kelenic is a former top prospect in the Mariners system who couldn't live up to the hype. The reasons for that remain a mystery. In 2023, Kelenic started hot before slumping and eventually breaking his foot in humiliating fashion. That was the last straw for him in the Emerald City, as David O'Brien explains:

"The Braves believe not having the pressure to carry a heavy load in a stacked Braves lineup could help him relax and realize his full potential. In 2023, Kelenic hit .297 with 10 homers and a .914 OPS in his first 45 games before slumping and breaking his foot kicking a dugout cooler in frustration," O'Brien wrote in The Athletic.

Perhaps the biggest mistake the Braves made with Kelenic is handing him the job outright in spring training. At the very least, Kelenic should have to show some consistent growth to get the job over Luke Williams, Forrest Wall and more. A lack of competition at the position will make Kelenic too comfortable, a feat he has yet to earn in the big leagues.