The Atlanta Braves are cleaning house. They pulled off possibly the most lopsided trade this offseason when they shipped Shelby Miller to Arizona for Ender Inciarte, former #1 overall pick Dansby Swanson and pitching prospect Aaron Blair. If they can pull off a few more trades like that, their rebuilding time will be shortened.
2016 will not be kind to the Braves. Their team is filled with underwhelming bats and many wild, young arms.
Fredi Gonzalez is still Atlanta’s skipper, but his seat is the hottest in the Majors. He won’t last until the All-Star Break.
Here is the 2016 MLB season preview for the Atlanta Braves.
2015 Win/Loss Record: 67-95
Key Additions: OF Ender Inciarte, SS Erick Aybar, 2B Gordon Beckham, 2B Emilio Bonifacio, RP Ian Krol, C Tyler Flowers, OF Jeff Francoeur, SP Kyle Kendrick, C Ryan Lavarnway & RP Alexi Ogando
Key Losses: SS Andrelton Simmons, SP Shelby Miller, OF Cameron Maybin, SS Pedro Ciriaco, RP David Aardsma, RP Andrew McKirahan, SP Edwin Jackson, RP Peter Moylan & SP Eric Stults
Interleague Schedule: AL Central
Projected Starters: A.J. Pierzynski, Freddie Freeman, Jace Peterson, Adonis Garcis, Erick Aybar, Michael Bourn, Ender Inciarte & Nick Markakis
Projected Starting Rotation: Julio Teheran, Matt Wisler, Manny Banuelos, Bud Norris & Williams Perez
Closer: Jason Grilli
Fantasy Sleeper: RP Arodys Vizcaino – If you’re looking for fantasy sleepers, the Braves are slim pickings. Most of their hitters are either over-the-hill or failed former prospects. You won’t find any sleepers in their starting rotation, since the Braves will not be a good source for wins. Saves will also be few and far between, but Arodys Vizcaino should have a decent ERA and could supplant Jason Grilli as the closer at some point.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: SS Dansby Swanson – The 19-year-old is playing in Spring Training for the Braves this season. He only played in low-A ball last season in the Diamondbacks farm system. He was the #1 overall draft pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. The draft wasn’t very deep, but most scouts thought Swanson was the best player. The Braves traded Andrelton Simmons away and needed a shortstop of the future. I’d be surprised if he played in the Majors this year, but the Braves could see what he can do in September.
Team Analysis: The Braves were quite active this offseason. They traded away Andrelton Simmons and Shelby Miller for huge returns. Although I do feel like they left more on the table in the Simmons trade. I just feel they could have received a better package from a team that is more SABR-friendly.
The Braves are in the beginning stages of a full rebuild. I believe there is at least one more piece they could move, Freddie Freeman. They’ve been consistent in the press stating that Freeman is in their future plans. If they are truly rebuilding, they need to move him. They could get an impressive return. The Shelby Miller trade showed everyone that Atlanta can pull off miracles.
The Braves are currently filled with young arms, long-in-the-tooth bats and failed former top prospects. They will have a hard time treading water in the NL East. It will be a race to the bottom between the Braves and Phillies.
2016 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 67.5 (Prediction: UNDER)
2016 Projected Win/Loss Record: 64-98 (4th in NL East)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.