The Atlanta Braves Announce Their Opening Day Roster

The 2017 roster also features the largest Opening Day payroll in Braves history

Atlanta Brave Freddie Freeman  could be a 2017 MVP candidate. (Photo Credit: Butch Dill/AP)

On Sunday, the Atlanta Braves finalized their Opening Day 25-man roster for the 2017 season. After spending much of the spring considering opening the season with an eight man bullpen and a four man bench, the Braves decided to carry a more traditional seven man bullpen with five bench players.

The glaring surprise to most Atlanta Braves fans is the decision to carry three catchers. Anthony Recker makes the team as the final bench player, after being expected to play at AAA Gwinnett. Carrying a third catcher gives Atlanta manager Brian Snitker an extra PH option, as both Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki would probably be the best PH option off the bench on days they aren’t catching.

In the outfield, the Braves opted to carry four OF. Emilio Bonifacio will serve as the primary backup to starters Matt Kemp, Ender Inciarte, and Nick Markakis. Bonifacio made the club on the strength of a solid spring (.361 OBP) and his experience playing two of the three OF spots. His presence allows the Braves to continue developing budding young stars like Dustin Peterson (currently injured) without slowing their development. Bonifacio has also been praised by the Braves in the past for his clubhouse presence.

The starting position players were no surprise. Freddie Freeman, Brandon Phillips, Dansby Swanson, and Adonis Garcia all won their respective starting positions. Chase d’Arnaud and Jace Peterson will serve as the utility infielders. Both D’Arnaud and Peterson have a great deal of positional flexibility that will allow Snitker to better play matchups and make late inning moves. The bench is certainly lacking an option with power, and the Braves are said to still be considering whether to make other early season moves to shore up any weaknesses. Despite the youth movement in the Atlanta Braves’ rebuild, Swanson is the only rookie to make the team.

The starting rotation of Julio Teheran, Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, Jaime Garcia, and Mike Foltynewicz was decided relatively early in spring. New arrivals Colon and Dickey are expected to provide a steady supply of innings to help reduce some pressure on a bullpen that was largely over-worked last season. While both Colon and Dickey have probably seen better days, the quantity of the innings they provide is likely more important to the Braves than the quality of innings. Certainly, the Braves would love to see high level performances from all of their starters, but Colon and Dickey were both brought in for their ability to throw a high number of innings, and the Braves expect that to continue.

Bartolo Colon starts for the Braves in their first 2017 spring training game. (Photo: Atlanta Braves via Twitter)

In the bullpen, Jim Johnson will serve as the closer, being set up by Arodys Vizcaino and Ian Krol. Old Braves fan favorite Eric O’Flaherty makes the team as the lefty specialist after a series of disappointing and injury plagued years. O’Flaherty posted a Spring ERA of 2.19 (0.00 vs LHB) with a BAA of .205 (.143 vs LHB). In a slight word of caution, those numbers came in small sample sizes, as he only pitched 4.0 innings vs LHB this spring.  Jose Ramirez and Chaz Roe receive the last two middle relief spots. Josh Collmenter will serve as the long reliever and spot starter.

The Braves also announced that pitchers Mauricio Cabrera, Armando Rivero, and Daniel Winkler will all start the season on the 10-day DL. Infielder Micah Johnson will also start the season on the 10-day DL. IF/OF Sean Rodriguez and P Jacob Lindgren were already on the 60-day DL.

What do YOU think of the roster? Let us know in the comments below, on Twitter at @OFRSports, or on Facebook.

About Chris Jervis 74 Articles

Chris Jervis is an accountant in the Atlanta area. He’s long had an interest in baseball, and, being a numbers nerd, loves analyzing player performances. He also likes to argue and is kind of an ass.

2 Comments

  1. I can definitely understand going with three catchers. I really hate having to go with D’Arnaud over Rio Ruiz. Rio is a better PH option and I do not think that D’arnaud is all that much better than Jace at SS to justify his spot on the roster. I’d of much rather had Rio or Camargo get a chance to show what they can do. We already know what Chase is and it’s not that good.

    • True. I can understand three catchers, given the options they had to work with. Adding Recker means that Flowers and Suzuki can be viable PH options off the bench, instead of the last option for fear of burning your backup catcher.

      I believe the team wants to give Ruiz regular PAs, and they want him to see more experience and improvement against LHP. The team is said to be really high on his new athletic frame and his new work ethic, and I think they want to reward that with a mid-season callup as a regular player (my speculation). Chase D’Arnaud is what he is, which is a versatile fielder who plays several positions competently, but he’s not a very viable bench option. I wouldn’t mind Chase D’Arnaud OR Jace Peterson OR Emilio Bonifacio, but all three seems like overkill. It’s three of the same player.

      Thanks for reading, by the way! Keep checking back in!

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