What’s the best Braves bench with their current options?

Atlanta Braves third baseman Jake Lamb fields a grounder with Pablo Sandoval looking on during the first full squad workout Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla. Lamb signed a $1 million non-guaranteed, major-league deal for the 2021 season. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Atlanta Braves third baseman Jake Lamb fields a grounder with Pablo Sandoval looking on during the first full squad workout Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla. Lamb signed a $1 million non-guaranteed, major-league deal for the 2021 season. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

The Braves have three more weeks until opening day, giving them plenty of time to further evaluate the individuals competing for spots on their bench. The team is almost completely remaking that unit from a season ago after letting Adam Duvall, Nick Markakis and Tyler Flowers leave in free agency (the latter two are unsigned).

It’s a fluid situation. The bench’s first iteration won’t be its last. It’s entirely possible the Braves’ bench is completely different in September. Such is the nature of the sport. In this instance, the Braves are going to keep trying players until somebody sticks. They’ve added multiple experienced players in hopes that at least one rejuvenates his career.

“It’s a good group,” manager Brian Snitker said of the bench candidates. “All the guys we’ve brought in are guys who have had success in the major leagues. That’s exactly what you’re looking for in these roles. It’s kind of new roles in their career. It serves them well to have had that experience, being every-day players. I think it’s a pretty good group that we’ll evaluate and choose from.”

So, given what the Braves currently have — and that can and probably will change by opening day April 1 — what’s the best bench group they can assemble to start the season?

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Atlanta Braves catcher William Contreras hits a two-run single to take give Atlanta a 4-1 lead over the Boston Red Sox in the third inning Monday, March 1, 2021, at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Atlanta Braves catcher William Contreras hits a two-run single to take give Atlanta a 4-1 lead over the Boston Red Sox in the third inning Monday, March 1, 2021, at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Atlanta Braves catcher William Contreras hits a two-run single to take give Atlanta a 4-1 lead over the Boston Red Sox in the third inning Monday, March 1, 2021, at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Starting with the obvious, William Contreras or Alex Jackson will fill the backup catcher spot. The team believes in Jackson’s receiving ability, and he provides theoretical power, which matters considering how little of it this bench projects to possess. Contreras possesses more athletic ability and potential. Neither player has separated himself this spring, so this will be an ongoing evaluation.

Ender Inciarte, barring an unexpected transaction, will be the fourth outfielder. The Braves haven’t named Cristian Pache their starting center fielder, but that almost certainly will be the case. Inciarte, owed $8 million this season, would become an expensive backup. He told reporters last week he’ll be a supportive teammate regardless of what decision the team makes.

“I’m just trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get,” Inciarte said. “I know the team is going to put the best team out there, whether it’s me or someone else. I’m just going to be ready to play any day.”

A situation to monitor: Inciarte hasn’t played in a week because of a “thumb issue,” Snitker said Thursday. “It’s been a slow process to get him treated up and get the bat in his hand again. He’s progressing, but he’s not to the point he can go out and get a game at-bat right now, so we’ll have to see.”

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Braves infielder Johan Camargo shows his form hitting the sliding mat during team drills at spring training Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Braves infielder Johan Camargo shows his form hitting the sliding mat during team drills at spring training Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Braves infielder Johan Camargo shows his form hitting the sliding mat during team drills at spring training Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Utilityman Johan Camargo is on a non-guaranteed deal. He’s still likely to make the opening-day roster as a versatile backup. It would help his case if he shows he can handle shortstop, being that the Braves don’t have many other options there. Camargo also can play second base, third base and even outfield in a pinch.

If that’s how three bench roles shake out, as expected, that’d leave two more openings for the bevy of veterans vying for jobs. Jake Lamb, signed to a non-guaranteed major-league contract earlier this spring, should be considered a front-runner. He can play the corner infield positions while also providing more power than any of the Braves’ other options.

Lamb, who was an All-Star in 2017, would be a valuable left-handed power hitter off the bench. Since hitting 59 homers across the 2016-17 seasons, Lamb’s career has been spoiled by injuries. He showed signs of life late last season in 13 games with the A’s, launching nine homers in just 45 at-bats.

“That time in Oakland helped me,” Lamb said, referencing his career and free-agent market. “It gave me a few options. I wanted to go somewhere where I can play, but I also wanted to go to a winning team. Watching this team on TV, and watching them from afar, it’s no joke. They have what it takes to get to World Series and hopefully win a World Series. From position players to pitching staff to leaders in the clubhouse, they have everything over here.

“If I can come in and just be a guy, whether it’s off the bench, platoon somewhere, I’m here to help out, be a good teammate, help some young guys. Bottom line is I want to win, and we’re going to win some games here.”

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Braves' Ehire Adrianza hits a standup RBI-double against the Minnesota Twins to take a 3-0 lead during the third inning Tuesday, March 2, 2021, at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Braves' Ehire Adrianza hits a standup RBI-double against the Minnesota Twins to take a 3-0 lead during the third inning Tuesday, March 2, 2021, at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Braves' Ehire Adrianza hits a standup RBI-double against the Minnesota Twins to take a 3-0 lead during the third inning Tuesday, March 2, 2021, at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

The final opening is up for grabs. It could go to a player who’s not yet on the roster. Remember: The Braves acquired Matt Joyce just before opening day in 2019, and the outfielder played a pivotal role throughout the season. Under general manager Alex Anthopoulos, the team has done an excellent job identifying and extracting the best from low-cost contributors.

Other competitors include former All-Star Jason Kipnis, who hasn’t done much thus far this spring, and switch-hitter Pablo Sandoval, whose roster bid was hurt by the Lamb acquisition. Ehire Adrianza can play around the infield and would give the Braves a better defensive option at shortstop than Camargo, so he’ll have a case. Outfielders Abraham Almonte, Phillip Ervin and Guillermo Heredia, all on the 40-man roster, are solid depth players but likely won’t make the Braves’ initial roster.

It is possible, because of off days, that the Braves begin the season with a four-man rotation if Mike Soroka opens the season on the injured list. They could carry an additional bench bat in that scenario, but for now, we’ve operated on the assumption that they’ll use five starters.

Snitker has repeatedly stated confidence in the team’s options, citing their experience. The Braves undoubtedly have an interesting group of players from which to choose, but they could easily add another name or two to the list before opening day.

For now, their best bench looks something like Jackson/Contreras, Camargo, Inciarte, Lamb and another player. Adrianza might make the most sense, though that bench would lack juice at the plate. Ultimately, if the team’s mix-and-match approach doesn’t yield results over the first portion of the season, expect the Braves to be seeking bench help at the trade deadline.

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