The Braves, like the rest of MLB, have the benefit of roster expansion looming Sept. 1.
MLB allows teams to carry 40 players – 15 more than the usual 25-man mandate – through the final month of the regular season. Minor league teams finish their seasons in early September (Sept. 3, in the Braves’ case).
Teams typically will add a few players Sept. 1 and gradually increase the amount, though they aren’t required to fill all the supplementary spots.
As for postseason rosters, the Braves could choose only from players they carried on their 40-man before Sept. 1. So if the Braves promoted a player who wasn’t on the 40-man after that date, he wouldn’t be eligible for the postseason roster.
Now that the groundwork is out of the way, let’s look specifically at the Braves’ situation. The team has yet to discuss how they’ll go about the final month, but manager Brian Snitker expects to have those talks on the next road trip.
“Not specifically yet,” Snitker said. “I’m sure we will in the near future. We’ve already seen everybody, I imagine, coming up. We’ll add a catcher, obviously. I haven’t talked to (general manager) Alex (Anthopoulos) about his philosophy on that, or where he likes to go with it. There are some interesting options. There are some more young guys down there getting everybody’s attention that could possibly come up and fill some spots also.”
The obvious candidates include Max Fried, Shane Carle, Peter Moylan and Sam Freeman. Fried is making a rehab start Friday as he recovers from a groin injury. He would present a spot-start option, potential innings out of the bullpen and/or a routine sixth starter, if the Braves decide to go that direction.
Moylan won’t return until after rosters expand, Snitker confirmed Tuesday. Freeman could return beforehand. The lefty is set to throw two innings Sunday and could be ready to rejoin the roster afterward. Carle likely will join the team in September.
Touki Toussaint is on the 40-man after making his first start Tuesday. He’s eligible to return Aug. 23. Like Fried, he provides a few options, including stretching out the rotation. He also could be used as a pinch-runner, Snitker’s indicated.
Familiar faces Luiz Gohara, Adam McCreery and Wes Parsons could add length to the bullpen. Gohara is still sidelined with shoulder soreness, but the other two recently had a cup of coffee in the majors. Brandon McCarthy threw off the mound Tuesday and could return in one- or two-inning spurts, though that’s far from a certainty.
Chad Bell also is on the 40-man, as is Chase Whitley. Whitley hasn’t pitched for the Braves since April 27, and Bell hasn’t appeared this season. But adding more reliever depth is only a good thing as the team tries to manage its innings for a possible postseason run.
The Braves are certain to bring up a third catcher and additional runner or two. Backstop Chris Stewart, who played sparingly for the big-league club earlier in the season, probably will be promoted. Lane Adams, who rejoined the Braves at Triple-A Gwinnett after a brief stint in the Cubs organization, isn’t on the 40-man, but would be their best option as a base runner.
Swiss Army knife Danny Santana could find his way to the majors again. Dustin Peterson and Michael Reed are extra outfield options, though neither offers Santana’s versatility or Adams’ resume of speed and pinch-hitting.
The Braves won’t use all 40 spots in all likelihood, but the choices available represent the best organization depth they’ve had in years. That could hold a meaningful impact given their difficult September slate as they pursue the National League East title.
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