The defending World Series Champions Atlanta Braves faced the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS this season. The Braves were the heavy favorites entering the postseason, but the Phillies dealt a massive upset to the defending champs, which surprised many baseball fans. The youngsters of Atlanta seemed to crumble under pressure, especially when the raucous Philadelphia crowd was present at Citizen Banks Park.
Even if the Braves are stacked with guys like Ronald Acuña Jr., Austin Riley, and Matt Olson, some of their weaknesses like starting pitching were exposed in the Phillies series. The performances of others dwindled, while the stars of Philadelphia stepped up to the plate and took advantage of the opportunity. With the leverage of a large market as well, these are a couple of names Atlanta will be interested in entering the 2023 free agency.
The San Francisco Giants were in talks to strike a deal for Carlos Rodon before the trade deadline because of the possibility of him leaving in free agency. That will likely be the case as Rodon will be a hot commodity as soon as free agents are eligible to be signed. Atlanta already has one of the most stacked pitching rotations in the league, but it was evident that the Phillies tacked on a ton of runs against this staff in their series.
Having a lefty to supplement Max Fried, along with righties Spencer Strider and Kyle Wright will be excellent starting next season. The farm system of the Braves is incredible as well, so they have prospects like Freddy Tarnok and Dylan Dodd who are waiting under the wings. Injuries are inevitable in a 162-game season, along with the myriad of pitchers necessary in a playoff series, Carlos Rodon will be one who will be an immense boost to the squad.
Coincidentally another player from the Giants, Joc Pederson will be an asset who was crucial in the 2021 World Series run of the Braves. Fans are clamoring for him to return because of his tremendous contributions in that run, along with his intriguing personality that gains the love of Atlanta fans. The outfielders of the squad underperformed this season so having Pederson back in the fold gives them another legitimate option at that position.
Eddie Rosario, Robbie Grossman, and Marcell Ozuna were the rotation at LF so pairing Joc Pederson with Michael Harris II and Ronald Acuña Jr. will be one of the best outfields in the MLB. Having Pederson in the lineup is another guy who has the courage and determination at the highest level as he will not wilt under pressure compared to younger guys on the squad.
This free agency class has deep options at the shortstop position. Dansby Swanson has been an instrumental piece to the progress and development of the Braves organization, but anyone would know that Carlos Correa is vastly more talented offensively than Swanson. Correa was crucial to the deep postseason runs of the Houston Astros, so he has proven to flourish at the highest stage.
Even if Correa signed a contract with the Minnesota Twins, and he will likely leave in the offseason, he galvanized the young troops and put them in contention until the latter juncture of the season. Carlos Correa brings a certain dimension and all-around prowess that Swanson does not bring to the table. If Swanson does not decide to return, Atlanta must be ready with a contingency plan that might actually just make their team stronger than this season.