MLB Odds: Can Atlanta Braves Be Competitive in 2017 With The Move To New Park?

Braves manager Brian Snitker

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 4:54 PM GMT

The 2017 season is a big one for the Braves franchise as it will move to the new SunTrust Park in suburban Cobb County. What kind of team can the fans expect? The Braves opened 2016 at +15000 on World Series odds and will again be long shots.

Recapping 2016 Season

Make no mistake: this past season was all about rebuilding this franchise. Really, the team's full-blown teardown began after a 79-83 record in 2014. The Braves started trading off pieces that offseason to get younger and cheaper with an eye on potentially contending with the move to the new ballpark.

Atlanta started last season an ugly 9-28 and fired Manager Fredi Gonzalez. He was never going to follow the team to SunTrust Park. Brian Snitker, the manager of Atlanta's Triple-A Gwinnett farm team, replaced Gonzalez as the Braves' interim manager through the end of the season. Snitker was also Atlanta's third-base coach from 2006 to '13.

The Braves would finish at 68-93 and decided to give Snitker the full-time job. There's no question the team improved under him as he guided the Braves to a 59-65 record. The Braves won 20 of their last 30 games under Snitker and were 37-35 after the All-Star break. The 2017 season will mark Snitker's 41st as a member of the Braves organization. The Braves also interviewed for the job coaches Eddie Perez, Terry Pendleton and Bo Porter and former big-league managers Bud Black and Ron Washington, who will become Snitker's third-base coach.

Atlanta was a terrible offensive team in 2016 in scoring just 649 runs (second-fewest to Philadelphia) and hitting 122 homers (last). But first baseman Freddie Freeman had a stellar season in leading the team with a .302 average, 34 homers, and 91 RBIs, and you could tell based on his MLB odds. Outfielder Matt Kemp was acquired around the trade deadline from San Diego and seemed rejuvenated in Atlanta in hitting .280 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs in 56 games. Other than those two, there wasn't a ton to get excited about.

The Braves' pitching staff ranked 24th with an ERA of 4.51, and the team fired pitching coach Roger McDowell, but Atlanta has a bonafide No. 1 in Julio Teheran (7-10, 3.21 ERA) and he's under a team-friendly contract for several more years. Atlanta already locked up closer Jim Johnson on a two-year deal. The 33-year-old right-hander went 2-6 with a 3.06 ERA and 20 saves in 23 chances. He had been eligible for free agency.

2016 World Series Winner Odds, Start Shopping & Comparing Them At SBR


Offseason Questions For Braves

The past two years, the franchise's lone goal was to stockpile young talent, but a potential shift really started with the Kemp trade. Braves general manager John Coppolella has said the team will be ready to spend for some quality veteran players. You hear trade rumors all the time around Freeman and his value will never be higher, but the Braves say he's staying put.

The starting outfield of Kemp, Ender Inciarte, and Nick Markakis is solid enough, although Inciarte could be traded because the Braves have youngster Mallex Smith ready to take over in the center. He showed some promising signs in 2016 before getting hurt. Shortstop Dansby Swanson, the big piece from the Shelby Miller trade, is a core player.

For sure, the Braves are going to look at upgrading behind the plate. The two names most rumored are the Yankees' Brian McCann, a former Brave, and Orioles free agent Matt Wieters, who played collegiately in Atlanta at Georgia Tech. The Braves want a veteran backstop to handle their very young and promising pitching staff and talked trade with the Yankees this summer for McCann.

While Atlanta is rich in young pitching prospects, at least one starter will be pursued as Teheran was the only Braves starter with an ERA under 4.00 and 16 different pitchers started a game for the Braves in 2016. However, the free-agent pitching market is pretty weak so a top starter might have to come via trade (Tampa's Chris Archer? White Sox's Jose Quintana?).

MLB Free Pick

This will not be a playoff team in 2017. Ideally, the Braves flirt with .500 and then really make a free-agent splash in the loaded winter class of 2018 with an eye on returning to the contention that season. It is never too early to start thinking about your baseball pick.

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