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Kevin Pillar attempts to kill the ‘poor defense’ narrative around Braves’ star Ronald Acuna Jr: “I don’t see anything wrong with his game”.

Kevin Pillar attempts to kill the 'poor defense' narrative around Braves' star  Ronald Acuna Jr: "I don't see anything wrong with his game"

Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. has twice led the league in stolen bases, won three Silver Slugger Awards and been selected to four MLB All-Star teams. Despite being a strong right-handed hitter with a broad range, Acuna’s defense is often criticized.

Acuna has a strong offensive game but is in the lowest five percent of players in terms of Outs Above Average. Although he is regarded as league average in defensive runs saved, skeptics think his poor defensive play is a result of his limited range and incapacity to judge balls in the outfield.

Speaking on “Foul Territory,” free agent Kevin Pillar defended Acuna:

Acuna, a formidable force at the top of the Braves order, easily became the first player to join the 40-70 club by combining an NL-leading 73 stolen bases with 41 home runs.

Read More: What are the Winter Meetings and what deals could the Braves get done there?

Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos

It’s a well-known fact that Atlanta Braves have one of the best front offices in baseball. Their savviness is what’s allowed them to lock up almost the entirety of their always-playoff-bound core for years to come, while also developing some incredibly promising young talent, especially when it comes to pitching. The Winter Meetings present an opportunity for Braves management to solidify their good reputation even further by making a few strategic moves to get themselves back into the postseason in 2024. Here are the basics of the Braves’ trip to the Winter Meetings this year.

What are the Winter Meetings?

Every year, all 30 MLB teams come together to negotiate trades, sign free agents, and clarify the look of their rosters in light of the new season at the Winter Meetings. This four-day conference is the highlight and usually climax of every offseason; last year, the Braves had a quiet few days while activity swirled around them. The meetings are by no means the deadline for trade or free agent activity; one of the Braves biggest loses of the offseason, Dansby Swanson’s departure to the Cubs, took place a few weeks later. Going into the meetings in 2023, though, the Braves should be hoping to make more of a splash. This year, Winter Meetings will be held from Dec. 3 – 6 in Nashville, TN.

What could the Braves do at Winter Meetings?

The Braves are one of the newest teams to be linked to Shohei Ohtani’s free agency, but that list grows everyday, and there’s chatter that Ohtani might sign with a team ahead of Winter Meetings. Even if he doesn’t, the Braves’ attention would be better spent elsewhere, particularly with its pitching staff. Spencer Strider and Max Fried are locks in the starting rotation, Charlie Morton might get a few starts here and there, and there’s a pretty large selection of young, homegrown talent who could occupy a couple more of the regular rotation spots, but it’s still in need of a veteran presence. Blake Snell and Aaron Nola are two of the most senior, high-profile free agents, but a possible Tyler Glasnow trade could also be something that the Braves gun for with Tampa Bay.

Rule 5 draft

The Rule 5 draft, made up of minor leaguers with 4-5 years of service time, also takes place during the Winter Meetings. Only teams without a full 40-man roster participate; as of writing, the Braves’ 40-man roster is full, and they did not decide to protect any of their vulnerable prospects ahead of the draft. Unless they make a few more adjustments (i.e. non-tendering players), they will not take part in the draft.

MLB Draft lottery

The second MLB Draft lottery, wherein the 18 non-playoff teams will draw to determine draft order in 2024, will also take place during Winter Meetings. Of course, the Braves did go to the playoffs, so their 26th position is predetermined.

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