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5 contract option decisions that the Atlanta Braves will need to make very soon

The clock is now ticking for the Braves to make some key decisions regarding next season’s roster.

As of now, it is officially the 2023 MLB offseason. The Texas Rangers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks last night to capture their first World Series championship, and now the offseason festivities can officially begin.

Unfortunately, for the Atlanta Braves, the offseason has been in place for a couple weeks now. They have already taken the liberty of making an important bullpen signing, just a week ago. However, with the baseball season officially over, the Braves are faced with some important decisions with a quick approaching deadline.

We have talked here on this site about the Braves five contract option decisions they had to make within five days of the baseball season ending. Now that those five days are on the clock let’s take a look at what we think the Braves will do with each player.

Charlie Morton – $20 million club option (no buyout)

Sep 22, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Charlie Morton

We have talked ad nauseum about Charlie Morton’s option for the 2024 season. His option is the largest in dollars, but the price of starting pitching is high in this league. The first question we need answered is if Morton wants to continue pitching at all. Charlie will be 40 years-old soon and certainly aware that his time playing baseball may be complete.

If he does want to continue pitching I’m sure the Braves would love to bring him back, although perhaps not at that $20 million figure. Should Atlanta decline this option, or Morton retire, the rotation would consist of Fried (in his last year before free agency), Strider, and Elder as the only locks.

Given how difficult it is to find viable pitching my guess is the Braves quickly pick up Morton’s option should he want to continue pitching. Let’s hope he does, so we can get one more season of Charlie Morton buzz saw curveballs like the one below.

Brad Hand – $7 million mutual option (500K buyout)


Sep 12, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Brad Hand (45) throws a

There probably isn’t much to write about on this decision. Out of the five the Braves have to make, this might be the quickest decision made. It’s not that I don’t think the Braves value Brad Hand, he was on the NLDS roster after all, it’s just I don’t think they value him at $7 million.

Hand has had a solid career to this point, and did a fairly decent job neutralizing lefties once the Braves acquired him at last year’s trade deadline, but that type of financial commitment doesn’t make sense for Atlanta. However, don’t be surprised if Hand is name they circle back to sometime in February for left-handed bullpen depth.

Kirby Yates – $5.75 million option ($1.25 million buyout)

Aug 23, 2023; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Kirby Yates (22) pitches

Kirby Yates was very up and down last season. It was probably the first time he felt fully healthy since the TJ surgery, and you could tell as he battled command issues all season. When Yates wasn’t walking guys he was very effective.

On the year he had a 3.28 ERA, 4.63 FIP, and strong 11.9 K/9. The red flag was the 5.5 BB/9. His splitter still provides needed swing and miss stuff out of the bullpen, but the walk rate creates hesitance for the Braves to pick up his option. Ultimately, it comes down to if the Braves think they can find a better arm for the $4.5 million difference. As of now I think they lean towards no, and bring Yates back for another run in 2024.

Collin McHugh – $6 million club option (no buyout)

Jun 12, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA;  Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Collin McHugh (32) pitches in

Sadly, this one seems to be another quick decision regarding the Braves bullpen. Had McHugh been coming off a season like he had in 2022 with Atlanta, I think the Braves would have picked up this option no problem. However, 2023 was a constant struggle for McHugh, thus making the $6 million option a bit too steep.

Collin will be 37 next season so it could be a question whether he wants to continue pitching as well. Should he want to, the Braves may be open to agreeing with McHugh on a minor league deal at a lesser value to prove last season was just a fluke.

Do we think they bring him back: No

Eddie Rosario – $9 million club option (no buyout)

Oct 6, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Eddie Rosario (8) during a workout before

Outside of Morton, this one is the biggest decision the Braves have to make. Rosario is the only position player the Braves have to make a decision on, and boy is it a big one. At $9 million it certainly isn’t throw away type money, but that doesn’t mean the Braves have an easy choice. All in all Rosario’s productivity probably warrants a contract around that number.

It boils down to if the Braves think they should look elsewhere for an upgrade. As of now, I feel rather confident Alex Anthopoulos will be investing in one of starting pitching or left field with real money for a serious upgrade. Currently, I lean towards that investment going toward the pitching department.

This offseason will more than likely be spent looking for pitching and a serious threat for a right-handed platoon candidate to pair with Rosario. Although, Kevin Pillar was solid in that roll last year, I think the Braves will look for some more impact to form the platoon with Eddie.

All of these decisions have the timer ticking down on them now. Some choices will be easier than others. Just be sure to stay tuned here at the site as we will provide coverage on each decision as soon as the details are made available.

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