Get to know the Braves 2021 Opening Day Roster

 Get to know the Braves 2021 Opening Day Roster

NORTH PORT, FL – FEBRUARY 23: A general interior view of CoolToday Park during the Spring Training game between the Detroit Tigers and the Atlanta Braves at CoolToday Park on February 23, 2020 in North Port, Florida. The Tigers defeated the Braves 5-1. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The Atlanta Braves have yet to officially announce their Opening Day roster, but barring something unexpected, the group was essentially in place following a flurry of roster moves over the weekend. Listed below is our expectation for the Braves’ Opening Day roster that includes how they were acquired along with some fun facts about each player.

(If there is a late or unexpected change, we will update this article.)

RHP Ian Anderson

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Age: 22, Birthplace: Rexford, NY,
Draft: Selected by Atlanta with the 3rd pick of the 2016 MLB Draft.
Expected Role: Starting Rotation

Projection: 1.8 fWAR in 130 IP (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [above-average starter]

Fun facts: Has an identical twin brother in the Rangers’ organization who was drafted in the 13th round of 2019 draft; full name is Ian Theodore Anderson; is not Scottish frontman of Jethro Tull.

LHP Grant Dayton

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Age: 33, Birthplace: Huntsville, AL
Draft: Drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 11th round of the 2010 MLB Draft.
Acquired: Claimed off waivers from the Dodgers November 20, 2017. Signed a one-year, $900,000 deal for the 2021 season.
Expected Role: Bullpen

Projection: 0.0 fWAR in 44 IP (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [replacement-level reliever]

Fun facts: Pitched two no-hitters in high school. Was traded by the Marlins for Chris Reed, a 16th overall pick who never got a PA in the majors despite appearing in two games. Color blind.

LHP Max Fried

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Age: 27, Birthplace: Santa Monica, CA
Draft: Selected by the San Diego Padres with the 7th overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft
Acquired: Traded by the Padres along with Dustin Peterson, Jace Peterson and Mallex Smith in exchange for Aaron Northcraft and Justin Upton. Avoided arbitration with a $3.5 million deal for the 2021 season.
Expected Role: Starting Rotation

Projection: 2.6 fWAR in 144 IP (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [very good starter]

Fun facts: High school teammate of Jack Flaherty and Lucas Giolito at Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles, all three of which are Opening Day starters in 2021; Fried transferred to Harvard-Westlake when his original high school cut its baseball team ahead of his junior year; full name is Max Dorian Fried.

RHP Luke Jackson

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Age: 29, Birthplace: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Draft: Drafted by the Texas Rangers in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft.
Acquired: Originally acquired from the Rangers in exchange for Brady Feigl and Tyrell Jenkins. Elected free agency in June of 2018 and re-signed with the Braves a day later. Avoided arbitration with a one-year, $1.8 million deal for the 2021 season.
Expected Role: Bullpen

Projection: 0.3 fWAR in 50 IP (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [average reliever]

Fun facts: Once designated for assignment by the Braves three times in a six-month period (Dec 2017, Apr 2018, June 2018); full name is Luke Ray Jackson.

RHP Nate Jones

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Age: 35, Birthplace: Butler, KY
Draft: Drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the fifth round of the 2007 MLB Draft.
Acquired: Signed as a free agent in February, 2021.
Expected Role: Bullpen

Projection: 0.0 fWAR in 28 IP (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [replacement-level reliever]

Fun facts: Part of the U.S. 2017 championship team (World Baseball Classic); full name is Nathan Andrew Jones.

RHP Chris Martin

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Age: 34, Birthplace: Arlington, TX
Draft: Did not sign via draft; signed minor league deal with Red Sox in 2010.
Acquired: Originally acquired from the Rangers in exchange for Kolby Allard. Re-signed with the Braves on a two-year, $14 million deal in November, 2019.
Expected Role: Bullpen

Projection: 1.2 fWAR in 65 IP (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [above-average, high-leverage reliever]

Fun facts: Baseball career was halted due to shoulder injury; worked manual labor jobs for three years before returning to baseball 2007-2009. Spent 2016-2017 seasons pitching for Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan; full name is Christopher Riley Martin.

LHP Tyler Matzek

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Age: 30, Birthplace: Mission Viejo, CA
Draft: Drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the first round of the 2009 MLB Draft.
Acquired: Signed a minor league deal with the Braves in August, 2019
Expected Role: Bullpen

Projection: 0.3 fWAR in 58 IP (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [average reliever]

Fun facts: Made major league debut against Braves in 2014; out of affiliated baseball 2017-2018 due to performance anxiety. Returned to majors in July 2020, more than five years after prior major league appearance in May 2015; full name is Tyler Alexander Matzek.

LHP A.J. Minter

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Age: 27, Birthplace: Tyler, TX
Draft: Drafted by the Braves in the second round of the 2015 MLB Draft. Avoided arbitration with a $1.3 million deal for the 2021 season.
Expected Role: Bullpen

Projection: 0.7 fWAR in 60 IP (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [above-average reliever]

Fun facts: First professional start at any level was in Game 5 of the 2020 NL Championship Series — three scoreless innings with seven strikeouts; full name is Alex Jordan Minter.

RHP Charlie Morton

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Age: 37, Birthplace: Flemington, NJ
Draft: Drafted by the Braves in the third round of the 2002 MLB Draft.
Acquired: Signed as a free agent in November 2020 on a 1-year, $15 million deal.
Expected Role: Starting Rotation

Projection: 3.3 fWAR in 161 IP (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [very good starter]

Fun facts: Traded by the Braves to the Pirates in 2009. Recalibrated himself as a pitcher after the 2015 season by moving to a harder four-seam fastball away from his sinker, leading to a late-career renaissance. One of only five active pitchers with World Series starts for two or more teams; full name is Charles Alfred Morton IV.

LHP Sean Newcomb

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Age: 27, Birthplace: Brocktown, MA
Draft: Drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft.
Acquired: Traded by the Angels along with Erick Aybar, Chris Ellis and cash to the Braves for Jose Briceno and Andrelton Simmons in November 2015.
Expected Role: Bullpen

Projection: 0.1 fWAR in 35 IP (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [below-average reliever]

Fun facts: Came within one out of no-hitting the Dodgers in July 2019; full name is Sean William Newcomb.

LHP Will Smith

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Age: 31, Birthplace: Newnan, GA
Draft: Drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the seventh round of the 2008 MLB Draft.
Acquired: Signed as a free agent with the Braves in November 2019 (3 years, $40 million).
Expected Role: Bullpen

Projection: 1.2 fWAR in 64 IP (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [above-average, high-leverage reliever]

“Fun” facts: Surrendered key three-run home run in Game 6 of 2020 NL Championship series to Dodgers catcher Will Smith; matchup was the first time two players with the same name faced off as batter and pitcher in the postseason. Full name is William Michael Smith.

LHP Drew Smyly

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Age: 31, Birthplace: Little Rock, AR
Draft: Drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the second round of the 2010 MLB Draft.
Acquired: Signed as a free agent by the Braves in November, 2020 (1 year, $11 million)
Expected Role: Starting Rotation

Projection: 1.4 fWAR in 116 IP (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [average starter with injury risk]

Fun fact: Teammate of Nate Jones on WBC-winning 2017 U.S. team. Nickname is “Big Shooter.” Full name is Todd Andrew Smyly.

RHP Josh Tomlin

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Age: 36, Birthplace: Tyler, TX
Draft: Drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 19th round of the 2006 MLB Draft.
Acquired: Signed as a free agent by the Braves in November 2020 (1 year, $1 million).
Expected Role: Bullpen

Projection: -0.1 fWAR in 54 IP (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [marginally below replacement level reliever]

Fun facts: Has by far the lowest walk rate of any pitcher with 1,000 or more innings pitched 2010-2020 (3.5%). Full name is Joshua Aubry Tomlin.

RHP Huascar Ynoa

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Age: 22, Birthplace: Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Acquired: Signed by Twins as international amateur free agent in 2014; traded by the Twins to the Braves in exchange for Anthony Recker and Jaime Garcia in July 2017.
Expected Role: Bullpen/Spot Starter

Projection: 0.1 fWAR in 31 IP, including 3 starts (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [marginally above replacement level swingman]

Fun facts: Brother of Michael Ynoa, who pitched for the White Sox in 2016-2017. Played at four different levels in 2019 (High-A, Double-A, Triple-A, MLB). Full name is Huascar Jose Ynoa.

C – Travis d’Arnaud

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Age: 32, Birthplace: Long Beach, CA
Draft: Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the 2007 MLB Draft.
Acquired: Signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Braves in November 2019.
Expected Role: Starting Catcher

Projection: 2.2 fWAR in 442 PAs (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [above-average starter]

Fun facts: Nickname is “Little D.” Brother of former Brave Chase d’Arnaud. Won first career Silver Slugger award in 2020 but finished second to Dodgers’ Will Smith in wRC+ (144 to 163), though d’Arnaud had 40+ more PAs. Member of 2015 Mets World Series team. Missed most of 2018 season with recovery from Tommy John Surgery. Full name is Travis Emmanuel d’Arnaud.

C – Alex Jackson

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Age: 25, Birthplace: San Diego, CA
Draft: Drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft.
Acquired: Traded by the Seattle Mariners along with Tyler Pike to the Atlanta Braves for Max Povse and Rob Whalen.
Expected Role: Backup catcher

Projection: 0.0 fWAR in 58 PAs (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [replacement level]

Fun facts: Considered one of the best overall hitters in the 2014 draft, if not the best overall. At one point, the Mariners moved him to the outfield to try to get his bat to the majors faster, but he has since moved back to catching. Full name is Alexander James Jackson.

Infielders (6):

INF – Ehire Adrianza

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Age: 31, Birthplace: Guarenas, Venezuela
Acquired: Signed as an international amateur by the Giants in 2006. Signed a minor league deal with the Braves in January 2021; made the roster out of Spring Training.
Expected Role: Utility infielder

Projection: –0.2 fWAR in 224 PAs (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [marginally below replacement level]

Fun facts: Full name is Ehire Enrique Adrianza Palma; first name pronounced “ay-ray” with rhyming syllables. Debut in 2013 made him the 300th Venezuelan to play in MLB. In a late-season game in 2019, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli let Adrianza guest-manage the team in a game after they had clinched a division title.

2B – Ozzie Albies

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Age: 24, Birthplace: Willemstad, Curaçao
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent by the Braves in July 2013. Currently signed to a seven-year, $35 million deal with team options for the 2025 and 2026 seasons.
Expected Role: Starting Second Baseman

Projection: 3.9 fWAR in 651 PAs (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [above-average starter, in the running for best 2B in baseball]

Fun facts: Already has one All-Star Game selection (2018) and Silver Slugger award (2019). Already has 60 career home runs in the majors after hitting just 16 in the minors. Following his debut in 2017 as a 20-year old, was the youngest player in MLB for most of the rest of the season. Full name is Ozhaino Jurdy Jiandro Albies.

1B – Freddie Freeman

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Age: 31, Birthplace: Fountain Valley, CA
Draft: Drafted by the Braves in the second round of the 2007 MLB Draft. Currently in the final year of an eight-year, $135 million extension.
Expected Role: Starting first baseman

Projection: 4.5 fWAR in 679 PAs (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [likely All-Star, in the running for best 1B in baseball]

Fun facts: Career accolades in addition to the 2020 MVP award include four All-Star selections, a Gold Glove (2018), two Silver Sluggers (2019, 2020), and the Hank Aaron Award (2020). Hit for the cycle in 2016. Holds dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship and played for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. One of the few MLB players to experience a symptomatic case of COVID-19. Full name is Frederick Charles Freeman.

3B – Austin Riley

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Age: 23, Birthplace: Memphis, TN
Draft: Drafted by the Braves in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft.
Expected Role: Starting third baseman

Projection: 1.4 fWAR in 588 PAs (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [below-average starter]

Fun facts: Had one of the most prodigious starts, homer-wise in MLB history: seven homers in his first 14 games was the second-most in that span when he achieved it in 2019 (and is currently the third-most); one of only four players in MLB history to hit eight homers through 16 games. Full name is Michael Austin Riley.

1B – Pablo Sandoval

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Age: 34, Birthplace: Puerto Cabello, Venezuela
Acquired: Signed a minor league deal with the Braves in January, 2021
Expected Role: Pinch-hitter, emergency 3B/1B option

Projection: –0.1 fWAR in 98 PAs (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [marginally below replacement level]

Fun facts: Three-time World Series champion with the Giants, including a World Series MVP award in 2012 after hitting three homers in Game 1. Two-time All-Star (2011, 2012), hit for the cycle in 2011. Nicknamed “Kung Fu Panda.” Full name is Pablo Emilio Juan Sandoval Jr.

SS – Dansby Swanson

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Age: 27, Birthplace: Kennesaw, GA
Draft: Selected with the first overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Acquired: Traded by Arizona along with Aaron Blair and Ender Inciarte to the Braves in exchange for Shelby Miller and Gabe Speier. Lost his arbitration case against the Braves for the 2021 season and will earn $6 million.
Expected Role: Starting Shortstop

Projection: 2.0 fWAR in 644 PAs (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [average starter]

Fun factsCollege World Series Most Outstanding Player in 2014. Hit an inside-the-park home run in 2016 for his first major league homer, becoming only the second Brave to have his first home run be of the inside-the-park variety; it was also the Braves’ first inside-the-park home run since 2001. Full name is James Dansby Swanson.

OF – Ronald Acuña Jr.

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Age: 23, Birthplace: La Guaira, Venezuela
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent by the Braves in July, 2014. Currently signed to an eight-year, $100 million deal with team options for the 2027 and 2028 seasons.
Expected Role: Starting Right Fielder

Projection: 5.7 fWAR in 672 PAs (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [potential MVP candidate]

Fun facts: Grandfather and father both played minor league baseball; younger brother Luisangel is in the Rangers’ organization. Massive list of accolades already despite playing in parts just three seasons: 2018 Rookie of the Year, 2019 All-Star, 2019-2020 Silver Slugger, 30-30 season in 2019, NL stolen base leader in 2019. Full name is Ronald Jose Acuña Blanco Jr.

OF – Ender Inciarte

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Age: 30, Birthplace: Maracaibo, Venezuela
Acquired: Traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks along with Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair to the Braves in exchange for Shelby Miller and Gabe Speier. Currently in the final year of a five-year, $30.5 million extension; the Braves hold a team option for 2022 they are not likely to exercise.
Expected Role: Backup outfielder, defensive replacement

Projection: 0.0 fWAR in 245 PAs (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [replacement level]

Fun facts: Was once Rule 5 picked by the Phillies, and made their Opening Day roster, but was designated for assigment and returned to the Diamondbacks. Won three consecutive Gold Gloves 2016-2018; made the All-Star team in 2017. Played for Team Venezuela in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Full name is Ender David Inciarte Montiel.

LF – Marcell Ozuna

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Age: 30, Birthplace: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Acquired: Originally signed by the Marlins as an international amateur free agent in 2008. Signed a four-year, $65 million deal with the Braves that also includes a $16 million club option for a fifth year in February 2021.
Expected Role: Starting Left Fielder

Projection: 3.4 fWAR in 644 PAs (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [above-average starter]

Fun facts: Led NL in homers and RBI in 2020. Two-time All-Star in 2016-2017; won Silver Sluggers in 2017-2020 and a Gold Glove in 2017. The 2020 Silver Slugger was the first-ever for a designated hitter in the National League. Nickname is “The Big Bear” or “El Oso Grande.” Full name is Marcell Ozuna Idelfonso.

CF – Cristian Pache

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Age: 22, Birthplace: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent in July, 2015.
Expected Role: Starting Center Fielder

Projection: 0.2 fWAR in 532 PAs (Fangraphs Depth Charts) [marginally above replacement level]

Fun facts: Pache’s first big league homer came during the postseason, in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series against the Dodgers. Ahead of the 2021 season, he switched his uniform number to 25 to honor Andruw Jones (he was unable to do so previously because former Brave Tyler Flowers had the number). His full name is Cristian Rafael Pache.

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