9:52am: The Braves have announced a series of roster moves that set up the team’s Opening Day, 25-man unit. Third baseman Rio Ruiz has been optioned while non-roster players including righty Anibal Sanchez, outfielders Ezequiel Carrera and Danny Santana, and infielder Sean Kazmar were reassigned out of MLB camp.
These decisions reflect some shifts in thinking over recent days. It had seemed that Ruiz would open up with a shot at third base due to an injury to Johan Camargo. But the organization ended up snagging Ryan Flaherty, who now is set up to get some run at the hot corner in concert with utilityman Charlie Culberson.
Likewise, Santana long seemed a likely candidate to take a utility role from the bench, but the recent signing of Peter Bourjos seems to have bumped Santana from the immediate plans. As MLB.com’s Mark Bowman suggested earlier today on Twitter, Santana (along with Carrera) can be stashed at Triple-A to begin the season. That’s preferable to boosting either player to the 40-man and perhaps then facing an early call when it comes time to add a fifth starter. Instead, Lane Adams will now likely take an Opening Day job, barring an intervening acquisition, though the out-of-options outfielder could now be vulnerable when the roster pressure arises.
Speaking of that fifth starter’s spot, it seems the expectation remains that Sanchez will ultimately ascend to the rotation. For now, though, he’ll be assigned to Triple-A. If and when he does come up, he’ll need to be added to the 40-man roster.
While this slate of moves allows the Braves to avoid any final decisions — since control rights have been maintained over all the team’s options — that doesn’t mean that some moments of reckoning won’t soon arise. As we discussed in our review of the club’s offseason, this roster seems primed to undergo a fair bit of turnover at the start and over the course of the 2018 season.