Brian Snitker was at the helm of the Braves’ first World Series title in 26 years, leading the club to a championship in his fourth full season as skipper. A few months after securing the title, the 2018 National Manager of the Year chatted with Jeff Schultz of the Athletic.
The 66-year-old Snitker addressed his personal future, telling Schultz he’s still energized for another season in the wake of the World Series win. Asked how long he planned to continue managing, Snitker said he at least intends to work the remainder of his current contract. Though he was already under contract through 2023, the Braves exercised their 2024 option on his services shortly after the season.
As they prepare for what they hope to be a fifth consecutive division title, the Braves have plenty of roster maneuvering to figure out after the lockout. Hanging over the entire offseason has been the status of Freddie Freeman, who didn’t sign before the transactions freeze. Freeman and the Braves have reportedly haggled over whether his contract should include a sixth guaranteed year. With the possibility looming that he might depart, the Braves have been tied to Matt Olson and Anthony Rizzo as possible alternatives.
How ardently to pursue a Freeman reunion is a decision for ownership and the front office. Snitker, unsurprisingly, tells Schultz he’d prefer to keep the 2020 NL MVP around but pointed to the Braves’ ability to overcome losses of key players (most notably Ronald Acuña Jr. and Mike Soroka) last season. “Do I want Freddie back? Absolutely. Why wouldn’t I,” Snitker asked rhetorically. “But it may not happen. It’s the way business is. But I’m not freaking out about it right now. Last year, we lost Player A, and we kept going. We lost player B, C, D, E, F, and we just kept going. It’s what we do.”
Snitker also addressed the status of corner outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who was arrested in late May on domestic violence charges. Police at the time alleged they saw Ozuna strike his wife Genesis with a cast. A few months after his arrest, Ozuna agreed to partake in a domestic violence intervention program that could see his criminal charges eventually dropped. After spending a few months on the injured list, he was placed on paid administrative leave through the end of the 2021 season. Following the season, MLB announced a retroactive 20-game suspension for violation of the MLB – MLBPA Domestic Violence Policy, making him eligible to return to the field from the outset of 2022.
The Braves haven’t officially announced their plans for Ozuna, who is under contract through 2024. If Ozuna remains on the active roster, Snitker tells Schultz he’d have no qualms about putting him back into the lineup. “As far as I know right now, he’s going to be there,” Snitker said. “He went through the process, and he’s been cleared to play. That’s all I care about.“