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NL Notes: Braves, Acuna, Brewers, Urias, Nationals, Zimmerman, Payroll

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker has no intention of moving Ronald Acuna Jr. to the cleanup spot, per The Athletic’s David O’Brien (via Twitter). Even before the Marcell Ozuna signing, Snitker wasn’t entertaining removing Acuna from leadoff, where he excelled last season after a short stint in the middle of the order. Acuna has 15 leadoff home runs across his two seasons with the Braves and an overall batting line of .297/.380/.565 out of the leadoff spot. Acuna hardly struggled elsewhere in the lineup, but he’s certainly a luxury at the top of the order for the two-time defending NL East champs. With Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna presumably behind him in the order, there’s no particular need to mess with success. Let’s check in elsewhere in the National League…

  • Milwaukee Brewers infielder Luis Urias is returning stateside to have his left wrist examined, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links). Urias cut his winter ball season short upon experiencing soreness. The Brewers hope to have answers by the middle of next week, and surgery is a possibility. Though mention of surgery sets off alarm bells, the Brewers expect this to be a minor issue. Urias, of course, is looking to establish himself as a full-time big-leaguer in his first season with the Brewers. He put up 1.0 bWAR, but just 0.1 fWAR across 71 games of action as a rookie with the Padres in 2019.
  • Now that franchise cornerstone Ryan Zimmerman is back on an exceedingly affordable $2MM deal, the Nationals have financial flexibility under the tax, writes MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. Roster resource puts the Nats’ tax payroll at about $204MM, which doesn’t provide a ton of wiggle room under the $208MM tax line. Zuckerman figures it closer to $194MM, which is the number given by Cot’s Contracts, roughly $14MM under the tax line. Either way, the Nats have been a willing tax payer in the past, and after ducking under the line in 2019, they’re safe to exceed it again without extra penalty. Given the level of free agent available, however, the Nats are probable to enter the season – like their divisional mates in New York and Philadelphia – near the line with the ability to exceed it with midseason additions should they be close enough to push for the playoffs.

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