Torres just turned 28 in December and has seen fairly consistent time in the big leagues over the past three years. But he was designated for assignment by the Mets last August.
At the surface, that was a puzzling move for New York, which had acquired Torres over the prior winter and received 34 1/3 innings of 3.15 ERA pitching with 35 strikeouts. But a closer look revealed the obvious cause: Torres also permitted 26 free passes in that span and was ineffective against opposing lefties, who touched him for a .268/.406/.393 batting line.
Atlanta will hope that Torres can return to the form he showed over 2013-14. While he was still wild at times — especially in the latter season — he did put up 112 innings of 2.49 ERA pitching while posting 9.1 K/9 against 4.3 BB/9.
The route back isn’t immediately clear. Torres hit the strike zone with just 41.0% of his pitches in 2015, but that was actually up from his 2014 campaign. The biggest issue, it seems, was a drop in his swinging strike rate — from nearly 13% in the prior two years to 9.2% — that occurred as batters made more frequent contact while chasing less of his offerings outside of the zone.
If the Braves and Torres can figure things out, there’s some potential future upside for the team — and not just through the possibility of a mid-season flip. Torres will enter the year with just 2.095 days of service, meaning he could be controlled for up to three more seasons via arbitration.