Ronald Acuna is widely regarded as the best outfield prospect in baseball (if not the best prospect overall), but he tells MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that he’s also cognizant of the fact that he could open the year in the minors for a few weeks for service time reasons. The Braves could keep Acuna in Triple-A for as few as 12 days to open the season and, in doing so, secure an extra year of control over the 20-year-old’s future. “I’ve talked to some people, and I think the debate is whether they should keep me [with Triple-A Gwinnett] for a couple weeks or a month or however that works, contractually, to benefit the team,” Acuna tells Bowman through his interpreter. “I’ve tried not to focus on any of that. My goal is just to compete for the roster spot and hopefully make the team.”
The Braves, of course, would hardly be the first team to aggressively employ service time manipulation of that form with its young talent, and there’s every argument for doing so under the current construction of the service time system — especially for a team that would need quite a few things to go its way to be in Wild Card contention.
More from the division…
- The Mets are maintaining a dialogue with the Pirates on infielder Josh Harrison as they look to bolster their lineup, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. A free-agent signing for the Mets at second base remains likelier than a trade, Puma adds, but the team may not make any sort of move until some of the bigger-name free agents have come off the board. Obviously, the Mets aren’t tied to any of the top-tier free agents with a somewhat modestly-priced infield addition thought likely to be their final move of the winter, but some current free agents may first prefer to see if their market changes at all once some upper-tier names are off the board. New York has been oft-linked to Harrison, and the Pirates have reportedly expressed interest in young outfielder Brandon Nimmo.
- While most players seemingly can’t wait to get out of Miami these days, newly acquired Lewis Brinson couldn’t be more excited to be a member of the Marlins, writes Tim Healey of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. A Coral Springs, Fla. native, the 23-year-old Brinson grew up as a Marlins fan and has hopes of wearing No. 9 in Miami as an homage to his childhood favorite, Juan Pierre. President of baseball operations Michael Hill tells Healey that Brinson will have the opportunity to earn a spot in the Major League outfield right away in Spring Training. He figures to be joined in that regard by fellow newcomer Magneuris Sierra (acquired in the Marcell Ozuna trade) and 24-year-old Braxton Lee, who had a strong 2017 season Double-A and came to the Marlins in last summer’s Adeiny Hechavarria trade. Derek Dietrich could also be in the mix for some corner outfield at-bats, I’d imagine, though he could see time in the infield as well, depending on what other moves the Fish make between now and Opening Day.