The Braves announced on Thursday that they’ve selected the contract of outfielder Peter Bourjos, who’ll return for a second stint with the big league club this season. To create room on the 40-man roster, Atlanta released right-hander Aaron Blair, who’d previously undergone season-ending shoulder surgery. Meanwhile, Dustin Peterson was optioned to Triple-A to create a spot on the 25-man roster for Bourjos’ return.
Bourjos, 31, was on the Braves’ Opening Day roster after signing a Major League deal late in Spring Training, but he received sparse playing time in Atlanta before being designated for assignment, electing free agency and returning to the organization on a new minor league contract. He enjoyed a productive 24-game run in Triple-A Gwinnett between stints with the big league club, slashing .277/.352/.511 with a pair of homers, six doubles and five triples through 105 plate appearances.
The fleet-footed Bourjos will give the Braves a backup option in center field behind Ender Inciarte — something they presently lack with Ronald Acuna on the 10-day disabled list. Preston Tucker and Charlie Culberson have been handling left field with Inciarte in center and Nick Markakis in right, and it’s not entirely clear how the Braves will adjust that mix once Acuna is able to return. Bourjos could be sent out again, but Culberson is only just now showing signs of life at the plate after a poor start, while Tucker hasn’t hit much at all since a hot first week of the season.
As for Blair, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that the Braves will continue to pay for the right-hander’s rehab from shoulder surgery. It stands to reason that there’s a fair chance he’ll re-sign with the club on a new minor league deal where he can serve as a depth option in 2019 without occupying a spot on the big league 40-man roster.