MARCH 29: The Braves have brought Kipnis back on a different minors pact, O’Brien tweets.
MARCH 27, 1:25 pm: Lamb has been released, per a team announcement. While he signed a major league contract in February, it was non-guaranteed. Therefore, the Braves will only be on the hook for a portion of his $1MM salary. The move drops Atlanta’s 40-man roster count to 39. Lamb will again become a free agent.
Atlanta will also option Camargo and catcher William Contreras to the alternate training site to open the year, per David O’Brien of the Athletic (Twitter link). In addition to Sandoval and Adrianza, backup catcher Alex Jackson and fourth outfielder Ender Inciarte will fill out the season-opening bench.
10:48 am: The Braves announced this morning they’ve selected the contract of corner infielder Pablo Sandoval. Outfielder Phil Ervin has been designated for assignment to clear 40-man roster space. Additionally, the Braves released non-roster utilityman Jason Kipnis.
Sandoval made Atlanta’s roster late last season and picked up four postseason plate appearances. The Braves brought him back on a minor-league deal in January, and he’ll now earn a season-opening spot on the active roster. Sandoval will join a crowded but still uncertain third base mix in Atlanta, where Austin Riley, Johan Camargo, Jake Lamb and the newly-added Ehire Adrianza could all get playing time. Sandoval, 34, only hit .214/.287/.262 over 94 plate appearances last season, but he was an above-average hitter as recently as 2019 with the Giants.
Ervin has bounced around via waivers from the Reds to the Mariners to the Cubs and to Atlanta since last summer. The 28-year-old hit fairly well over his first couple seasons in Cincinnati but stumbled to a .149/.292/.189 mark last season. Teams remained intrigued by Ervin’s combination of otherwise decent offense and ability to play all three outfield positions, but the out-of-options outfielder has had trouble sticking on an active roster. Atlanta has a week to trade Ervin or place him on outright waivers.
Kipnis signed a minor-league deal with Atlanta after spending last season with the Cubs. The former Indians second baseman hit .237/.341/.404 with Chicago in 2020. He’ll now return to the open market in search of a new opportunity.