The Braves announced Thursday that they’ve released outfielder Ender Inciarte. He’d been designated for assignment earlier in the week.
Inciarte, 30, came to the Braves alongside Dansby Swanson in the deal that sent Shelby Miller to Arizona, and he quickly solidified himself as a quality top-of-the-order presence with standout defense. His first pair of seasons in Atlanta produced a .298/.350/.397 batting line and a pair of Gold Gloves, and while his bat slipped a little in year three, he was still a solid hitter in what proved to be a third straight Gold Glove-winning campaign.
Atlanta inked Inciarte to a five-year, $30.525MM extension following his first season with them, and while the early returns on the deal were a bargain, the commitment now looks rather regrettable. Inciarte’s best years in Atlanta were the ones in which he’d have been controlled anyhow, and he’s now batted just .223/.306/.338 in the past three seasons, which would’ve been his second arbitration year, his final arb year and his first free-agent season.
Inciarte is earning $8MM this year in that would-be free-agent campaign, and he’s also owed a $1.025MM buyout on a 2022 option for a second free-agent year that is obviously a moot point. The Braves have tried, to no avail, to move Inciarte’s contract at various points in the past couple of years, and they’ll now simply cut bait on the contract and pay the remainder of the freight.
Now that he’s a free agent, Inciarte will be free to sign with any club seeking some outfield depth. He’d be owed only the prorated league minimum for any time spent on the Major League roster with another club, and that sum would be subtracted from the amount owed to him by Atlanta. The Braves are otherwise on the hook for the remainder of his 2021 salary as well as his option buyout.