The Braves announced this morning that they’ve reinstated reigning NL Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II from the injured list. Atlanta optioned outfielders Nick Solak and Eli White (who’d been on the paternity list but was first reinstated) to Triple-A Gwinnett to open a spot on the active roster.
Harris played in just seven games this season before landing on the 10-day IL due to a lower back strain. While initial indications from the team were that Harris could be back after only a minimum stay on the IL, he wound up missing about three weeks of action due to the issue. His absence hasn’t done much to slow down a deep and talented Braves roster, as Atlanta currently sits atop the NL East with a 17-9 record, holding a two-game lead over second-place New York and a four-game lead over both Miami and Philadelphia, who’ll head into the weekend at 13-13.
The return of Harris figures to push Sam Hilliard from center field to left field somewhat regularly, with Kevin Pillar and Eddie Rosario also mixing in at the position. Hilliard, in particular, has been a key contributor in Harris’ absence, batting .296/.367/.537 with three home runs, four stolen bases and solid glovework in center field.
That said, Hilliard has also punched out in a mammoth 41.7% of his plate appearances (25 of 60) and is currently sporting a .500 average on balls in play that is sure to regress over time. Hilliard rarely chases off the plate (21%), but when he does, his 31% contact rate is the second-lowest mark in all of baseball (min. 60 plate appearances). His 70% contact rate on pitches within the zone is the third-lowest among that same subset, and his overall 58.6% contact rate leads only Giants Rule 5 catcher/outfielder Blake Sabol. Strikeout issues are nothing new for Hilliard, who entered the season with a career 32.7% rate in 639 plate appearances with the Rockies.
None of Pillar (.227/.277/.341), Rosario (.222/.263/.417) or Marcell Ozuna (.085/.194/.203) are hitting well this year. The Braves are winning anyway, and particularly now with Harris returning, they can afford to see if Hilliard can improve his contact skills or if one or more of those three struggling veterans can turn things around to help solidify the team’s outlook in left field and at designated hitter. If not, those could be potential areas of focus at this summer’s trade deadline.
Turning back to the 22-year-old Harris, he went just 5-for-23 to open the season. However, he was of course nothing short of brilliant as a rookie, batting .297/.339/.514 with 19 homers and 20 steals in 114 games en route to the aforementioned Rookie of the Year honors. He went 1-for-7 with a pair of walks, three strikeouts and a stolen base in two Triple-A rehab games before this morning’s reinstatement from the injured list. Harris is in the first season of an eight-year, $72MM extension he signed last summer; the contract spans the 2023-30 seasons and contains club options for the 2031 and 2032 campaigns.
The Braves have 2.16 Billion reasons to… just kidding. Welcome back King! Southside represent!
Outfield Acura, Harris and Grissom (when Arcia returns).
Trading in an Acuna for an Acura seems like a downgrade
Faster, but less agile.
100 down with this outifield and Sam Hilliard/Rosario being bench pieces and occasional DH when both our catchers aren’t tearing the cover off like they so far this year. Grissom brings the MLB energy and hustle. He belongs on this team and I think LF would be a great spot. Ozuna needs to go.
Actually Grissom has an OPS 50 points lower than Rosario and Rosario didn’t even start hitting until the last week. Grissom is gonna go get more reps at SS in AAA when Arcia comes back unless he adds to that OPS of 630. He’s currently sporting a -0.4 WAR. He’s had some big hits but so has Rosario. The DH at bats are gonna start going to D’arnaud when he comes back
Many people have said what Seitzer said about Ozuna trying too hard and putting too much pressure on himself but obviously the pressure is only going to go up so IDK why they say that like it’s something that will improve. He is obviously trying too hard but imagine when he’s still hitting around 100 in June and the race tightens up in the east (if it does) and he is being booed even more. He needs to go. He isn’t even slugging anymore. His slugging is far under 300.
Quite the logjam they got out there for that 3rd outfielder spot. Rosario has looked a lot better this week, but it still feels like we could end up seeing someone completely different there by the end of the year. The Ozuna/Pillar/Rosario/Hilliard tandem isn’t exactly striking fear into anyone. On such a great team top to bottom, they certainly have one glaring hole.
Hilliard and Rosario are good enough to stay on the roster, but Atlanta needs to bite the bullet and DFA Ozuna.
Yea because every team that wins the WS needs an All Star at every position. I’m more concerned with Minter in the bullpen than LF currently.
Absolutely not. But every team that wins the World Series; addresses holes in the lineup throughout the year
Yeah you can address both. There isn’t a rule saying you can only fix one problem in a season. Although Manfred may add that soon.
They don’t really need to bite the bullet and release him they just Snitker to stop playing him everyday. Releasing him cost the Braves a ton of money and very likely prevents them from being able to go out a spend more.
@Yay: Doesn’t cost the Braves anymore to release him than it does to keep him. Sunk cost is sunk cost, Although it’s doubtful another team would have interest in Ozuna if the Braves dfa him, the Braves could recoup the MLB minimum salary if Ozuna could find a team willing to sign him after he clears waivers.
Sorry but that’s just wrong…If the Braves cut him they have to write him a check for the remainder of this season in addition to next seasons 18 million and 1 million buyout. it costs you a 25-30 million dollar check to release Ozuna.
You can’t imply a sunk cost doesn’t effect you when you’re trying to tack another 19 million onto this teams payroll for this season.
The braves will not have to pay his 18 million until next year regardless of his DFA And the following year’s buyout will not have to be paid until then. To make this more clear they will have to pay their 18 million dollars for this season. They will have to pay him another 18 million next year and the last million the following year. You don’t pay the player off if you DFA him.
LoL yes guys they do
@yay You mst be mistaken
I just read about Bumgardner
“This essentially ends Bumgarner’s time with the team and leaves the D-backs on the hook for the remainder of his salary, a staggering $34 million OVER THE NEXT TWO YEARS.”
Yaysports is the big wrong on this one.
@Yay: Nothing funnier than a guy being that wrong and insisting that everyone else is. This is easy to fact check. You should try that before embarrassing yourself this way. Like to know who the other poor guy is that agreed w/you by liking your comment.
Correct. The Mets are still cutting $22m worth of check to Robinson Cano this season.
Group think doesn’t make you all right it just makes you feel better about yourselves lol.. Keep circle jerking though and failing to understand why the Braves don’t do it.
You still fail to understand that what you’re being disagreed with in this comment thread is your factually incorrect assertion that ML teams have to pay the entire amount owed on multi year deals at the time a player is released. They don’t. Ozuna is owed $16.5M this season. He’s owed $16.5M in 2024. He’s owed a $1M buyout on an option for 2025. You can argue your opinion all you want about whether or not the Braves should release Ozuna. What you’re absolutely wrong about is the Braves having to pay the entire remaining amount of his 4 year deal at the time he’s released. Quit trying to make the disagreement w/your posting wrong information about MLB contract requirements into some kind of attack on your opinion of a possible Ozuna release. Those are two separate issues. You could have learned some factual information in this conversation, but you’re too busy trying to defend your mistaken comments about Ozuna’s contract.
No Nashville despite you feeling like you are the gate keeper to all things Braves on Trade Rumors you are wrong more often than you’d like to believe I just rarely speak up and others bow to you. You are wrong here.
You could save yourself the embarrassment of being wrong about your claims that multi year MLB contracts are paid out in their entirety at the time of a players release by doing some basic research. The fact that you’re wrong about claiming that multi year contracts are paid in full when a player is dfa applies to every MLB team—not just the Braves. You’re not defending an opinion when you spout that garbage about having to pay Ozuna all the salary owed on his multi year deal. You’re making a nonfactual claim about a specific issue that you’re totally wrong about. Btw, I didn’t make a comment on whether Ozuna should/shouldn’t be released. I don’t care. You’re misrepresenting the pushback by those who acknowledge your factually incorrect statement on MLB contracts by portraying the corrections as a personal attack on your opinion about Ozuna. “Gatekeeper to all things Braves”….?????? Lol. I made no comment in this comment thread until you started spouting that garbage about Ozuna’s contract.
I would say you could save yourself but it’s far too late
Eddie’s on a bit of a hot streak, slashing 292/.346/.625 over the last seven games. Pillar is hitting .200/.294/.467 over the same span. What makes Hilliard valuable is his glove, although Eddie has looked pretty good this year.
Braves gonna mash! Should wrap up the division by June and ready to play the Rays in the World Series.
These cowards won’t DFA Ozuna.
What the hell is Ozuna still doing on this team? The dbacks figured it out why can’t the braves.
He has dirt on someone in the organization.
has to. can’t imagine another reason he’s still there. yeah, there’s a chunk of change left on his deal but if you want to win the division or the first wildcard so you have the first round bye you can’t keep a black hole of production on the roster all year.
You can it’s just stupid to keep forcing him into the lineup everyday
One advantage the Braves have being an NL team that was used to having a pitcher bat 9th is they can stash a lousy hitter or two at the bottom of the lineup. I could see the Braves making a deal or two and reshuffling the deck later in the seaaon
You’d think so, but that’s not the case anymore. 7-8-9 really carried the offense at times last year (Harris mostly at 9) which really made the lineup pretty fluid, having that kind of speed at the bottom of your order, essentially seeing Harris as another leadoff position from the 9th. I almost wish they did that again with him this year, if not having “an instant out” in Ozuna, etc. to contend with.
Is the title “reigning NL ROY” really fitting? Yes, he won, but it’s not as though he can compete again. If he is reigning now, he will be dethroned inevitably.
Sounds better than lame duck.
But not as tasty as Peking duck.
And not as liable as Peking tom.
They call them “reigning Miss America” though they won’t be that in a year. He is the current ROY until they announce the next one at the end of the year. He’s not eligible (not being a rookie), so not really sure how that would be a knock on his performance.
It’s not a knock on his performance whatsoever; just a linguistic question for those who have to write reports like this one.
Anyone who wins something the previous year is always regarded as the “reigning” whatever of what they won until someone else wins that same award. Not just true in baseball, but true in every sport and just about in everything in life. Hope that helps outside of just this report.
Sure, but it’s no different than Astros being called the “reigning WS champion” — only difference is they get to defend their title whereas Harris can’t because he’s ineligible, not unlike a healthy player during 2022 season wouldn’t be eligible for Comeback Player of the Year…as they’re not coming back from anything but vacation.
I’m his last seven games Rosario is hitting .292/.346/.625 with 2BB, 5R, 4 RBIs, and 2HRs.
He is also still striking out at a 33% clip during the past seven games, but I think you’ll still gladly take those production numbers from the player thats supposed to be the worst hitter in your lineup.
Now, maybe Rosario is starting to turn a corner, maybe not, but the more important fact is that Snitker and the Braves can afford to just ride the guys with the hot bats when he’s filling in the final spot(s) of their lineup each game.
With Harris back, and until d’Arnaud gets back Snitker will have to use two of Rosario, Hilliard, Pillar, and Ozuna, and Rosario and Hilliard are hitting enough for now that they’re able to score some runs while helping turn the lineup over back to Acuña..
Then, once either player’s hot streak runs out, Snitker can simply turn to either Pillar or Ozuna, and then continue riding whichever player is currently seeing and hitting the ball well..
I thought Solak was an interesting pickup, but he’s clearly already back in AAA alongside Eli White, but both of those players still have an option left, so if either player gets really hot at AAA Snitker could possibly recall either one of them and they can help fill in some ABs while their on a hot streak as well..
Either way, I think the Braves have a decent enough number of options to man LF, but I honestly wish they would try Grissom out in LF the next time he gets sent down, so they could still use his bat once Arcia comes back from his injury..
They could just use either Rosario, Hilliard, or Pillar in LF, and then use Grissom as their primary DH at least until d’Arnaud comes back, but idk I think they might prioritize Grissom getting experience at SS down in AAA, so all of this likely won’t even be an option when that times comes.
Acuña Jr. RF
That could and would be one heck of a lineup for the Braves, and would definitely maximize their offensive potential for sure…
Regarding: “He is also still striking out at a 33% clip during the past seven games, but I think you’ll still gladly take those production numbers from the player thats supposed to be the worst hitter in your lineup.”
Good point., We should focus on the slash line first. If it’s good or better, who cares if a high percentage of their outs are strikeouts? If it’s bad AND they have a high K%, then, okay, there’s the problem. Is it that groundouts and flyouts are considered potentially more productive, since they can advance runners? Am I missing something?
I wouldn’t be surprise when Arcia comes back if no one else has taken over left field or we have a good platoon going on that when Grissom goes down to minors he doesn’t start seeing some time in left field. He can hit at big league level that is clear. There has always and still remains questions on his glove at SS long term. I think the Braves are waiting until May 17th to release Ozuna who still isn’t hitting and that date gets him to 10 years service time which maxes out his pension
Harris returns in time for the Mets 4 game series which might be a washout this weekend.
Yeah, weather looks bad
As bad as the Mets probable SP Peterson, Megill, Butto & TBD lol
Grissom can hit and will make a good perhaps great LF but never a high grade fielding SS. They’ll do it sooner or later or trade Grissom for an OF if he wants to stay in the infield. Do it when Arica returns. Everyone will like the experiment I suspect including Grissom.