The Braves announced that Charlie Culberson has been designated for assignment. The veteran utilityman will hit the DFA wire to make room for Chadwick Tromp, as Atlanta has called the catcher up from Triple-A Gwinnett.
Already a member of the Braves from 2018-20, Culberson spent the last two seasons with the Rangers before catching on with the Rays on a minor league deal this past offseason. He opted out of that deal towards the end of Spring Training and then signed a new minors contract with Atlanta, and the Braves selected Culberson’s contract to the active roster almost a month ago. Curiously, Culberson hasn’t played in even one game since being called up, so his latest stint with the Braves could end without an official appearance.
If Culberson clears waivers, he has enough MLB service time to reject an outright assignment to Triple-A and elect free agency. It’s possible the Georgia native might pass on the open market and instead remain in his hometown organization, or he could again seek a new job elsewhere given that the Braves don’t appear to have much of a role for him on their 26-man roster.
Culberson is a Major League game away from making it 11 seasons in the Show, as he has appeared in 585 games for five different teams at the big league level over parts of his previous 10 seasons. The 34-year-old has a career .248/.293/.386 slash line over 1311 career plate appearances, but is known more for his defensive versatility than hit bat. Culberson has played all over the infield and spent a lot of time as a left fielder, with a few appearances as a right fielder and even as a mop-up pitcher.
Sean Murphy is the other key player in today’s transaction, as the catcher left yesterday’s game with a right hamstring injury suffered while running the bases. Murphy underwent an MRI that showed some inflammation (Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was among those to report the news) but not any severe damage, so the Braves called up Tromp to provide catching depth while Murphy takes some time to recover.
Since Atlanta doesn’t play on Monday, we should know by Tuesday whether or not Murphy has healed well enough to return to action, or if a 10-day IL stint is ultimately required. Assuming that Culberson isn’t claimed on waivers, it’s possible his DFA is something of a handshake move that would see him accept an outright assignment with the promise of being called back to the Braves’ roster in a few days if Murphy does go on the IL.