The Braves re-signed veteran utilityman Charlie Culberson to a new minor league contract just days after he rejected an outright assignment in favor of free agency, per the team’s transaction log at MLB.com. Righty Seth Elledge, who also elected free agency following a recent DFA (by the Tigers), has also signed a minor league deal with Atlanta. It’s his second stint in the organization.
Culberson, 34, didn’t appear in a game with the Braves after being selected to the big league roster earlier this month. He’s spent the season in Triple-A Gwinnett, where he’s batted .204/.234/.255 in 107 plate appearances. A veteran who’s accrued more than seven years of MLB service over parts of ten big league seasons, Culberson also spent the 2018-20 seasons in Atlanta, hitting .265/.314/.454 in 473 plate appearances. Along the way, he endeared himself to the Atlanta faithful with a series of clutch hits, including multiple memorable walk-off home runs.
While Culberson hasn’t hit especially well this season, he’ll return to the Braves organization to remain on hand as a possible depth option and a mentor to up-and-coming infielders like Vaughn Grissom and Braden Shewmake. And, if the Braves feel they need some additional infield depth but don’t want to take either of those young players out of an everyday role to sit on the big league bench, Culberson could again be summoned for a short-term look at the MLB level. His versatility would make him a reasonable addition when rosters slightly expand in September, too.
Elledge, 27, was with the Braves in 2022 and opened the season in the organization this year. Atlanta designated him for assignment on April 8, and he’s since bounced to the Mets and Tigers on waivers before being designated in Detroit and electing free agency after clearing waivers.
In 23 1/3 career innings at the MLB level — all with the Cardinals — Elledge has a 4.63 ERA, 24% strikeout rate and 14.4% walk rate. In 2022, he posted a 3.88 ERA and gaudy 33.7% strikeout rate for the Braves’ Gwinnett affiliate, but he’s found rougher waters so far in 2023. Through 28 2/3 frames between the Triple-A affiliates of the Braves, Mets and Tigers, Elledge has been tagged for a 5.34 ERA. He’s had more success with the Braves’ Triple-A club than any other stop in his tour of the upper minors, so he’ll return to what’s seemingly a comfortable setting and look to build on that success with an eye toward a return to the big league roster.