The Braves made a series of roster moves this morning, per a club announcement. The club designated infielder Charlie Culberson for assignment to create room on the 40-man and active rosters for newly-acquired infielder Nicky Lopez. Meanwhile, left-hander A.J. Minter was activated from the 15-day injured list. Minter claimed a roster spot that was vacated by right-hander AJ Smith-Shawver when he was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett last night.
Despite the fact that Culberson was selected to the Major League roster on June 30, he appeared in only one game with the Braves and tallied a single plate appearance on July 16, during which he delivered a base hit. He’s otherwise been on-hand as bench depth but hasn’t been plugged into a game. This is the second time this season Atlanta has designated the veteran utilityman for assignment; he cleared waivers, elected free agency and quickly re-signed on a new minor league deal last time around.
Culberson, 34, has also appeared in 24 Triple-A games this season, batting .204/.234/.255 through 107 trips to the plate. It hasn’t been a strong year on the whole, but he’s beloved in the Braves organization, from the clubhouse to the fanbase, for his prior stints there in 2018-20. During that three-year period, Culberson delivered roughly league-average offense on the whole and appeared at every position other than catcher and center field. His penchant for clutch hits and walk-offs endeared him to Braves fans during that time, and Culberson enjoyed a career-best season with Atlanta in 2018 when he hit .270/.326/.466 with a dozen homers in 322 plate appearances.
The Braves will have until tomorrow evening’s trade deadline to trade Culberson if they choose, but it seems likelier that they’ll hope to pass him through outright waivers. He’d have the ability to reject an outright assignment in favor of free agency once again, but given how quickly he re-upped with the Braves on a new minor league deal last time around, the same sequence could play out following his second DFA of the season.