The Braves have signed right-hander Taylor Widener to a minor league deal, according to his transactions tracker at MLB.com. The righty has been assigned to Triple-A Gwinnett for now but could perhaps be in big league camp as a non-roster invitee.
Widener, 29, was drafted by the Yankees but was sent to the Diamondbacks in the complex three-team deal involving Brandon Drury, Steven Souza Jr. and others. He went on to toss 107 2/3 innings for the Snakes from 2020 to 2022 with an earned run average of 4.26. He struck out 22.3% of batters faced but also gave out walks at an 11% clip. His .274 batting average on balls in play and 80.8% strand rate were both on the lucky side of average, leading to a 5.54 FIP and 4.68 SIERA that weren’t as impressive as his ERA.
He was outrighted by the Diamondbacks in January and ended up spending the most recent season in South Korea, pitching for two different clubs in the Korea Baseball Organization. He started with the NC Dinos but was released in August and then signed with the Samsung Lions. Between the two clubs, he tossed 115 innings over 20 starts and one relief appearance. He had a combined ERA of 4.54 in that time, striking out 20% of batters while walking 8.1% and keeping 60.4% of balls in play on the ground.
Widener was working exclusively out of the bullpen in 2022 but was mostly back in a starting gig in 2023. It’s unknown if Atlanta prefers him in one role or the other but they might like the flexibility. They signed reliever Reynaldo López this offseason and will reportedly stretch him out in the spring, with the plan of moving him back to the bullpen if he doesn’t win a rotation job.
The club currently projects to have a rotation of Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Charlie Morton and Bryce Elder, with López in the mix for a spot at the back alongside guys like AJ Smith-Shawver and Huascar Ynoa. Widener will give the club a non-roster option in that competition or perhaps in their relief mix. If he gets a roster spot at any point, he still has a couple of options remaining.