Atlanta Braves – MLB Trade Rumors Tue, 19 Jun 2018 04:51:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Braves Sign Luke Jackson, Option Luiz Gohara To Triple-A Sun, 17 Jun 2018 15:26:46 +0000 The Braves have signed right-hander Luke Jackson to a Major League contract, the team announced via Twitter.  Jackson will return to Atlanta’s roster in place of Luiz Gohara, who was optioned to Triple-A.

Jackson was designated for assignment by the Braves earlier this week, and had elected to become a free agent rather than accept an outright assignment to Triple-A.  That would have been the fourth time in the last six months that Jackson had been outrighted off Atlanta’s 40-man, so now he has a bit of extra security in the form of an MLB deal.  The 26-year-old tossed 50 2/3 innings out of the Braves’ bullpen last season, and has an overall 4.66 ERA, 6.8 K/9, and 1.83 K/BB rate over 56 total IP in a Braves uniform.

Gohara will head down to Triple-A to get some regular action as a starter, as the Braves are looking to get one of their top young arms back on track after a rough start to the 2018 season.  Gohara was hampered by injuries in Spring Training and in early April, and since being called up in early May, he has made just seven appearances for the team (though he also spent a week on the bereavement list).  Gohara made just one start and otherwise worked as a long reliever, struggling to a 6.89 ERA over 15 2/3 innings of work.

Acquired as part of a deal with the Mariners in January 2017, Gohara made a rapid rise in his first year in Atlanta’s farm system, going from high-A ball to a September call-up to the big leagues.  His strong performance (2.62 ERA, 10.7 K/9, 3.34 K/BB over 123 2/3 combined minor league IP) put him on the radar as a big prospect in not just the Braves’ system, but in the minor leagues as a whole.  Gohara began to emerge on top-100 prospect rankings last summer, and Baseball America considered him to be the 23rd-best minor league in baseball in their pre-2018 prospect listings.

Braves Place Mike Foltynewicz on 10-Day DL, Reinstate Julio Teheran Sat, 16 Jun 2018 20:52:58 +0000 The Braves have placed right-hander Mike Foltynewicz on the 10-day disabled list with right triceps tightness, retroactive to June 13th. In a corresponding move, they’ve activated fellow righty Julio Teheran from the disabled list, who is scheduled to start tomorrow’s game.

The 26-year-old Foltynewicz has been a revelation this season, pitching to a pristine 2.16 ERA across 79 innings so far. He’s managed to strike out 10.71 batters thanks in part to a fastball that averages a whopping 97 miles per hour. That mark trails only Luis Severino in all of MLB. Foltynewicz has taken his game to a new level in June, having allowed just two earned runs across his three starts this month while striking out 25 batters. That includes a complete game shutout against the Nationals on June 1st.

Teheran has posted a career-high 5.59 FIP so far this season due in part to diminished velocity, a spike in his already-high walk rate, and a catastrophic 39% hard contact allowed. That last mark is the 20th-highest among all qualified major league starters. Teheran’s career has been a roller coaster of highs and lows, but he’ll hope he can turn his season around after a brief stint on the DL for a thumb injury.

Injury Notes: Donaldson, Blue Jays, Ravin, May, Goody Sat, 16 Jun 2018 14:09:17 +0000 Former AL MVP Josh Donaldson is expected to miss “at least a few more days” before getting a chance to return to the Blue Jays’ lineup. A report from Gregor Chisholm of indicates that Donaldson still hasn’t felt comfortable running at full speed, or as manager John Gibbons puts it, “he still couldn’t cut it loose,” during a series of running drills on Thursday. The third baseman has been out since May 28th with a sore calf muscle. Coupled with the shoulder injury he dealt with earlier this season, one has to wonder just how much these injury concerns will impact the 32-year-old Donaldson’s free agent stock headed into the 2018-2019 offseason. It’s not as though he’s produced while on the field, either: his .234/.333/.423 slash line (despite a .303 BABIP) is a far cry from his typical production, while his strikeout rate sits at a career-high 27.7%.

As for the Blue Jays, they’re at least likely to get Marcus Stroman and Steve Pearce back in the near future, as both are currently embarking on rehab assignments in the minor leagues.

Let’s take a look at some other injury situations around baseball…

  • Nate Rowan, beat reporter for the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate, tweets that Trevor May is headed to the DL with shoulder inflammation. The move is retroactive to June 14th. May’s only recently made his way back from Tommy John surgery, a recovery he wrote about for MLBTR; he was optioned to Triple-A immediately following his activation. There’s no word yet on the severity of the shoulder situation or how long May is expected to be out. In his most recent major league action, May pitched to a 5.27 ERA across 44 relief appearances for the Twins.
  • Another AL Central reliever received unfortunate news today as well. Nick Goody of the Indians visited Dr. James Andrews after feeling soreness during his throwing program. The diagnosis remains elbow hyperextension and posterior elbow inflammation, and though that’s far from the worst-case scenario, he’ll be shut down for at least three weeks after receiving a PRP injection. It’s bad news for an Indians club that has seen its bullpen go from the upper echelon in the league in 2017 to a bottom-dweller in 2018.
  • Braves reliever Josh Ravin (currently pitching for Triple-A Gwinnett) experienced a scare yesterday when he was struck in the face by a line drive. Ravin’s stable, however (at least enough so to tweet), and is set to be further evaluated on Sunday in Atlanta when the swelling goes down. The current diagnosis is five facial fractures and a concussion. Ravin has yet to allow a run in Gwinnett across 18 innings, during which time he’s struck out 30 batters and walked nine.
Amateur Draft Signings: 6/13/18 Wed, 13 Jun 2018 15:35:12 +0000 We’ll use this post to track Wednesday’s notable agreements from the top few rounds of the draft (rankings referenced are courtesy of Baseball AmericaMLB.comFangraphs and ESPN’s Keith Law — with the scouting reports from MLB and Fangraphs both coming free to the general public) …

  • Reds second-round pick Lyon Richardson scored a $2MM payday to forego his commitment to the University of Florida, per’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). That’s nearly half a million over the slot value ($1,520,300) for a player who has only recently emerged as a high-end pitching prospect.’s team was highest among major prospect outlets, ranking Richardson 67th on the basis of his ample upside as an athletic hurler who has shown big velocity despite unpolished mechanics.
  • The Yankees have announced a variety of signings, including deals with second-rounder Josh Breaux and third-rounder Ryder Green. These agreements were first reported by Callis (Twitter links), with the bonus values pinned down by Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter links). Breaux’s bonus of $1,497,500 handily tops his $1,086,900 slot value, while Green, too, receives an over-slot $997,500 bonus that exceeds his $576,400 slot value. All of the above lists include Breaux among the top 100 available prospects, with an increasingly promising bat and improving work behind the dish justifying the placement.
  • The Braves got second-round selection Greyson Jenista for a $1.2MM bonus that leaves them $250,500 of extra pool space to work with, Callis reports on Twitter. The Wichita State slugger received a fairly broad array of grades from prospect hounds, but the Fangraphs crew was highest. With big power and the ability to draw walks, but also plenty of swing-and-miss in his game, there’s a lot to like about the bat. One major question is whether Jenista will be able to work into being a reasonable defender in the corner outfield, or whether instead he’s destined for first base in the long run.
  • Second-rounder Alek Thomas will join the Diamondbacks rather than heading to TCU, as Callis also tweets. The deal includes a $1.2MM bonus that tops the $1,035,500 allocation that came with the 63rd overall draft slot. Law was quite bullish on the young outfielder, crediting him with “five-tool potential” and “an advanced feel on both sides of the ball.”
  • The Nationals have also agreed to terms with their second-round selection, UConn lefty Tim Cate, Callis adds on Twitter. It’s an at-slot, $986,200 bonus for the 65th overall choice of the draft. Best known for his big hook, Cate is an undersized hurler who has also had some worrying arm health questions crop up. Still, Baseball America ranked him 54th on its board, noting his “exceptional feel to land his breaking ball in the zone and bury it for swings and misses.”
  • Still another second-rounder, Florida Atlantic infielder Tyler Frank, will take home a $997,500 bonus from the Rays, per’s Jonathan Mayo (Twitter link). That leaves the Tampa Bay club with some extra funds to work with, as the 56th slot came with a $1,228,000 allocation. Also going under-slot were Royals second-rounder Jonathan Bowlan ($697,500 bonus vs. $1,168,300 slot) and Twins second-rounder Ryan Jeffers ($800K bonus vs. $1,140,600 slot), according to Callis (Twitter links)
Braves Designate Luke Jackson Wed, 13 Jun 2018 13:19:05 +0000 The Braves have designated right-hander Luke Jackson for assignment, per a club announcement. His roster spot will go to starter Mike Soroka, who has been activated from the 10-day DL.

Jackson, 26, has been on and off the Atlanta 40-man roster a few times already in the past two seasons. For the most part, other than exhibiting good velocity, he has not shown much cause to command a regular MLB job.

That said, Jackson has shown an intriguing increase in his strikeout rate thus far in 2018, recording nine strikeouts (and allowing just two hits) in 5 1/3 MLB innings and 34 more in his 21 1/3 frames at Triple-A. He has also doled out too many free passes, though, including four in his brief time this year in the majors.

We’ll see if another organization decides to give Jackson a look, or if he’ll strike out onto the open market if he clears waivers. Having been outrighted previously, he’ll have the right to decide.

Meanwhile, the Braves will gladly welcome back Soroka. The 20-year-old phenom ended up missing about a month with a shoulder injury. He’ll make his fourth MLB start today.

East Notes: Yankees, H. Harvey, Soroka, Cespedes Sun, 10 Jun 2018 02:44:12 +0000 It turns out top prospect Justus Sheffield might not be the next minor league pitcher in line to join the Yankees’ rotation, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports in his latest video that the club nearly promoted 23-year-old Jonathan Loaisiga for a spot start during a doubleheader, until rain altered their schedule. Rosenthal notes that Loaisiga had never pitched above Low-A ball until this season. It seems like he’s met little resistance this year, though, as he’s posted a 3.13 ERA this season while striking out 10.96 batters per nine against an equally impressive 1.17 walks per nine. Of course, plenty could change by the next time the Yankees need another starter. It’s certainly worth noting that promoting Sheffield last Monday might have improved his chances of making the Super Two cut, had he impressed enough to stick in the rotation from there on out. There will certainly be some entertaining suspense surrounding this situation from here forward.

Other items fresh off the East coast…

  • Orioles prospect Hunter Harvey was scratched from his most recent Double-A start due to a shoulder injury, Dan Connoly of reports. Harvey’s dealt with plenty of injury issues in his career already, and this latest case (described as “posterior shoulder instability) has left him on an unknown timetable to return to the rotation. Harvey also had Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow in 2016. Even when on the field, he hasn’t been particularly impressive this year. His 5.57 ERA across 32 1/3 innings on the season is an eyesore.
  • Rookie Mike Soroka is set to come off the DL and start Wednesday for the Braves, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. O’Brien adds that manager Brian Snitker plans to hold Soroka to a pitch count of 85-90. Soroka is widely considered to be one of the best right-handed pitching prospects in the game, and he’s backed that up by pitching to a 2.77 FIP in three starts this season while striking out more than a batter per inning.
  • Injury news isn’t looking so good for a division rival, however, as the MetsYoenis Cespedes reportedly left his rehab start tonight with tightness in his right quad. He’ll be re-evaluated tomorrow, but even a small setback is certainly discouraging; Cespedes has been riddled with injuries since signing a four-year, $110MM pact with New York following the 2016 season.
Ronald Acuna Could Return Next Weekend Sat, 09 Jun 2018 19:14:44 +0000 Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is progressing in his recovery from a sprained left ACL, Mark Bowman of explains, and could return as early as next weekend. The 20-year-old phenom, who went down May 27, would only miss around three weeks in that scenario. Acuna’s injury looked like a potential season-ender when it occurred, making his quick recovery all the more welcome for Atlanta. “What he’s doing right now is amazing after looking at what happened,” manager Brian Snitker said. “What he’s doing now is really good.”

Austin Riley To Miss Time With Sprained PCL Sat, 09 Jun 2018 13:37:06 +0000
  • Braves third base prospect Austin Riley is set to miss “several weeks” after suffering a sprained PCL in his right knee, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. The promising 21-year-old had been faring nicely in his first action at Triple-A, where he has slashed .284/.345/.431 in 113 plate appearances (with a 33.6 percent strikeout rate, however). It’s possible Riley’s injury could affect his chances at a major league promotion this season and influence the Braves’ trade deadline plans. Atlanta’s top two options at third are Johan Camargo and Ryan Flaherty, but both players’ numbers have fallen off as the season has progressed. In the event the Braves seek a veteran upgrade at the hot corner over the summer, there should be some proven commodities available, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd and Steve Adams pointed out Friday.
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    Braves Place Julio Teheran On DL, Select Luke Jackson Wed, 06 Jun 2018 00:06:31 +0000 The Braves announced that they’ve placed right-hander Julio Teheran on the 10-day disabled list due to a right thumb contusion and selected the contract of righty Luke Jackson to take his spot on the 25-man roster. Atlanta had an open spot on the 40-man, so the team didn’t need to make a corresponding move in that regard.

    Teheran, still just 27 years of age, is sporting a respectable 4.31 ERA on the season, though there’s plenty of reason to believe that he’s been fairly fortunate to maintain that mark. The right-hander’s average fastball velocity is down to a career-worst 89.3 mph, and he’s averaging a career-high 4.18 walks and 1.77 homers per nine innings pitched. Beyond that, Teheran’s chase rate and swinging-strike rate are down from his career levels, and he’s benefiting from a .225 BABIP and an 80.4 percent strand rate. Fielding-independent metrics like FIP, xFIP and SIERA all peg Teheran around 5.00 or higher.

    [Related: Updated Atlanta Braves depth chart]

    It’s not clear how long Teheran will miss, though there’s no indication that he’s expected to be out for a prolonged period. With off-days on June 7 and 11, the Braves can skip the fifth spot in their rotation and stick with current starters Sean Newcomb, Mike Foltynewicz, Brandon McCarthy and Anibal Sanchez. If they have to dip into their Triple-A ranks, Matt Wisler has already made three spot starts this season and could be the first line of defense to do so again. Max Fried and Lucas Sims are also starting in Triple-A and are on the 40-man roster, though they’ve been used primarily out of the ’pen in the Majors so far in 2018.

    As for Jackson, this’ll be the third time he’s been selected to the team’s 40-man roster this season. Atlanta has already outrighted Jackson on two occasions, but he’s stuck with the organization and will now embark on his third stint with the Major League team in 2018. The 26-year-old has surrendered two runs in 1 1/3 innings at the MLB level so far and posted a 4.62 ERA in 50 2/3 innings for the Braves last year. In 21 1/3 Triple-A frames so far in 2018, he’s pitched to a pristine 1.69 ERA with 34 strikeouts against 10 walks.

    Latest On Braves’ Jose Ramirez, Ronald Acuna Tue, 05 Jun 2018 03:59:57 +0000 The Braves have provided updates on the health of righty Jose Ramirez and outfielder Ronald Acuna, each of whom presently resides on the 10-day DL. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the news (Twitter links).

    Ramirez, 28, had been one of the team’s go-to late-inning arms in 2017, when he pitched to a 3.19 ERA in 62 innings. But he stumbled early in the current campaign, allowing a dozen earned runs in just 6 1/3 innings while issuing eight walks against seven strikeouts. Perhaps it wasn’t surprising when it turned out that Ramirez was dealing with a shoulder problem.

    Unfortunately, the progress made to date now appears to be at risk. Ramirez had been working back to form but was forced to halt his first live batting practice session today. It’s not clear at this point whether he’ll need to go back to resting or perhaps give throwing another go, but that’s obviously suboptimal news under the circumstances. Continued uncertainty surrounding Ramirez certainly enhances the Braves’ potential need for relievers at the deadline.

    As for Acuna, there’s still no reason to fear that he has a significant injury. But he’s still not leaping back to action quite as promptly as seemed possible in the wake of the scary knee hyperextension he suffered while running through the bag at first base.

    For the time being, Acuna is still just working on physical improvements. He may resume baseball activities as soon as next week, though that’s not written in stone. Notably, O’Brien adds that the team now anticipates that Acuna will require a rehab assignment. While the Braves are no doubt still grateful that Acuna somehow avoided a much more serious problem, it will likely still be a while before he’s back in action at the MLB level.

    Braves Outright Miguel Socolovich Sun, 03 Jun 2018 14:47:37 +0000 The Braves have outrighted right-handed reliever Miguel Socolovich to Triple-A Gwinnett, Mark Bowman of tweets. His 25-man roster spot will go to left-hander Luiz Gohara, whom the Braves reinstated from the bereavement list.

    Because Socolovich has been outrighted in the past (a few times since last season, in fact), he has the right to reject the assignment in favor of free agency. It seems he’ll accept it, though, and remain in the Atlanta organization. The 31-year-old Socolovich joined the Braves over the winter after spending the previous three seasons with the Cardinals.

    Socolovich had his moments in St. Louis, where he registered a 3.80 ERA with 7.73 K/9 and 2.58 BB/9 in 66 1/3 innings, though his performance dropped off significantly last season with an 8.68 ERA in 18 1/3 frames. His struggles have continued this year as a member of the Braves, with whom he has allowed six earned runs on eight hits and two walks (with four strikeouts) over five innings. Some of the damage came Saturday, when Socolovich took the loss against the Nationals. On the heels of that showing, he’ll head back to Gwinnett, where he has logged a 2.63 ERA, 7.88 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 24 innings this year.

    Mike Soroka Could Return June 16 Sun, 03 Jun 2018 02:35:03 +0000
  • Right-hander Mike Soroka could return to the Braves’ rotation as early as June 16, Mark Bowman of reports. Soroka, who has been on the disabled list since May 14 with shoulder inflammation, made a successful rehab start Friday at the Single-A level and will throw two more – the first with Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday. The 20-year-old rookie began his major league career in impressive fashion prior to the injury, tossing 14 2/3 innings of 3.68 ERA ball with 9.2 K/9 and 2.45 BB/9 over three starts.
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    Braves Select Peter Bourjos, Release Aaron Blair Thu, 31 May 2018 19:42:08 +0000 The Braves announced on Thursday that they’ve selected the contract of outfielder Peter Bourjos, who’ll return for a second stint with the big league club this season. To create room on the 40-man roster, Atlanta released right-hander Aaron Blair, who’d previously undergone season-ending shoulder surgery. Meanwhile, Dustin Peterson was optioned to Triple-A to create a spot on the 25-man roster for Bourjos’ return.

    Bourjos, 31, was on the Braves’ Opening Day roster after signing a Major League deal late in Spring Training, but he received sparse playing time in Atlanta before being designated for assignment, electing free agency and returning to the organization on a new minor league contract. He enjoyed a productive 24-game run in Triple-A Gwinnett between stints with the big league club, slashing .277/.352/.511 with a pair of homers, six doubles and five triples through 105 plate appearances.

    The fleet-footed Bourjos will give the Braves a backup option in center field behind Ender Inciarte — something they presently lack with Ronald Acuna on the 10-day disabled list. Preston Tucker and Charlie Culberson have been handling left field with Inciarte in center and Nick Markakis in right, and it’s not entirely clear how the Braves will adjust that mix once Acuna is able to return. Bourjos could be sent out again, but Culberson is only just now showing signs of life at the plate after a poor start, while Tucker hasn’t hit much at all since a hot first week of the season.

    As for Blair, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that the Braves will continue to pay for the right-hander’s rehab from shoulder surgery. It stands to reason that there’s a fair chance he’ll re-sign with the club on a new minor league deal where he can serve as a depth option in 2019 without occupying a spot on the big league 40-man roster.

    Braves To Place Ronald Acuna On DL Mon, 28 May 2018 17:29:52 +0000 Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna suffered a mild ACL sprain in his left knee and a lower back contusion on Sunday, Mark Bowman of was among those to report. The team will place Acuna on the disabled list and then re-evaluate him after the 10-day window.

    Acuna exited the Braves’ win over the Red Sox on Sunday with what looked to be a potentially catastrophic injury (video here), but it appears he’ll escape disaster. Given how dire the situation looked Sunday, Bowman notes that this could be a best-case scenario for Acuna and the Braves.

    The 20-year-old Acuna is only a little more than a month into his major league career, having joined the Braves with great fanfare on April 25. The all-world prospect justified the hype before landing on the DL, slashing .265/.326/.453 with five home runs in 129 plate appearances. He has also posted a .364 xwOBA, per Statcast, suggesting his actual wOBA (.332) has been a bit on the unlucky side.

    While Acuna may not miss significant time, it’s still unfortunate for the Braves that they’ll have to go without one of their key near- and long-term pieces for at least the next couple weeks. Atlanta, thanks in part to Acuna and many other highly talented 20-somethings, owns the National League’s second-best record (30-21) and a half-game lead in the NL East. They’ll turn a starting outfield spot back to Preston Tucker, who occupied one alongside Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis prior to Acuna’s promotion (depth chart).

    Poll: Which Surprise Team Has Best Shot At Playoff Berth? Mon, 28 May 2018 15:55:54 +0000 As the 2018 MLB season nears the one-third mark, the playoff races in each league are beginning to take shape. While it’s no surprise that the majority of the sport’s so-called super teams have lived up to the billing thus far, several unexpected contenders may be emerging to challenge for postseason berths. None of the Mariners, Athletics, Braves, Phillies or Pirates were popular playoff picks entering the campaign, but all are in contention at this point, and a few of those teams even possess elite records.

    The most successful of those clubs has been Seattle, which is one of just five teams with a winning percentage above .600. The Mariners have raced to a 32-20 mark (.615), the fourth-best record in the American League, even though they’ve had to go without superstar second baseman Robinson Cano for two weeks and won’t get him back in the near future. Cano suffered a fractured right hand in mid-May, but the 80-game suspension he incurred almost immediately after that injury is the more costly blow because it’ll render him ineligible for the playoffs – if the Mariners qualify, that is.

    A postseason berth for Seattle would be its first since 2001, thus snapping the longest playoff drought in American sports. There’s clearly plenty of work for that to happen, particularly for a team that hasn’t been spectacular statistically and possesses a less shiny 27-25 Pythagorean record. But the Mariners’ actual record right now is so impressive that they won’t need to be great from here on out to remain firmly in the mix throughout the regular season. FanGraphs is projecting a mediocre 56-54 win-loss total over the Mariners’ final 110 games, but even in that scenario, they’d finish with 88 victories – three more than Minnesota amassed in 2017 en route to an AL wild-card berth.

    The wild card is likely the M’s only path to the playoffs, as even though they’re just one game out of the AL West race, there’s little question the reigning World Series champion Astros will pull away with the division. Given the talent in the AL, a wild-card spot will be tough to come by for the Mariners, but general manager Jerry Dipoto seemingly increased his team’s odds last week when he acquired reliever Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span from the Rays. The Mariners already owned one of baseball’s best bullpens without Colome, and his presence should make Seattle an even harder out in close games. At 15-8, the Mariners have been one of the majors’ top teams in one-run contests this season.

    Staying in the AL West, Oakland has perhaps exceeded expectations at 28-25, though it has scored fewer runs than it has allowed (234 to 237). Still, despite its underwhelming Pythagorean mark (26-27), FanGraphs is projecting an above-.500 final record for Oakland (82-80) – which would be its first such season since 2014 and could keep it in the discussion into September. However, with the Yankees or Red Sox (whichever team doesn’t win the AL East), Angels and Mariners among the teams fighting for two wild-card positions, a playoff position looks a bit unrealistic for the A’s.

    Over in the National League, both the Braves (30-21) and Phillies (29-21) have gone from serving as longtime NL East doormats to looking like two of the premier teams in the game. Milwaukee, arguably a surprise team but one that did garner some preseason hype after winning 86 games in 2017, is the lone NL club with a superior record to Atlanta and Philadelphia. And only the Cubs have a better run differential than the Braves, who have outscored their opponents by 60 (261 to 201).

    The Braves’ arduous, years-long rebuild is clearly paying dividends now, as a host of players under the age of 25 – including Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna (who’s now on the DL), Dansby Swanson, Sean Newcomb, Mike Soroka, Luiz Gohara and A.J. Minter – have been among their driving forces this year. With that group joining a few slightly older, already established players (superstar Freddie Freeman, Ender Inciarte and Mike Foltynewicz, to name a few), Atlanta looks as if it’s going to be around for a long time. And it might be ready now to return to the playoffs, where it hasn’t been since 2013, though the NL East is going to be a dogfight with both the Phillies and favored Nationals (29-22) right behind the Braves.

    As for those Phillies, they own an even longer playoff drought than the Braves (six years), but that streak doesn’t look as if it’ll last much longer. Like Atlanta, Philadelphia went through a few years of suffering while simultaneously managing to stockpile young talent (Aaron Nola, Odubel Herrera, Rhys Hoskins, Seranthony Dominguez, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Scott Kingery) that has either already established itself in the majors or is in the midst of doing so. Philly’s also a sleeping giant in terms of payroll, a club capable of spending alongside other big-money juggernauts, and it’ll put that advantage to use in the coming years. It already started last winter with the expensive free-agent signings of Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana, two additions which have paid off so far (Santana did endure a poor April, but he’s gotten off the mat this month).

    As with the Braves, the Phillies should be around for a while, and a playoff spot this year certainly isn’t out of the question. Although, despite their tremendous starts, FanGraphs is projecting both teams to finish with 82 wins and extend their playoff droughts.

    Baseball’s other Pennsylvania-based team, the low-payroll Pirates, lost the battle for public opinion over the winter when they traded two veteran cornerstones (Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole) for younger players and didn’t sign any free agents to major league contracts. Some Pirates fans even called for owner Bob Nutting to sell the team in the wake of those deals, but he didn’t oblige.

    Now, the Pirates are a solid 28-24 (plus-22 run) and have gotten there with some help from Colin Moran and Joe Musgrove, two players acquired in the Cole package. Fellow offseason acquisition Corey Dickerson – whom general manager Neal Huntington stole from the Rays in another trade – has been even better, while veteran holdovers Starling Marte and Francisco Cervelli are also amid excellent seasons. Pittsburgh may be able to hang in the race all year, then, for the first time since 2015 – its most recent playoff berth. It’s going to be an extremely tall task to actually return to the postseason, though, with six NL teams – including the division-rival Brewers, Cubs and Cardinals – ahead of Pittsburgh in the standings and several more breathing down its neck.

    Every year in baseball, surprise teams emerge to upset the preseason apple cart. Just as the Twins, Diamondbacks and Rockies crashed the playoff party last year, at least one of the Mariners, Athletics, Braves, Phillies or Pirates could do it in 2018. The question is: Which team has the best chance to play into the fall?

    (poll link for app users)

    Potential Braves Trade Deadline Targets Sun, 27 May 2018 23:36:33 +0000
  • Given the Braves’ third base vacancy, Rosenthal believes the team “will at least check in on Manny Machado” prior to the trade deadline.  Machado would seem like a perfect fit for an Atlanta team that is looking to stay in the postseason race, plus his impending free agency wouldn’t make him a long-term block at the hot corner for top prospect Austin Riley.  Acquiring Machado from the Orioles would require a heavy prospect cost, however, and Rosenthal wonders if the Braves might instead use their minor leaguers to acquire a frontline starting pitcher, since they’ll be pursuing such an arm anyway in the offseason.  The Braves’ prospect capital could also be used to try and pry J.T. Realmuto away from the Marlins, as Realmuto would provide a longer-term answer behind the plate than the Braves’ veteran tandem of Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Flowers (who are both free agents this winter).
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    Braves Awaiting Word On Ronald Acuna's Health Sun, 27 May 2018 20:22:27 +0000 Braves uber-prospect Ronald Acuna left the team’s game Sunday in Boston with knee and lower-back pain, the team announced. The 20-year-old outfielder exited in the seventh inning after suffering a gruesome-looking injury (video via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports), though he eventually was able to walk off the field on his own power, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. Acuna’s currently undergoing an exam at a nearby clinic, O’Brien tweets. The up-and-coming  Braves and the baseball world in general are holding their breath that isn’t a serious injury for the exciting Acuna, who has emerged as one of the game’s best rookies and a key part of a playoff contender.

    Injury Notes: Gomez, Sanchez, Marte, Bird, Prado Sat, 26 May 2018 16:35:44 +0000 Rays outfielder Carlos Gomez has been activated from the 10-day disabled list; he’d been sidelined since May 16th with a strained groin. The injury was thought to be minor at the time, and the fact that Gomez missed only the ten-day minimum leaves little room to doubt his health at this time. That doesn’t mean his performance comes without questions, though, as the veteran is slashing just .200/.252/.345 on the season. No corresponding move was required for Tampa Bay, as their roster was two men short following yesterday’s surprising trade with Seattle.

    And now a flurry of other injury-related items from around the league…

    • David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggests that Anibal Sanchez could be the Braves’ starter on Tuesday following a successful rehab start on Friday. Mark Bowman of takes it a step further by quoting manager Brian Snitker, who reportedly said that Sanchez is indeed penciled in to start Tuesday’s game. Sanchez has a 1.29 ERA in three appearances (two starts) on the season.
    • Adam Berry of writes that Starling Marte will be activated from the DL by the Pirates today if he reports to the ballpark feeling ready to play. It’d be a remarkably quick return for the 29-year-old outfielder, who has been sidelined with an oblique injury. Injuries of that type have a reputation for lingering and causing players to miss extended time. One has to wonder what Marte’s potential activation would mean for the red-hot Austin Meadows, who’s managed more homers in the big leagues thus far (3) than strikeouts (2).
    • The Yankees have reinstated first baseman Greg Bird from the disabled list, optioning infielder Ronald Torreyes to Triple-A in a corresponding move. Marc Carig of The Athletic notes that the move makes plenty of sense considering the versatility of Gleyber Torres and the fact that a removal of Neil Walker from the roster isn’t reversible. Bird entered the season with plenty of hype surrounding him, but has yet to make his 2018 debut thanks to right foot surgery.
    • In a move that was widely expected, the Marlins placed Martin Prado (hamstring) on the 10-day DL today, recalling J.T. Riddle from Triple-A to take his place on the roster. It’s the latest in an unfortunate series of injuries for the formerly-durable Prado, who made only 147 trips to the plate last year following eight straight seasons with at least 500 PA.
    Quick Hits: Colon, Bibens-Dirkx, Odor, Rangers, Anthopoulos, Bae Sat, 26 May 2018 14:22:27 +0000 Timeless right-hander Bartolo Colon celebrated his 45th birthday this week, so he’ll soon become just the 18th player in major league history to pitch in the majors beyond that benchmark. Colon is also the oldest to hurl a pitch since Jamie Moyer back in 2012. Value metrics are divided on his effectiveness so far this season; Baseball Reference pegs his contributions at 1.6 WAR, while Fangraphs believes his 2018 production to be exactly replacement level. In any case, it would have been difficult at season’s outset to imagine Colon exceeding his current results. A 3.51 ERA and 7.20 K/BB ratio are welcome numbers to a Rangers rotation that sports the sixth-highest combined ERA in major-league baseball.

    It’ll be fun to see just how long Colon can keep up this pace. But in the meantime, here are some minor notes from last night…

    • In other Rangers news, Jeff Wilson of the Star Telegram examines the job security of a pitcher and a position player in Arlington. Austin Bibens-Dirkx pitched well on the whole in his last start (though he was a victim of some bad fielding behind him), Wilson notes that the club is more likely to give Matt Moore a longer look before ceding his spot in the rotation to Bibens-Dirkx. Meanwhile, Wilson notes that struggling second baseman Rougned Odor has two options remaining. With Jurickson Profar putting together quality at-bats of late, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa producing at a better clip than Odor, there’s a chance the club might consider letting the latter work out his issues in the minors.
    • In a subscription-only piece for The Athletic, Bill Shaikin examines the storyline of Alex Anthopoulos leaving the Dodgers organization to run a Braves club that’s currently leading the NL East. While Anthopoulos felt like he had “as good a job as there was in baseball” with the Dodgers, his reshaping of the Braves’ payroll has helped to set them up for success as they near the end of a lengthy rebuild. Trades of Jim Johnson, Matt Kemp and some international bonus pool money shipped to the Angels has set the stage for Atlanta to complement its young core through free agency and perhaps even the midseason trade market.
    • Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette provides an update on Pirates prospect Bae Ji-hwan via Twitter. Bae is reportedly on his way back to the United States after cooperating with police in South Korea on suspicion of a domestic violence incident. He’ll be allowed to participate in baseball activities pending the outcome of an investigation into said incident. Bae was one of a few players that the Braves reportedly offered “extra-contractual compensation” recently and were thus barred from signing in the last international signing period.
    Braves Had Offseason Interest In Lorenzo Cain Mon, 21 May 2018 01:25:11 +0000
  • Speaking of winter what-ifs, Heyman adds the Mariners, Braves, and Dodgers to the list of teams that had interest in signing Lorenzo Cain before the center fielder inked a deal with the Brewers.  Seattle had a clear need for center field help prior to the Dee Gordon trade, though the other two wouldn’t seem to be obvious fits on paper for Cain’s services.  The Braves already have Ender Inciarte in center, plus they needed to trade Matt Kemp to make room for Ronald Acuna’s eventual promotion; potentially, Cain could’ve been a fit if Atlanta had managed to trade Nick Markakis (and then convince Cain to shift to right field).  For the Dodgers, signing Cain would have run counter to their plan of getting under the luxury tax threshold, plus L.A. would’ve had to give up two draft picks and $1MM in international bonus pool funds as compensation for signing Cain.  It’s also possible, of course, that both the Braves and Dodgers merely had a due diligence-type of interest in Cain given that his free agent stint stretched into late January.

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    Cafardo: Braves Could Pursue Mike Moustakas Sun, 20 May 2018 21:59:18 +0000
  • “There’s a growing feeling among talent evaluators” that the Braves will go after Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, according to Cafardo. That may have become even more likely Sunday when the Braves ended their brief Jose Bautista experiment, though they’re bent on giving Johan Camargo a serious look at third base for the time being. Regardless, Moustakas does seem like a strong bet to finish the season outside of Kansas City, which is rebuilding and doesn’t have him under contract beyond this season (there is a $15MM mutual option, however). Moustakas is making a very reasonable salary ($5.5MM) and enjoying a terrific year at the plate, having slashed .294/.333/.528 with 10 long balls in 195 PAs.

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    Braves Release Jose Bautista Sun, 20 May 2018 14:12:44 +0000 The Braves have released third baseman Jose Bautista, Mark Bowman of tweets. In a corresponding move, the club recalled right-hander Lucas Sims from Triple-A to fill its vacant roster spot.

    The Bautista experiment was a short-lived one for Atlanta, which signed the former superstar to a minor league deal on April 18. The move reunited Bautista with Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who was the Blue Jays’ GM for some of the slugger’s highly successful tenure in Toronto. Bautista was primarily an outfielder during that period, but the Braves signed him to line up at third – a position he hadn’t played extensively since 2011.

    To the 37-year-old Bautista’s credit, he worked his way to the Braves rather quickly, as they selected his contract on May 4. However, the six-time All-Star was unproductive in his two-plus weeks with the first-place club, hitting .143/.250/.343 with a 30 percent strikeout rate over a small sample of 40 plate appearances. And unsurprisingly, he also drew negative marks (minus-2 Defensive Runs Saved, minus-0.3 Ultimate Zone Rating) in his return to the hot corner, albeit over just 61 innings.

    Although Bautista did display some of his signature power (two home runs, .200 ISO) as a Brave and post a respectable 12.5 percent walk rate, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever receive another big league opportunity. Not only has Bautista’s once-great offensive game fallen off a cliff since the end of the 2016 campaign, but he no longer seems capable of providing any value in the field or on the bases. Nevertheless, Bautista isn’t ready to retire, according to Anthopoulos, who added that the Braves would welcome him back at the Triple-A level if he’s interested in returning to Gwinnett (via David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

    With Bautista out of the picture in Atlanta, the club will turn to Johan Camargo as its everyday third baseman, Anthopoulos revealed (per O’Brien). Along with the 24-year-old Camargo, who has logged above-average offensive results since debuting last season, the Braves have Ryan Flaherty, Charlie Culberson, Phil Gosselin and Rio Ruiz on hand as 40-man fallback options. The most talented third baseman in the organization may be 21-year-old prospect Austin Riley, who just ascended to Triple-A and could perhaps reach the majors at some point this season.

    In the event Riley doesn’t debut this year and the Braves don’t receive quality production from their veteran third basemen in the coming months, they may opt for an upgrade via trade. The up-and-coming Braves look as if they’ll remain in contention through the July 31 trade deadline, even though it’s still a ways off, and there should be some significant talent available then. Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson (whom Anthopoulos previously acquired in Toronto), Adrian Beltre and Mike Moustakas are among those who could pique the Braves’ interest in the next couple months.

    Braves Activate Dansby Swanson, Option Matt Wisler Sat, 19 May 2018 15:36:13 +0000 The Braves have activated shortstop Dansby Swanson from the 10-day disabled list. In a corresponding move, they’ve optioned Matt Wisler to Triple-A Gwinnett.

    Swanson hit the DL earlier this month due to left wrist inflammation. He was off to a solid start, hitting .289/.336/.430 prior to the injury, and the Braves will surely be hoping he can build on those numbers after a somewhat up-and-down start to his major league career. The former number one overall pick produced at about replacement level last season (according to fWAR) after a hot debut at the tail end of the 2016 season.

    Swanson’s activation is likely to impact the playing time of Johan Camargo, Jose Bautista or both. Bautista has certainly been unimpressive to this point, posting a .143/.250/.343 slash line and serving as a defensive liability, but it’s fair to think he might get a longer look in the Braves’ lineup. Perhaps, then, Johan Camargo could slide into a utility role while the club waits to see if Bautista can heat up to his career norms.

    Wisler has been shuttled back and forth multiple times already this season, most recently pitching 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball while striking out five Marlins. Once highly regarded enough to serve as the key return piece in the Craig Kimbrel trade, Wisler hasn’t lived up to expectations and now appears to be little more than a depth piece as multiple young starters have seemingly leapfrogged him on the depth chart.

    Braves Release Ezequiel Carrera Thu, 17 May 2018 23:11:54 +0000 The Braves released outfielder Ezequiel Carrera from the organization, per an announcement from the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett. Carrera was released by the Blue Jays in Spring Training and joined the Braves on a minor league pact later that month. He’ll now once again survey his options on the open market.

    Carrera, 30, was reasonably productive for the Blue Jays in a part-time role from 2016-17, hitting a combined .266/.340/.382 with 14 homers and 17 steals in 635 plate appearances. He has experience at all three outfield slots, though defensive metrics generally view his center-field work in a negative light while looking more favorably on his work in the corners.

    This season has been a struggle for Carrera, however. In 93 plate appearances for Gwinnett, he limped to a .146/.228/.220 slash. On the plus side for Carrera, he went 7-for-7 in steals in Triple-A, and much of his difficulty looks to be the product of a .177 average on balls in play. His 21 percent strikeout rate and 10 percent walk rate both suggest that his approach at the plate isn’t markedly different from recent seasons, and given his career .275/.344/.368 line in parts of nine Triple-A seasons, it’s reasonable to expect that he’ll bounce back over a larger sample of at-bats.

    Braves Place Mike Soroka On 10-Day DL, Recall Max Fried Thu, 17 May 2018 18:24:14 +0000 The Braves have placed young righty Mike Soroka on the 10-day DL with a right shoulder strain, per a club announcement. The placement is retroactive to May 14th. His scheduled start tonight will instead be taken by Max Fried, who has been recalled.

    That’s not the news the Braves were hoping for with a prized young hurler, though perhaps the team is just exercising precaution.’s Mark Bowman tweets that the club believes he could be able to return in time to make his next scheduled start, which would presumably mean coming off of the DL after the minimum absence.

    Soroka, one of the Atlanta roster’s slate of fascinating twenty-year-old talents, has impressed through three MLB starts. He carries a 3.68 ERA in 14 2/3 innings, with underlying peripherals (9.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 42.9% groundball rate) that suggest he’s more than ready for the majors. Though it was not certain when he came up whether he’d stick, it now seems reasonable to anticipate he’ll be in the majors to stay so long as he remains healthy.

    For the time being, though, it’ll be Fried who gets the chance. The 24-year-old has made four relief appearances on the year in the majors but also took three starts at Triple-A. At his best, Fried can generate grounders and strikeouts in much the same manner Soroka has, though the southpaw has long handed out too many free passes and is not considered as promising as the man he’ll substitute for.

    Braves Claim Chad Bell Tue, 15 May 2018 18:27:04 +0000 The Braves have claimed lefty Chad Bell off waivers from the Tigers, per announcements from the teams. He had been designated for assignment recently by the Tigers.

    Bell, 29, has been knocked around in 69 2/3 MLB innings over the past two seasons. He has worked mostly as a reliever in the majors but has started for the most part in the minors. Odds are he’ll be seen as a lefty specialist or long relief possibility in Atlanta. Bell will presumably begin his tenure there on optional assignment.

    Braves Release Christian Colon Mon, 14 May 2018 15:00:50 +0000 The Braves released infielder Christian Colon from their Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett recently, per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy. The former Royals and Marlins infielder will return to the open market in search of a new opportunity with another organization.

    Colon, 29, was the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft and has spent parts of the past four seasons in the Majors — most recently logging 57 plate appearances with the Marlins in 2017. Despite being selected out of college (Cal State Fullerton, to be specific), Colon took awhile to reach the Majors but turned in solid numbers in his first couple of seasons upon arriving. In 168 plate appearances from 2014-15, he slashed .303/.361/.382.

    However, Colon’s lack of power became more glaring a year later when his fortune on balls in play took a turn for the worst and his strikeout rate escalated from just 12.5 percent to 19.3 percent. From 2016-17, he posted an ugly .213/.279/.264 batting line in 218 PAs between the Royals and Marlins.

    Colon got off to a disappointing .204/.278/.204 start with Gwinnett, though that came in a tiny sample of just 55 plate appearances. His overall body of work in parts of seven seasons at the Triple-A level is considerably more encouraging, as he’s batted .287/.350/.384 in 1520 plate appearances. That track record, in addition to his experience at second base, shortstop and third base, should allow him to land with another club in need of some infield depth in the upper minors.

    Braves Outright Luke Jackson, Recall Luiz Gohara Tue, 08 May 2018 18:50:05 +0000 The Braves announced today that they have outrighted righty Luke Jackson. Taking his place on the active roster is southpaw Luiz Gohara, who’ll return to the majors for the first time in 2018.

    Jackson, 26, has already been up and down this season, making just two MLB appearances while active. It seems he has accepted his outright assignment, meaning he’ll be available if and when a need arises in the future. He has allowed four earned runs with a 13:6 K/BB ratio in his 9 1/3 Triple-A innings on the year.

    As for Gohara, this’ll be his second look at the game’s highest level. He endured a rough offseason and spring, marked by injury and personal loss, and opened the year in the minors — first on a rehab assignment and then on option. The results haven’t been to his typical standards thus far, as he has allowed 22 hits (five of them homers), a dozen earned runs, and ten walks against fifteen strikeouts in his 15 2/3 total innings.

    Clearly, the Braves believe Gohara can return to his former trajectory. He was outstanding at all levels in 2018, including a five-start MLB run in which he allowed 4.91 earned per nine but also recorded an impressive 9.5 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9. Gohara averaged 97.0 mph with his fastball and posted a 13.4% swinging-strike rate in the majors. It seems clear that the team still views him as a future rotation piece, but he’ll spend some time in the bullpen for the time being, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted yesterday on Twitter.

    Braves Likely To Keep Mike Soroka In Rotation Mon, 07 May 2018 04:58:44 +0000
  • Braves pitching prospect Mike Soroka’s second career MLB start wasn’t nearly as impressive as his first, as Soroka allowed four earned runs over four innings today against the Giants.  Manager Brian Snitker told’s Mark Bowman (Twitter link) and other media that Soroka is scheduled to make his next start, with an implication being that Atlanta isn’t planning to demote the 20-year-old anytime soon.  Anibal Sanchez is still sidelined with a hamstring injury, and will likely be moved to relief pitching when he returns so the Braves can give Soroka a fuller look in his first taste of the majors.
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    Braves Promote Austin Riley To Triple-A Sun, 06 May 2018 21:30:34 +0000
  • Braves third base prospect Austin Riley is getting closer to the majors. The Braves promoted the 21-year-old from Double-A to Triple-A on Sunday, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Riley, whom multiple outlets ranks as a top 100 prospect, slashed an incredible .333/.394/.677 (193 wRC+) with six home runs in 109 plate appearances at Double-A this year. He might push for the Braves’ starting third base job as early as next season, per O’Brien.
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    Braves Select Luke Jackson's Contract Sun, 06 May 2018 16:01:06 +0000
  • The Braves have selected right-hander Luke Jackson’s contract from Triple-A and optioned fellow righty Lucas Sims, Gabe Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. Jackson’s now back on Atlanta’s 40-man roster after the club outrighted him two weeks ago. The 26-year-old appeared in two of the Braves’ games this season before they booted him from their roster, allowing two earned runs on two walks and one hit in 1 1/3 innings. Jackson has experienced some success in the minors this year, on the other hand, having pitched to a 3.86 ERA with 12.54 K/9, 5.79 BB/9 and a 50 percent groundball rate across 9 1/3 frames.
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    NL Notes: Harvey, Braves, Rendon, Hedges, Lamb, Reyes Sat, 05 May 2018 03:54:01 +0000 After deciding to designate Matt Harvey for assignment, the Mets are now sorting out exactly how his tenure with the organization will come to an end. Initial trade discussions seem not to be generating much traction, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter), who says that the team is offering to “eat a significant amount” of the remainder of Harvey’s salary in hopes of securing something in return. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the response from rival officials has to this point been that they’d prefer simply to pursue Harvey if he passes through waivers. If that occurs, he’ll surely either be released or decline an outright assignment, at which point he’d be a free agent who could sign for a pro-rated version of the league minimum, leaving the Mets on the hook for the balance of the $5.6MM he’s owed.

    More from the National League:

    • New Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos has been discussing his team’s promising start with quite a few outlets of late as excitement has mounted. He largely credited the prior regime with “outstanding” work in accumulating and developing talent in a chat with Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Anthopoulos also says he’ll be “open-minded to do things” if the team is in position to push for the postseason at the trade deadline, though he notes there’s still quite a lot of baseball to be played before making any final assessments of where the 2018 roster may be headed. In comments to MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (via Twitter), Anthopoulos did note that payroll constraints and an ongoing focus on the future would continue to weigh significantly in the team’s decisionmaking.
    • Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon acknowledged after his rehab appearance today that he has a hairline fracture in his injured toe, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post tweets. That explains his somewhat extended absence after fouling a ball off of his foot. The important thing for the Nats, though, is that Rendon seems to be ready to be activated as the club attempts to extend a six-game winning streak.
    • The Padres have a plan in place for assessing the balky elbow of catcher Austin Hedges, as Dennis Lin of The Athletic reports on Twitter. He’ll be given a week or ten days of rest before it’s decided whether he needs to undergo an MRI. Hedges hit the DL recently with a bout of tendinitis. It seems the hope remains that the issue will resolve itself with some down time. Hedges has struggled at the plate in 2018, hitting at a .173/.235/.293 clip to open the season.
    • Diamondbacks third baseman Jake Lamb received an MRI and cortisone shot after reporting continued discomfort in his injured left shoulder, per’s Steve Gilbert (Twitter links). That said, the belief is that this will not constitute a significant setback. It’s still disappointing to hear that Lamb is not yet back to health, as the club no doubt hoped he’d already be nearing a return at this point. Given his extended absence, it stands to reason that he’ll require some rehab time once he is cleared for game action. Fortunately for the Snakes, Daniel Descalso has filled in admirably.
    • Prized Cardinals righty Alex Reyes is prepared to begin a rehab assignment next week, as’s Joe Trezza writes. As he works back from Tommy John surgery, the high-octane hurler is said to be working in the upper nineties and looking good. That’s great news for the Cards, though the team is expected to handle Reyes with care as he ramps up fully. It’s still not clear how the organization will deploy the 23-year-old, who showed ample promise in his 2016 debut, once he is ready to return. But he’s building up as a starter and figures to be a valuable addition to the MLB roster in any role when he is activated.
    Braves Place Dansby Swanson On 10-Day DL Fri, 04 May 2018 23:04:35 +0000 The Braves have placed shortstop Dansby Swanson on the 10-day DL with left wrist inflammation, per a team announcement. He’ll be replaced by outfielder Preston Tucker, who was only just optioned way earlier today.

    It doesn’t seem as if the move was made out of concern that Swanson has suffered a significant injury. Manager Brian Snitker suggested today that the belief is Swanson’s wrist is “structurally sound,” per’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter).

    That’s generally good news, then, for the Braves. The team’s encouraging overall start has been matched — and driven, in no small part — by Swanson’s own first month. Coming off of a rough 2017 effort at the plate, he was something of a question mark entering the current campaign.

    To this point, Swanson has fulfilled the promise he showed as a former first overall draft pick who sprined through the minors. He’s off to a .289/.336/.430 start through 122 plate appearances, with two home runs and two stolen bases. Defensive metrics are also smiling on Swanson’s efforts in the field after awarding him marginal grades in 2017.

    That said, Swanson still has some issues to overcome on the offensive side. He has benefited thus far from a .388 batting average on balls in play that’s sure to decline. Swanson has thus far taken a more aggressive approach than in the past, with his swing rate (48.5%) and swinging-strike rate (11.2%) both easily topping his prior levels. He’s drawing walks in just 5.7% of his plate appearances, well shy of the 10.7% rate he carried last year, while going down on strikeouts more than ever before (26.2%). It remains to be seen how things will shake out as pitchers react to this changed approach and Swanson, in turn, responds.

    As for Tucker, he was eligible to return in advance of the usual 10-day waiting period since he was replacing an injured player. It’s fair to wonder, though, whether he’ll remain on the MLB roster for long. There isn’t a rush for another infielder — Johan Camargo can slide to short, with Charlie Culberson and Ryan Flaherty still available off the bench — but the organization had already decided it preferred an alignment that did not include Tucker. He could head back to Gwinnett when Swanson is activated, if not sooner — if, say, the Braves decide to promote just-claimed utilityman Philip Gosselin.

    Braves Select Jose Bautista’s Contract, Option Preston Tucker Fri, 04 May 2018 18:38:29 +0000 1:38pm: The Braves have now announced that Bautista’s contract has been select. Outfielder Preston Tucker was optioned to Triple-A to open a spot on the active roster for Bautista.

    After a blistering start to the season, Tucker’s bat has unsurprisingly come back down to Earth in recent weeks. He’s posted a .218/.246/.364 slash over his past 57 plate appearances with the Braves.

    9:32am: David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets that the Braves are adding Bautista to the MLB roster today.

    9:24am: The Braves are expected to add Jose Bautista to their lineup tonight, reports Mark Bowman of (via Twitter). Atlanta will need to formally select the contract of Bautista, who signed a minor league deal with the Braves last month. Atlanta announced in April that the longtime Blue Jays star will play third base in their organization. The Braves currently have three openings on the 40-man roster, so they’ll only need to make a corresponding 25-man roster move to add Bautista.

    Bautista, of course, was primarily a third baseman before breaking out with the Jays and settling in as their right fielder for the better part of a decade. He’s played just 38 innings at the position in the four years prior to signing with Atlanta, however, all of which came last year in Toronto. Bautista hasn’t seen even semi-regular action at the hot corner since 2011, and even then he logged just 205 innings at the position in that entire season.

    The 37-year-old slugger has gotten off to a solid start with Atlanta’s top affiliate, hitting .250/.386/.361 with a homer, a double and six walks against eight strikeouts through 44 plate appearances. As Bowman notes, the home run and double came within the past few days, as Bautista’s bat has begun to heat up a bit as he’s shaken off some of the rust after sitting out Spring Training entirely.

    Bautista will be looking to rebound from a dreary 2017 season in which he hit just .203/.308/.366. While Bautista still slugged 23 homers and walked at an above-average 12.2 percent clip, his strikeout rate jumped to a career-worst 24.8 percent as his contact rate plummeted from 80.2 percent to 73.3 percent. The biggest flaw for Bautista was a sudden inability to hit fastballs; a career .246/.374/.519 hitter against four-seamers, Bautista flailed ineffectively at four-seam fastballs in 2017, hitting just .198/.294/.365 against them.

    Braves Claim Phil Gosselin From Reds Thu, 03 May 2018 18:21:23 +0000 The Braves announced this afternoon that they’ve claimed infielder Phil Gosselin off waivers from the Reds and assigned him to Triple-A Gwinnett. Atlanta had open space on its 40-man roster, so there’s no corresponding move necessary with Gosselin’s claim.

    This will mark Gosselin’s second stint with the Atlanta organization, as the Braves were the club to initially select him out of the University of Virginia in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. Gosselin went on to make his Major League debut for the Braves three years later, and in parts of three seasons with Atlanta, he slashed .282/.321/.345 through 185 trips to the plate.

    Since being traded to the Braves in the deal that saw Atlanta effectively purchase pitching prospect Touki Toussaint from the D-backs by absorbing the remainder of Bronson Arroyo’s contract, Gosselin has spent time in Arizona, Pittsburgh, Texas and Cincinnati. All told, he’s a lifetime .263/.314/.361 hitter that’ll provide the Braves with some depth at second base, shortstop and third base while playing at the Triple-A level.

    Rangers Claim Carlos Perez From Braves Wed, 02 May 2018 20:27:07 +0000 The Rangers announced that they’ve claimed catcher Carlos Perez off waivers from the Braves. Texas has opened a 40-man roster spot by transferring injured shortstop Elvis Andrus from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL. That move seemingly carries little impact on Andrus’ timetable for a return from an elbow fracture, as he was widely expected to miss around eight weeks with the injury anyhow. As Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets, Andrus can be activated on June 11.

    Texas didn’t immediately reveal a corresponding 25-man roster move, as executive VP of communications John Blake indicated that said move will be announced tomorrow. However, it seems unlikely that the Rangers would carry three catchers on the big league roster, and Perez is out of minor league options, so it’s fair to speculate that current backup catcher Juan Centeno’s spot could be in jeopardy. It’s also possible, of course, that one of Centeno or Robinson Chirinos is dealing with a yet-undisclosed injury and could land on the disabled list, thus prompting the Texas organization to pick up some additional depth behind the dish.

    Perez, 27, was traded from the Angels to the Braves on March 31 in the wake of an injury to Atlanta catcher Tyler Flowers. He appeared in eight games with the Braves but went just 3-for-21 with a walk and six strikeouts in 22 trips to the plate. That lack of production mirrors Perez’s meager output from a near-identical sample of 21 plate appearances in 2017 with the Halos. Overall, he’s hit just .122/.163/.195 over the past two seasons and .221/.264/.325 in a total of 617 big league plate appearances.

    Of course, Perez’s calling card is his glovework behind the dish. The Venezuelan-born backstop has successfully halted 38 percent of stolen-base attempts against him at the big league level and has drawn generally positive marks for both his pitch-framing and pitch-blocking skills, per Baseball Prospectus.

    It’s been an ugly start to the season for the season for the 28-year-old Centeno, which only makes it easier to speculate on his potential dismissal. He’s posted a tepid .147/.171/.176 slash in 35 plate appearances as the backup to Chirinos, and while he’s yet to have an opponent attempt a steal against him, Centeno has just a 13 percent caught-stealing rate as a Major League catcher.

    Braves Re-Sign Peter Bourjos To Minor League Deal Tue, 01 May 2018 23:38:33 +0000 The Braves re-signed outfielder Peter Bourjos to a new minor league contract after releasing him over the weekend, the team’s Triple-A affiliate announced. Outfielder Jaff Decker was released to open a spot. Bourjos is represented by Dishman Sports Group. He’ll remain on hand as a depth option for the Braves after opening the year on their big league roster.

    Bourjos, 31, hit just .120/.185/.160 in a minuscule sample of 27 plate appearances, starting only two of the 18 games in which he appeared for Atlanta. He’ll head to Triple-A Gwinnett for now and could eventually give the team another right-handed-hitting option to pair with lefties Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis in the outfield. Preston Tucker is currently Atlanta’s fourth outfielder behind Markakis, Inciarte and wunderkind Ronald Acuna Jr., though Tucker has never played center as a pro and has seen his production at the plate plummet after a hot week to open the season (.192/.222/.327 in his past 54 PAs).

    As for Decker, the 28-year-old opened the season with a .271/.407/.458 batting line through 59 PAs, though that came with a lofty .429 BABIP and a 32.2 percent strikeout clip. Strikeouts haven’t typically been an issue for him (career 20.1 percent), however, and he’s also displayed a keen eye at the top minor league level with a 12.7 percent walk rate. Decker, a former supplemental-round pick of the Padres (No. 42 overall, 2008), is a career .268/.364/.402 slash in parts of six Triple-A seasons.

    Braves Promote Mike Soroka Tue, 01 May 2018 16:31:09 +0000 The Braves have promoted top pitching prospect Mike Soroka to take the ball in tonight’s contest, per a club announcement. Though Soroka had to be added to the 40-man roster, there were openings available.

    Mike Soroka | Getty Images

    In a corresponding move that was completed yesterday, righty Chase Whitley was optioned to open a spot on the active roster. The Braves still have eight arms available in the pen.

    Soroka, 20, entered the season as one of the game’s most-hyped pitching prospects. By consensus, he placed among the game’s top thirty-five or so pre-MLB players. Baseball America is among the most bullish outlets on the young righty, ranking him 27th on its board.

    Thus far, Soroka has done nothing but increase the anticipation with his first four starts at the Triple-A level. In 22 2/3 innings this season for Gwinnett, he sports an attractive 1.99 ERA wih 9.5 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. He’s also drawing grounders on an eye-popping 69.0% of the balls put in play against him.

    Needless to say, it’s an exciting time to be a Braves fan. The organization is off to a nice start and has already welcomed top overall prospect Ronald Acuna, who has knocked the cover off the ball early on.

    Now, the club will get a look at perhaps its most exciting young arm. The 28th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Soroka has breezed through the Braves’ system. While he has not typically carried his current strikeout or groundball rates over full seasons, all the tools are there for a front-of-the-rotation starter.

    It’s worth noting, too, that Soroka ought not to face many restrictions on his workload this year. He threw 143 frames in 2016 and 153 2/3 last year at Double-A, so he should be clear to handle about as many as the team likes in 2018. If he can hold down a MLB roster spot the rest of the way, Soroka would put himself on course to reach arbitration as a Super Two player after the 2020 season. Regardless, he cannot pass six years of major-league service until after the 2024 campaign, at the earliest.

    Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

    Bowman On Braves' 2019 Payroll Tue, 01 May 2018 14:26:44 +0000
  • Likewise,’s Mark Bowman answers some queries from Braves fans. Of particular interest, he provides a gauge on what kind of cash the organization may have to spend in the coming winter. Bowman says he has been told there’ll be at least $50MM in payroll capacity to work with for 2019, which is certainly a rather hefty sum for a team that is not among the bigger spenders around the game. Just how much is ultimately utilized, and how it’s allocated, is obviously far from being clear. As Bowman notes, the team will be gather information on its assets and needs all season long, even as it tries to extend a promising start to the year.
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    Braves Notes: Soroka, Deadline Sun, 29 Apr 2018 23:13:19 +0000
  • Braves pitching prospect Mike Soroka was scratched from a Triple-A start today since he could be needed for his big league debut this week, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, depending on the health of Julio Teheran and Anibal Sanchez.  Teheran’s outing on Friday was cut short by tightness in his upper right trapezius, though the Braves are hopeful that he’ll be able to make his scheduled start on Wednesday.  Sanchez, meanwhile, is tentatively slated to return from a hamstring injury and be activated from the DL in time for Saturday’s start.  Both Teheran and Sanchez felt good after bullpen sessions on Sunday, and Sanchez will also throw in a simulated game on Tuesday before a decision is made about his status.  Soroka, the 28th overall pick of the 2015 draft, is a consensus top-35 prospect according to preseason rankings from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, and  He has continued to display that promise in his first taste of Triple-A ball this year, with a 1.99 ERA, 9.5 K/9, and a 4.8 K/BB rate over 22 2/3 innings at the top of the minor league pyramid.  It’s likely that Soroka wouldn’t get an extended stint in the majors quite yet if he was promoted this week, though he is a prime candidate for a longer look later this season once rosters expand.
  • In a video update for FOX Sports (Twitter link), Ken Rosenthal believes Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos will be his usual aggressive self on the trade front if Atlanta is in contention at the deadline, though Anthopoulos doesn’t seem likely to deal multiple prospects.  While the Braves have a deep farm system, this pipeline of young and affordable talent is crucial to both the club’s rebuild and its financial situation — Rosenthal notes that the Braves “are saddled by debt.”  Anthopoulos already eschewed trading from that prospect depth last winter, though it will be interesting to see what moves he does make if the Braves continue to keep pace in the NL East.
  • ]]>
    Braves Release Peter Bourjos Sun, 29 Apr 2018 16:47:15 +0000 APRIL 29: The Braves have released Bourjos, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets.

    APRIL 25: The Braves announced Wednesday that they’ve designated outfielder Peter Bourjos for assignment. His roster spot will go to Ronald Acuña Jr., whose contract has been formally selected from Triple-A Gwinnett. Acuña will make his MLB debut tonight.

    Bourjos, 31, has a longstanding reputation as a premium defensive outfielder but has struggled at the plate in recent seasons. The 2018 campaign was no exception, as Bourjos got off to a 3-for-25 start to the season, with a pair of walks against seven strikeouts through a total of 27 plate appearances. He latched on with the Braves on a Major League contract late in Spring Training after being cut loose by the Cubs, with whom he’d been playing on a minor league deal.

    Atlanta will have a week to trade Bourjos, run him through outright waivers or simply release him. If he clears outright waivers, he’d have the option to reject the outright assignment in favor of free agency, given that he has seven-plus years of MLB service time — well north of the minimum three he’d need to exercise that right. Considering the crowded outfield situation with the Braves with Acuna, Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis and Preston Tucker all on the big league roster, it’s quite possible that the veteran Bourjos looks to find another opportunity with an organization that has a less-solidified mix of outfielders in the Majors.

    NL Notes: Bruce, Kang, Stratton, Panik, Gohara, Pennington Sat, 28 Apr 2018 18:30:10 +0000 Mets outfielder Jay Bruce has been taking ground balls at first base, James Wagner of the New York Times reports. Wagner adds that the Mets may consider playing him there in order to open up room for Brandon Nimmo to receive everyday playing time again. First base incumbent Adrian Gonzalez has struggled mightily thus far, with just a .203/.300/.320 batting line on the season. It’s still only April, but in light of his struggles last year with the Dodgers, Gonzalez’s leash might be fairly short. That’s particularly true since Nimmo reached base in half of his 38 MLB plate appearances this season. It’s fair to think that the Mets are looking hard for ways to lock Nimmo into an everyday role.

    Other news out of the NL…

    • Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang won’t receive any discipline from MLB, nor will the team dole out any punishment, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on Twitter. Kang was denied a U.S. visa for all of last year due to multiple DUI-related arrests. He’s finally able to return to the Pirates as of Thursday.
    • Today, the Giants reinstated Chris Stratton from the paternity list, optioning outfielder Austin Slater to Triple-A Sacramento in a corresponding move. Within hours, however, the club reversed its reported stance on Mac Williamson’s status, placing him on the seven-day concussion DL. The move allowed the Giants to recall Slater, who’s directly replacing Williamson. Stratton sports an impressive 2.32 ERA and 2.69 FIP across five starts this season, though the fact that he hasn’t allowed any homers despite a 37.8% hard contact rate suggests he might have been a bit lucky in that regard. Stratton will take his scheduled turn through the rotation today against the Dodgers.
    • In other Giants news, second baseman Joe Panik has been placed on the disabled list with a sprained left thumb. The club correspondingly purchased the contract of second baseman/outfielder Alen Hanson, who leads the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with a .403 batting average. The club moved Mark Melancon to the 60-day DL in order to clear room on the 40-man roster for Hanson.
    • The Braves have reinstated left-hander Luiz Gohara from the disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Gwinnett, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Gohara suffered a sprained ankle during a spring training outing, and had exhausted the maximum amount of time allotted for rehab starts. He’ll likely make a couple more starts in the minors before returning to help the Braves at the major league level. Gohara had figured to be a prominent part of Atlanta’s rotation before the season began.
    • The Reds announced that infielder Cliff Pennington has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Louisville. Pennington, who signed a minors deal in the offseason, made the club out of spring training camp as a bench player. However, he’s struck out in nearly 40 percent of his plate appearances thus far and has yet to sock an extra-base hit.
    Julio Teheran Departs With Trap Tightness Sat, 28 Apr 2018 03:57:36 +0000 Braves righty Julio Teheran left his outing today with what the team is calling “right upper trap tightness.” He had shown a concerning velocity drop before departing, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. The 27-year-old Teheran entered the day with a 4.00 ERA in his 27 innings, while carrying a career-best 12.8% swinging-strike rate, but gave up three earned in his three frames. It seems generally promising that there’s a muscular explanation for Teheran’s sudden loss of velo, though of course that does not necessarily mean he’s out of the woods and we’ll have to await further word.

    Lane Adams Elects Free Agency Fri, 27 Apr 2018 22:52:47 +0000 Outfielder Lane Adams has elected free agency rather than accepting an outright assignment from the Braves, per David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). He had already cleared waivers after recently being designated for assignment.

    Adams has been a useful asset for the Braves since joining the organization on a minor-league deal in advance of the 2017 season. He has carried a .264/.338/.450 slash line with six home runs in 146 total plate appearances since being called up this time last year.

    Of course, that’s obviously not a terribly significant amount of playing time. It’s worth noting, too, that Adams had been more a good than a great performer in the upper minors in recent seasons. (He owns a .721 OPS in 384 Triple-A plate appearances and a .777 mark in his 1,479 cumulative trips to the dish at the Double-A level.) And teams that bypassed Adams on the waiver wire were surely turned off by the fact that the 28-year-old cannot be optioned.

    Still, the Braves no doubt would have preferred to hold onto Adams, who might well have been the first man up if a need had arisen at the MLB level. That said, with Ronald Acuna ascending, there just wasn’t an immediate need. Adams obviously decided he could find greater opportunity elsewhere.

    Braves Designate Carlos Perez Fri, 27 Apr 2018 19:47:30 +0000 The Braves have designated catcher Carlos Perez for assignment, per a club announcement. That move came as part of a series of decisions.

    Fellow receiver Tyler Flowers will make his return from the DL, which left the team without a need for Perez. The Atlanta organization also elected to bring up righty Chase Whitley while optioning Matt Wisler back to Triple-A.

    Perez had a chance to make a case to be retained by the Braves after being acquired from the Angels at the outset of the season. But he managed just three singles and a walk in his 22 plate appearances for the Braves. Though he has hit the ball well at times in the minors, Perez is just a .221/.264/.325 hitter over 617 total trips to the dish at the game’s highest level.

    On the pitching side, the Braves will fill out their pen by calling upon Whitley, who was acquired from the Rays over the winter. He has thrown 12 1/3 innings of 3.65 ERA ball thus far at Triple-A, with ten strikeouts against three walks. A veteran of four MLB campaigns, two apiece with the Yankees and Rays, Whitley will be joining the Braves’ MLB roster for the first time.

    As for Wisler, he raised hopes with a strong season debut in which he racked up eight strikeouts without issuing a walk in seven two-hit innings. But he coughed up three free passes, nine hits, and four earned runs without recording a single K in his next outing. For now, then, the former top prospect will head back to Gwinnett and wait for another opportunity.

    After 310 total frames of 5.20 ERA ball in the majors, Wisler remains in a somewhat precarious roster position. That said the Braves have cleared several 40-man spots in recent weeks, so the pressure shouldn’t be felt immediately, particularly given the team’s ongoing need for rotation depth and the fact that Wisler’s first two outings at Triple-A were quite good.