Braves outfielder Ender Inciarte seemed close to a return at the tail end of the regular season, but was ruled out of action for the NLDS after reporting continued discomfort when he tried to ramp things up. He had continued working toward a potential return in the event that the club advances, but that effort now seems all but over.
Inciarte has been nursing a hamstring injury, but he has now also come down with a quad malady. As MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets, the belief now is that the veteran outfielder has no realistic hope of returning to the field of play in 2019 — even if the club is able to advance.
That’s a disappointing development for the Braves, whose NLDS roster — and potential future NLCS and World Series 25-man lists — would look a lot better with a full-strength Inciarte. The club would also dearly love to have Charlie Culberson and/or Johan Camargo available. Without these versatile and established performers, the Braves felt compelled to carry an additional position player (Rafael Ortega, for the NLDS) rather than an extra pitcher. That may not be possible in a seven-game series.
While Inciarte would’ve preferred to finish out the campaign in uniform, he’s still likely to return for another go in 2020. The Braves will owe him $7MM next year and $8MM in 2021, with a club option to follow. It’s possible Inciarte could be dangled in trade talks, depending upon the club’s other moves, but he’s still a highly useful and cost-efficient piece that seems to fit the Atlanta roster.