The Braves announced a series of roster transactions, including the news that Josh Tomlin’s 2022 club option has been declined. Left-hander Grant Dayton has been released, and outfielder Terrance Gore has been outrighted to Triple-A. Joining the 40-man roster are outfielder Travis Demeritte and right-hander Alan Rangel, whose contracts were selected from Triple-A. Ronald Acuna Jr. and Mike Soroka were also reinstated from the 60-day injured list as procedural moves.
Tomlin has spent the last three years with Atlanta, signing a pair of minor league contracts for the 2019 and 2020 seasons and then inking a one-year Major League deal last winter that paid him $1.25MM in guaranteed salary. That money took the form of a $1MM salary for the season and then a $250K buyout of the team’s $1.25MM club option for the 2022 campaign. The Braves therefore had a $1MM decision to make on Tomlin, and opted to not bring Tomlin back after a rough season for the 37-year-old.
Tomlin posted a 6.57 ERA over 49 1/3 relief innings last year, and was the victim of some bad luck — an ungainly .358 BABIP and a .346 xwOBA was well below his .377 wOBA. That said, even his xwOBA was only in the 15th percentile of all pitchers, and Tomlin allowed more than his usual amount of hard contact. With a very low strikeout rate and whiff rate, this lack of missed bats caught up to Tomlin in a big way. On the plus side, Tomlin still delivered his usual excellent walk rate and spin rates on both his fastball and his curve.
Though a neck strain sidelined Tomlin for much of September, he likely wouldn’t have made the Braves’ postseason roster anyway. The declined option doesn’t necessarily spell the end of his tenure with the club, as Atlanta could look to retain Tomlin via another minor league deal and see if the veteran has anything left in the tank during Spring Training.
Dayton has also been with Atlanta over the last three seasons, and was projected to earn $1.2MM this winter in his final year of arbitration eligibility. The release allows the southpaw to get an early jump on a new job in free agency, rather than wait a few more weeks until the non-tender deadline (and the Braves also free up a roster spot in advance of the 40-man deadline on November 19).
Dayton pitched only 13 innings in 2021, as a shoulder injury kept him on the injured list for much of the last four months of the season. Injuries have plagued Dayton for the last four years, as he missed all of 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery and he missed a big piece of the 2019 season due to a fractured toe. The southpaw was pretty effective when he was able to pitch in 2019-20, though this year had a 6.23 ERA over his 13 frames.
Gore was signed to a minor league deal last winter and didn’t see any action for the Braves during the regular season, but was on the team’s roster for both the NLDS and the World Series. Gore appeared in one game during the playoffs, pinch-running and being left stranded at first base in the Braves’ 3-0 win over the Brewers in Game 2 of the NLDS. If he wishes, the 30-year-old Gore can decline the outright assignment and look for another contract elsewhere, and contenders might be interested in signing Gore for karma purposes alone. The veteran pinch-running specialist has been a part of the last two World Series championship teams, and has three Series rings in total over his career, despite appearing in only 102 regular-season games from 2014-20.