After signing Marcell Ozuna, the Braves have made transactions that back up the fact that the team is running low on “financial flexibility”. In today’s piece “Braves Add Players, Subtract Financial Flexibility”, we’ll discuss the moves made and their potential impact on the roster.
Braves Sign Catcher Hendrik Clementina
Clementina was originally signed by the Dodgers, then traded to the Reds, then signed by the Braves in 2021 after his release. At 23, he’s still young enough to recover and have a career in the bigs, but for now it seems like he’s destined for the lower minors. His carrying tool has been his bat and it sounds as though most of his catching skills need upgrading. The Braves are definitely top heavy when it comes to catching talent and this signing likely helps provide depth in the lower minors. My guess is Clementina will go to High-A with the ability to move fast should the unknown of 2020’s “work” show his catching skills have improved.
Braves Sign Jason Kipnis to MILB Deal
If you wanted a replacement for Nick Markakis with a bit more positional flexibilty, Jason Kipnis is your man. Kipnis is a solid hitter, eerily similar to Markakis, but younger. Like many LHHs, his career OPS vs. RHPs is good (.789), while his OPS vs LHPs is not (.671). With the ability to backup 2nd, maybe 3B, and the corners in the OF, Kipnis could be a good addition to a weak bench.
Braves Claim Travis Demeritte, DFA Demeritte, Outright Demeritte
In a move I thoroughly enjoyed, the Braves brought Travis Demeritte back to the ATL by claiming him after the Tigers DFA’d him. This move placed Demeritte on the 40-man roster for a short while, until the Braves DFA’d him. Since none of the other teams wanted Demeritte, he was outrighted off of the 40-man roster. I didn’t know this transaction rule, but a player must accept being outrighted off the 40-man if it’s a first occurrence.
We know Demeritte. The young man has serious raw power that comes with a lot of swing and miss. It seems like the last time Demeritte was “right” was when he was in Atlanta’s org under the tutelage of his AAA hitting coach when he carried a .944 OPS with 20 HRs in 96 games. It just so happens that said AAA hitting coach is now the assistant hitting coach on the MLB squad.
I don’t think being outrighted hurts Demeritte’s chances on the roster, rather it was just a move to add more competition to spring. If Demeritte can find his bat path under Seitzer and co., his value is heightened with his ability to play 4 positions. With both Cristian Pache and Ronald Acuna Jr. having the ability to play CF, a corner OF backup is completely acceptable.
Braves Sign Jake Lamb
The Braves added Jake Lamb on a $1MM non-guaranteed MLB deal. Lamb, when healthy, is a slightly below average defensive 3B with big power. His bat has extreme splits as he carries a career .599 OPS vs. LHP and and .805 OPS vs. RHP. This move feels like Austin Riley insurance in case he struggles against RHP, and that greatly affects Johan Camargo‘s chances of making the roster.
Braves Claim Phil Ervin from Chicago Cubs
When I first saw this move, I was meh. After reading up on Ervin, I’d say I was slightly above meh. After finding out he was a former 1st round draft pick, the “pedigree first” in me has now come around to “cautiously excited”. Ervin is a true backup OFer with ability to play all 3 OF positions. While he hasn’t graded out as above average, his career is hardly a big enough sample to warrant an opinion one way or another. Unlike other bench options, Ervin is a RHH and has had very good results against LHP (.811 career OPS). This is the key point, especially if the Braves keep both Kipnis and Lamb who excel against RHP.
The latest news on the payroll does not look good as it’s been reported the Braves have less than $5MM to spend (but they were willing to stretch that for Trevor Rosenthal, so I don’t really understand, but oh well), but I’m not sure if that’s with the MLB salaries of Lamb and Kipnis included, or without. Time will tell, but it’s worth noting that the Braves couldn’t go big on $ last trade deadline because of a maximized budget and had to settle for Tommy Milone. Luckily for the team, both Kyle Wright and Ian Anderson stepped up down the stretch to provide what Tommy Milone could not.
Thanks for reading “Braves Add Players, Subtract Financial Flexibility”. If you missed it, check out our first “Spring Training Roster Talk” here.