Unless you’re like me and checking the Braves transactions page daily, you might not have noticed that the Braves have made 5 transactions in June.
- Claimed SS Joe Dunand off waivers from Miami Marlins.
- Signed free agent LHP Rolando Gutierrez to a minor league contract.
- Signed free agent C Alexander Martinez.
- Signed free agent SS Leiker Figueroa to a minor league contract.
- Claimed 2B Kramer Robertson off waivers from St. Louis Cardinals.
It looks like Martinez, Figueroa, and Gutierrez are all young international signings that will report to the Braves Dominican Summer League and we likely won’t hear anything about them for a couple of years. However, the Dunand and Robertson claims are interesting as both needed a 40-man spot. Anthopoulos has stated several times that there’s not much value in leaving 40-man spots vacant, and with these 2 claims, the Braves currently have all 40 spots occupied and the following players on the 60-day IL:
Piña and Luke have no shot to return this year, we haven’t heard a single word on Jay Jackson, and Soroka, Yates, and Rosario look like they’ll be late July or early August at the earliest. And yes, get ready, because when it happens, we will have to suffer through Chip Caray talking about how those 3 returning are just like a big trade acquisition.
But why would the Braves choose to utilize the last 2 40-man roster spots by claiming 2 mid-20s MILB lifers that just received their first cups of coffee in the bigs? I have a theory, but let’s look at the player profiles first.
Who are Joe Dunand and Kramer Robertson?
Dunand, drafted in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft by the Marlins hasn’t lived up to his 2nd round promise, carrying a .674 career OPS in 5ish years in the minors. However, he’s a bit of a swiss-army knife in the infield, logging innings at all defensive positions.
Robertson, a 4th round signing in 2017 out of LSU, has a very similar statsheet to Dunand, logging defensive innings in all infield positions except 1B, with SS being his primary position. His offense comes with a little more polish than Dunand’s due to his ability to work counts and take walks. In fact, he seems very similar to the Braves 1st round pick back in 2019, Braden Shewmake.
Neither have that much to offer, except that they’re no longer spring chickens, have a lot of experience in the professional realm of baseball, and can play SS in a pinch. Bench roles are hard, especially for young players that need ABs to sink or swim. This is why the Braves choose to utilize guys like Orlando Arcia and Guillermo Heredia in bench roles. A few years back during COVID ball, Cristian Pache traveled nearly the whole year with the team, yet only received 4 PAS in the regular season while other prospects like Michael Harris were at the special camp set up for a select group of MILB players, getting reps against their teammates. I firmly believe this was a horrible decision by the Braves brass that cost Pache more than just a year of growth. I’m sure if AA were to be able to go back and redo that year he’d have signed some guys similar to the ones above to be the emergency guys, not a 21 year old. Both Dunand and Robertson are capable, and would be most appreciative, of fulfilling emergency duties and serve as the 26th man on the roster.
Orlando Arcia has been a pleasant surprise for the Braves this year. He’s not eligible to be a free agent until 2024 and is signed to a ridiculously team friendly contract for $1.5MM this year and next, with a 2024 club option. However, Orlando Arcia isn’t seeing at-bats. He’s carrying an .817 OPS, yet has only logged 57 PAs. When teams get to the trade deadline and see Arcia’s numbers, salary and that he’s dirt cheap this year and beyond, he could part of a package that helps fetch the Braves a needed piece.