Braves Stockpiling Middle Infielders

Joe Dunand: Marlin on the Rise - Fish Stripes

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.

  1. Claimed SS Joe Dunand off waivers from Miami Marlins.
  2. Signed free agent LHP Rolando Gutierrez to a minor league contract.
  3. Signed free agent C Alexander Martinez.
  4. Signed free agent SS Leiker Figueroa to a minor league contract.
  5. 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:

  1. Manny Piña
  2. Eddie Rosario
  3. Luke Jackson
  4. Mike Soroka
  5. Jay Jackson
  6. Kirby Yates

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.

My Theory

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.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

32 thoughts on “Braves Stockpiling Middle Infielders”

  1. “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.”

    Unless of course you regularly read the Monday Farm Report on Outfield Fly Rule. :p

  2. Arcia’s strange. He’s a former top 10 prospect who has basically been a replacement level player. He’s 27 now, so this could be when he finally puts it together. But he’s the younger brother of another former top prospect who also turned into a replacement-level player, Oswaldo Arcia. They have both struggled in similar ways to turn potential into results.

    They’re definitely differently proportioned — Orlando’s a slim infielder and Oswaldo’s a chunky outfielder who hit 34 homers in his first 788 plate appearances — but they both share the disappointing fact that their best-ever season was their second season in the bigs, age 22 for Orlando and 23 for Oswaldo, and they suffered a serious case of arrested development thereafter.

    The biggest issue that I can see by scouting the stat line is that their ability to control the strike zone just disappeared. Oswaldo had a .365 OBP in the minors but .298 in the majors; Orlando had a .343 minor league OBP, but it’s been just .295 in the majors.

    For Anthopoulos, Arcia made a lot of sense, as a post-hype prospect bust who’s capable of delivering Ehire Adrianza-type production while preserving the faintest glimmer of hope that he could still deliver on his former promise.

    Just for comparison, here’s Baseball America’s top prospect ranking for 2016 (with MLB.com’s ranking in parentheses), and their career fWAR:

    1. Corey Seager (1), 23.2 WAR
    2. Byron Buxton (2), 15.3 WAR
    3. Yoan Moncada (7), 12.3 WAR
    4. Julio Urias (4), 10.1 WAR
    5. Lucas Giolito (3), 11.3 WAR
    6. J.P. Crawford (5), 8.1 WAR
    7. Alex Reyes (13), 1.6 WAR
    8. Orlando Arcia (6), 1.5 WAR
    9. Trea Turner (11), 27.0 WAR
    10. Joey Gallo (9), 14.5 WAR

    Reyes has been a relatively famous bust, another pitcher who was absolutely undone by injuries. Arcia is the only position player in the top ten who simply busted because he sucked. (Similar to #16 Lewis Brinson, #21 Nomar Mazara, and #25 Anthony Alford.)

    The Braves are paying Arcia $1.6 million this year, and they’re on the hook for $1.3 million next year plus a choice of whether to buy him out for $100K or pay him $2 million in 2024. That’s a fair market wage for a just-above-replacement level utility player. That’s because Arcia hasn’t ever really demonstrated on the field that he’s capable of being more than that. If Anthopoulos hopes to turn his $1.4 million commitment to Orlando Arcia into a prospect, as Ryan suggests, Orlando has a lot he needs to show, and he needs to show it ASAP.

  3. Does anyone know the status of Jesse Franklin V for Mississippi? He went on the 7 day IL on April 28.

  4. Arcia’s sprint speed is pretty slow, so I’m not sure he has the range to be a an everyday middle infielder anymore. I think he is what he is.

  5. This is for Rob. I had told Ryan privately last week that I could recap Tuesdays in addition to my regular Fridays. Then you commented that you could cover Tuesdays. I’d be happy for you to do it if you are still willing and able to cover tonight’s recap. But if you are not, I can easily do it.

    (I thought I had sent you an email to this effect last week, but it looks like I may not have sent it.)

  6. Acuña is up to like four celebrations (bat flip, Ice Trae, stutter step, Silencer) per homer. I love it, and I know the game is changing, but someone is eventually gonna bean him for it.

  7. @13

    Somebody possibly threw at him last week in Arizona after he bat-flipped on a double where he got thrown out trying to stretch to a triple. I guess getting thrown out wasn’t punishment enough. So in summation…yeah, probably. On the plus side, we don’t play the Marlins again until mid-August.

    UPDATE: He didn’t do anything other than the stutter step on that one.

    Acuna may be getting locked back in, folks.

  8. I think Acuna has as much power as anyone I’ve ever regularly watched. Sometimes it doesn’t even seem like he swings hard.

  9. @17 he’s available for pinch hitting; something small came up during warm up. I don’t quite remember what it was, but it was something like a cramp in his quad?

  10. Wright: 8 innings, 7 Ks, 5 hits, 2 runs, no walks. Fried would be proud of that line.

  11. I didn’t know we had another spot open on the 40 man roster for Webb.

    Suddenly, the Braves are on a 6 game winning streak.

  12. Whooooo!

    Jansen dialed that up to 96. My dude is pumped, too.

  13. @26–Ivan at Battery power speculates that McHugh may be on the COVID list, which apparently exempts you from the 40 man issue.

  14. Wright pitches a superb game.
    Key to the win was going 8 innings, preventing W S from pitching.

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