The season is officially over and it’s time to get back to our Transaction Tuesday reports. During the season, this series catches most of the minor league movement as players move to one team or another. In the off-season, I focus more on the “minor” choices. Basically, the decisions that really don’t deserve a full article to focus on like a trade or free agent signing.
The moves covered in this series include all reported moves from October 31 to November 6.
Activated: Jacob Lindgren…The good news is that Lindgren is already rehabbing in advance of the 2018 season. He’s loaded with potential and could be a big-time arm for the 2018 team. In 122 minor league games, Craig Kimbrel had a K/9 of 14.4. In 40 minor league games, Lindgren has a K/9 of 14.3. Do you understand why they call him the Strikeout Factor yet? If healthy, Lindgren and A.J. Minter could be death to left-hand power hitters and nearly just as hard on right-hand batters.
Activated: Danny Santana…It’s surprising to this point that the Braves have Santana still on the roster. Arbitration-eligible, he seems like an easy non-tender considering his .221/.255/.320 line over the last three seasons (703 PA). For the moment, he’s still a Brave and fans of the team hope that doesn’t last.
Elected Free Agency: R.A. Dickey…Many felt the Braves should have brought back Dickey, who had an option for the 2018 season. He certainly ate some innings for a very bad ballclub and often kept the team in the game – a rarity for the 2017 rotation. That said, I think the Braves need to use their money better than to bring back a guy who often struggled to find his knuckler last summer.
Elected Free Agency: Jason Motte…After 40.2 innings last year where his numbers looked better than he actually did, Motte is likely moving on. He’s one of baseball’s best people, but he doesn’t resemble the guy who once dominated the latter innings while a member of the Cardinals.
Released: Joel De La Cruz…After making it to the majors for the first time in his nine years last year, De La Cruz spent most of 2017 injured and threw just 8.2 innings for Gwinnett. He’s now gone, though we all have our stories about De La Cruz. My favorite comes from Dayton in Nebraska.
So yeah, that’s my Joel de la Cruz story. Thanks for following along. pic.twitter.com/JcNIb0f7x8
— Dayton from Nebraska (@BravesAmerica) November 7, 2017
Released: Armando Rivero…Doubt this move gets made if John Coppolella is still with the team. A Rule 5 pick last winter who spent the season on the shelf due to shoulder problems, Rivero passed through waivers recently and was no longer a Rule 5 player. Nevertheless, the Braves gave up on the Cuban-born righty.
Minor League Free Agents.
This group is courtesy of Baseball America.
Enrique Burgos…A veteran of 73 games in the majors, Burgos was acquired out of the D’Backs’ organization and was a lot better than his full-season numbers look like. Hitters hit just .158 against him over his first 22 games and Burgos K’d 26 in 22 innings with a 2.86 ERA. However, his final two games were ugly. He was charged with six runs while recording just one out. That upped his ERA with Gwinnett to 5.24. He’s always had a nice arm, but an inability to throw consistent strikes have been his downfall. Sounds a lot like Mauricio Cabrera, actually.
Rhiner Cruz…A former Rule 5 pick by the Astros who got hammered in 76.1 innings between 2012 and 2013, Cruz had spent two years pitching internationally before the Braves brought him into the organization last winter. He showed a high-powered arm, which was of little surprise. Twenty-three unintentional passes in 50.2 innings with three homers allowed probably won’t prompt the Braves to bring him back, though. A depth of arms climbing the ladder also will likely not allow for much room for Cruz.Kris Medlen…Meds topped 100 innings for the first time since 2013. Unfortunately, outside of his trademark solid control, it was 116.1 innings of mediocrity. He made 16 starts in Gwinnett after building up his arm strength and just didn’t resemble the star right-hander who once looked so good for the big league club. If he’s thrown his final pitch in the organization, he did finish on a strong note. In his final game, he shut down the Durham Bulls over seven scoreless innings with a walk and eight strikeouts. The game score of 76 was the only time he had a GS of 70 or better with Gwinnett last summer.
Dan Reynolds…Picked up after spending most of his career in the Angels’ system, Reynolds was a dependable arm for Mississippi last year. Dependable, but hardly noteworthy. The Braves have too many good left-hand arms to bring Reynolds back in 2017. In eight seasons, Reynolds has appeared in just three games above Double-A.
Joe Rogers…Signed back in the spring after the Tigers cut their former fifth-round pick, Rogers never got going this year. A career of injuries continued and he played in just 20 games, but even when he did pitch, it was poorly.
Joey Meneses…If there’s one free agent who seems like a possible target for the Braves to bring back, it’s Meneses. An international signee out of Mexico, Meneses has been a slow riser up the system who has yet to play in Triple-A. As we pointed out before, the Braves are pretty thin at first base and could bring back Meneses for depth. He’s got a decent hit tool and can get on base, but lacks any power.
Kyle Kubitza…This offseason is the first time many members of the 2011 draft class have hit free agency. Technically, Kubitza is all that’s left of that class for the Braves, though he was traded off under the previous regime and was later brought back. He was a rising prospect in 2013-14 and even spent 19 games in the majors back in 2015. Now, he’s just a name. He did find a way to finish this season with five doubles, five triples, five homers, five steals, and was caught stealing – you guessed it – five times. So…that’s interesting.
Sean Kazmar…The veteran shortstop is now 14 years into his career. He briefly reached the majors back in 2008, but for the last five seasons, he’s been a regular fixture in Gwinnett much like Damon Hollins once did in Richmond. Could 2017 be it for Kazmar? If not, there is a good chance he’s brought back to Gwinnett in an almost player-coach fashion.
Emerson Landoni…2017 was Landoni’s 11th season in the minors and he’s spent the last six seasons with the Braves’ organization. You can basically say the same things about Landoni as I just did about Kazmar.
Matt Tuiasosopo…A key contributor on the 2016 Gwinnett squad, Tuiasosopo saw his OPS drop 211 points in his Age-31 season. Drafted back in 2004, Tuiasosopo is a good clubhouse guy and could be brought back if to help the Braves at first base. That said, considering that Freddie Freeman has missed significant time in two of the last three seasons, the Braves might go shopping for a better option.