The Braves have signed Ezequiel Carrera just a couple of days after he was released by the Toronto Blue Jays. Immediately, Braves fans saw this signing as the end of Lane Adams, who has struggled this spring after adjusting his swing in the offseason. But who is Carrera? Let’s find out.
Carrera was signed out of Venezuela over a decade ago by the Mets. A speedy outfielder, Carrera was once part of a winter-2008 three-team trade that sent J.J. Putz to the Mets, Luis Valbuena to the Indians, and Franklin Gutierrez to the Mariners. Carrera went to the Mariners with Gutierrez but would be traded a year-and-half later to the Indians for Russell Branyan. That led the way for Carrera to make his debut in 2011, where he posted a .277 wOBA over 226 PA. Similar results the next two seasons in declining amount of PA.
In 73 PA with the Tigers in 2014, Carrera continued to do very little except splash some speed. The next offseason, he signed with the Blue Jays. It’s with the Jays that he finally found a home hitting .267/.336/.380 over three years and 827 PA. His improvement with Toronto included last season, when he set new personal highs in most offensive categories, including eight homeruns. During his time in Toronto, he posted a .315 wOBA and a 95 wRC+ – numbers improved by a big 2018. One slight change last season – he hit more line drives and less groundballs.
It’s worth mentioning that at best, Carrera profiles as a platoon option. A left-handed hitter, he hasn’t shown much ability at all against southpaws. As a result, the Jays shielded him against left-handed pitchers as frequently as possible. His job in Toronto was threatened by their offseason moves and ultimately, they did him a solid by just releasing him now. As you might expect, Carrera is out of options.
Defensively, Carrera was a graduate of “well, he’s fast so put him in center” school of baseball thinking that mercifully has begun to die off. He’s certainly not a slow runner, but with a sprint speed of 27.9 ft/sec, he ranked just 122nd last season, slower than potential competition like Lane Adams (29.1 ft/sec) and Danny Santana (28.8 ft/sec). Speed isn’t everything, but Carrera’s defensive metrics are all below-average. To be fair, it’s tough to properly grade defensive capability with such a smattering of innings each year at the three outfield positions, but Carrera isn’t impressive. He ranked 297th in catch probability (Matt Kemp ranked 309th, dead last) and 195th in Outs Above Average (Kemp ranked 207th, again the worst).
As for where Carrera fits in for the Braves, I honestly have trouble seeing it. While Lane Adams has stunk this spring, he did everything Carrera did last season – only better. Preston Tucker has his issues but provides a possible power bat off the bench. Of course, not knowing the conditions of Carrera’s contract, the belief may be that Carrera will make a good player to stash in Triple-A. That’s tough to argue against. He provides a league-average-like bat against right-hand pitching. He also can fill-in short-term should the Braves need someone early on this season. After all, he is a better fit on the major league roster than Jaff Decker or Xavier Avery.
What do you guys think? Is Carrera a sneaky-good signing who will help out the bench or is he just minor league depth? Let me know.