Early during today’s Braves/Pirates game, news filtered out that Atlanta had made a trade with the Reds for the second time in less than 40 days. After trading Preston Tucker to the Reds in the Adam Duvall deal, the Braves reacquired Tucker for cash considerations. While Duvall has struggled with the Braves, the team has essentially surrendered Matt Wisler and Lucas Sims for him. Not too bad.
The timing of the deal was the strangest thing. Before September 1, Atlanta notably added Lucas Duda and Rene Rivera. By doing so before the end of August 31, Atlanta can use either player – but especially Duda – in the playoffs. Tucker, however, will be ineligible for the playoffs. You might wonder if the fact he was with the organization before August 31 plays a role. It does not. While getting the exact wording of the rule is a little harder than it needs to be, this summary from MLB.com goes a long way to describe the rule in the simplest of terms.
Players must be on the 40-man roster, the 60-day disabled list or the bereavement/family medical emergency list as of midnight ET on Aug. 31 to be eligible for their respective clubs’ postseason rosters. Consequently, players that are acquired via September trades or signed as free agents in September are ineligible for postseason play.
Despite Tucker’s previous run with the Braves, because he was not in the organization in any fashion as of August 31, he will not be eligible for the postseason roster.
So why this deal? Because the Braves still need to win a spot in the playoffs and Tucker can help them get there. While September trades are unusual, they do take place. For instance, in 1997, the Braves acquired catcher Greg Myers on September 5. A more notable September trade came in 1980 when the Rangers sent Sparky Lyle to the Phillies. Lyle pitched ten times after the trade to help the Phils overcome the Expos. He then sat and watched as the Phillies won the NLCS and World Series.
Back to Tucker, he did little during his short time with the Reds – 7-for-37 with a double, two homers, and nine K’s. The Braves, though, see Tucker in a similar light as their decision to bring back Lane Adams. Tucker, like Adams, fills a role and lengthens the bench. The Braves wanted Adams’ speed. They also want Tucker’s bat.
In 150 PA against right-hand pitching this year, Tucker is hitting .257/.320/.456. What is especially relevant is his ability as a pinch hitter – .250/.325/.472. His biggest issue is offspeed pitches this season – .200 wOBA. But he hits well off fastballs (.330 wOBA) and breaking balls (.380 wOBA). Basically, the kind of stuff you can expect from relievers. Even after rosters expanded, the Braves were still a little short on left-hand bats. Duda’s addition helped, but the next left-hand bat was either Ryan Flaherty or Rio Ruiz. Tucker’s a better option than either.
While the timing was a little weird, the addition was smart. The Braves will have to make yet another move to find room for Tucker. Earlier today, they placed Michael Reed on the 60-day DL for Flaherty. I imagine either Wes Parsons or Adam McCreery might be getting DFA’d unless they can find someone else with a bruised shin they can throw on the 60-day DL.
9:00 PM EST EDIT – Well, we’ve learned that Dustin Peterson has been designated for assignment in order to make room for Tucker. Peterson opened the year looking to wipe the bad taste out of his mouth that was 2017. A bit of a hot prospect entering spring training, he broke the hamate bone in his wrist. It cost him a lot of playing time and bothered him throughout the season. After a strong spring this year, he got off to a good start with Gwinnett. His OPS was sitting at .776 when he was brought to the majors in late May.
After two pinch-hit appearances (0-2), he returned to Gwinnett and hasn’t really wowed anyone since. If another team declines to take a flier on him, he’ll be Rule 5 eligible for a second consecutive season this winter. He’ll also have two option seasons remaining. Peterson turns 24 in eight days.