Hot Stove: Atlanta Braves Week-in-Review, February 12

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips could be bringing his smile to the Braves. (Photo: John Hefti/Icon Sportswire)

Welcome to the final Hot Stove Week-in-Review of the offseason! Tuesday there will be pitchers and catchers in Orlando doing baseball player type things. Spring training is so close you can smell the pine tar, freshly-cut grass, and complaining beat writers. But the dying embers of the hot stove burned just enough to get us one last trade before spring training…

Braves to Acquire Brandon Phillips

Late Saturday night, FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Braves were close to acquiring Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips. The Braves and the Reds had been down this road before earlier this winter, and reportedly had a deal in place in November but Phillips excerisized his 10-and-5 rights to veto the trade (read Atlanta Braves Week-in-Review, January 8 for the whole story). However, this time the trade seems to be happening, as Brandon Phillips himself suggests on Twitter.

While the deal is close, as of press time it is not complete. One of the hurdles may be the Braves needing to make sure that a hand injury sustained by Phillips late in the 2016 season has completely healed. The names of the players heading back to the Reds in the deal also have not been disclosed or leaked, though Reds beat writer Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Inquirer suggests that the return for the Reds is “nothing much”. Rosenthal also reports that the Reds will be send money to help off-set a portion of Phillips’s $14 million salary owed for 2017, the final year of a 6-year extension he signed with Cincinnati.

{Editor’s Note: The deal is final, pending MLB approval due to the money involved. The Reds send Brandon Phillips to Atlanta for 27-year old LHP Andrew McKirahan and 29-year old RHP Carlos Portuondo, both minor leaguers. The Reds will be reportedly paying $10.5M of Phillips’ $14M salary, and Phillips’ will retain his 10 & 5 trade protection rights in Atlanta. – CJ}

Outfield Fly Rule will have a complete transaction analysis if/when the deal comes to fruition.

Sean Rodriguez to Miss 3-5 Months

In the midst of the Phillips trade talk, the reason for the Braves renewed interest in the Reds infielder was revealed. Utilityman Sean Rodriguez, who was signed in November, was the victim of a horrific car accident in Miami that hospitalized his wife and two young children. While it was reported at the time that Rodriguez himself was unhurt in the accident, it appears that actually wasn’t the case as Ken Rosenthal revealed that Rodriguez will have surgery this week to repair damage to his left shoulder. The team is expecting Rodriguez to miss 3-to-5 months while recovering, meaning he will miss all of Spring Training and would make his Braves debut sometime between mid-May and July.

Rodriguez reportedly had the inside track to be the opening day starter at second base. Now it appears that the Braves will have Phillips in the driver’s seat, with incumbent Jace Peterson, Micah Johnson, and prospect Ozzie Albies vying to take the wheel.

Jordan Walden, Braves Agree to Void Contract

On Thursday, the Braves announced that they had voided the minor league contract that the team had entered into with right-handed reliever Jordan Walden due to the lack of progress Walden was having in rehab for the shoulder issues that caused him to miss the entire 2016 season.

Walden pitched for Atlanta in 2013-14, culminating a 3.15 ERA in 97 innings over the two seasons and striking out 116 batters. Walden was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals along with outfielder Jason Heyward for pitchers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins. Unfortunately for Walden and the Cardinals, a series of bicep, lat muscle, and shoulder issues caused him to pitch only 10.1 innings for St. Louis. It is not certain what comes next for the big righty, perhaps it seems that he has several more lives to live, and perhaps cannot spare any more time for baseball.

Did you know that Jordan Walden does a weird hop during his delivery?

Ten Braves to Participate in the World Baseball Classic

Rosters for this season’s World Baseball Classic were released this week, and ten Braves, including five players currently on the 40-man roster. The WBC is an international showcase that takes place during Spring Training every four years, and this year the tournament will be held March 6-22. The Dominican Republic has won the last two tournaments.

First baseman Freddie Freeman has agreed to represent Team Canada in the event. Both of Freeman’s parents are Canadian, and Freeman shared on Twitter that he is playing to honor his mother, who passed away from melanoma when he was 10 years old.

This is the list of Braves playing in the WBC, with 40-man rostered players in bold:

Bartolo Colon pitches for the Dominican Republic in 2003. (Photo: MLB Network)

Steven Kent, Australia
Jon Kennedy, Australia
Andrew Albers, Canada
Freddie Freeman, Canada
Julio Teheran, Colombia
Mel Rojas Jr., Dominican Republic
Bartolo Colon, Dominican Republic
Andres Avila, Mexico
Jaime Garcia, Mexico
Ender Inciarte, Venezuela

Baseball America Tabs 8 Braves For Top 100 Prospect List

Another week, another major baseball media outlet lavished praise on the Braves farm system. This week it was Baseball America’s turn, naming the Braves as the #1 farm system in baseball and putting 8 prospects in their Top 100 prospect list, the largest number of any major league team.

The representative Braves are:

  1. Dansby Swanson, SS
  2. Ozzie Albies, 2B/SS
  3. Kolby Allard, LHP
  4. Mike Soroka, RHP
  5. Ian Anderson, RHP
  6. Ronald Acuna, OF
  7. Kevin Maitan, SS
  8. Sean Newcomb, LHP

This follows on the heals of ESPN’s Keith Law and MLB Pipeline naming 9 and 7 Braves prospects on their top 100 prospect lists respectively.

Jonathan Morales Comes Up Big For Puerto Rico

Braves catching prospect Jonathan Morales drove in the only run of a 1-0 decision that won Puerto Rico their first Caribbean Series victory in 18 years.

The winning run came in the top of the 10th inning. With a runner on third base and less than two outs, Morales sent a high fly ball to center field. The throw was short, and Puerto Rico finally got a lead that they would not give up.

Puerto Rico upset heavily-favored Mexico, who has won four out of the last six Caribbean Series. The game proved a satisfying end to an otherwise frustrating winter league for Morales, who hit only .170/.250/.191 in 18 games of the regular season. In addition to the sac fly, Morales got kudos for his catching in the game for managers and starting pitcher Adalberto Flores, who pitched a no-hitter into the 6th inning.

SHAMELESS PLUG: Want to know more about Jonathan Morales? Check out the Get to Know a Prospect series!

About Andy Harris 73 Articles
Andy Harris has been a baseball fan since seeing the Big Red Machine in 1978 and hardcore baseball fan since reading Bill James's Historical Baseball Abstract in 1990. Andy moved to the Atlanta area in 1991, which turned out to be a pretty good year for the local team.

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