Spring Training Update: Braves 4th Outfielder Options

The Braves have reportedly reached out to free agent Angel Pagan. (Photo: Steve Mitchell/USA Today)

Earlier this week it was reported by San Francisco Giants beat writer Henry Schulman that the Braves have extended a minor league contract offer to veteran outfielder Angel Pagan, but that Pagan was still looking for a major league deal. Yesterday, Jon Heyman of Fanragsports.com  reported that the Braves were actively searching for a “right-handed hitting backup outfielder who can play center field”. The internal options that would fit this criteria — Emilio Bonifacio, Lane Adams, Matt Tuiasosopo, Mel Rojas Jr. (who is with the Dominican Republic WBC team) — don’t seem to be tickling the fancy of the Braves decision-makers. Let’s take a look at some possible options that may become available. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, and knowing the Braves they will make an outside-the-box move tomorrow to make this article completely irrelevant.

And no, Andrew McCutchen is not a realistic option. Also, the criteria that the team is looking for someone who could play centerfield knocks out popular Braves icon Jeff Francoeur.

FREE AGENT OPTIONS

Angel Pagan
Age 35

The Cadillac option would be to sign Angel Pagan, who just played out a 4-year, $40 million contract with the Giants.

PROS: A proven track record, and his last season with San Francisco was a solid .277/.331/.418, 12 HR, 11 SB, 105 wRC+ season. Has been a solid defender in his career with plenty of centerfield experience.

CONS: May not want to take less to be a 4th outfielder. While he can fill in at centerfield, profiles as below average defensively at this point in his career.

Coco Crisp
Age 37

Crisp got several timely hits for Cleveland in the World Series last year, but the 15-year veteran remains unsigned.

PROS: Crisp still has solid power, with 13 homers last season, still has decent speed, is an experienced pinch hitter.

CONS: A .231/.302/.397 overall batting line last season, which was an improvement over the season before. Coming off a year in which he made $11 million, may not be willing to sign for back-up money. Like Pagan, can fill in centerfield, but shouldn’t be a everyday option.

TRADE or WAIVER WIRE OPTIONS

Gorkys Hernandez
San Francisco Giants
Age 29

Former Braves farmhand Hernandez is one of a small army of outfielders in camp with San Francisco as the Giants try to piece together a productive left field to go with starters Denard Span and Hunter Pence.

PROS: Had a .302/.382/.421 season in AAA last season, then was solid during a six-week late-season call-up. Hernandez is also a fine defensive centerfielder.

CONS: Hernandez looks likely to be the Giants fourth outfielder, so there may need to be a trade. Lack of power or major league track record of success.

Justin Ruggiano
San Francisco Giants
Age 35

The former Marlin seemed to come up with big hits against the Braves a few years ago, but has been bothered by hamstring and shoulder injuries as he’s bounced around several organizations.

PROS: Possibly could be had cheap, as there’s lots of options for the bench in San Francisco and Ruggiano may not make the team. Has always hit left-handers well. Can play a passable center field.

CONS: Had to have surgery on that bothersome shoulder in the off-season, unclear if it’s affecting him.

Trayce Thompson
Los Angeles Dodgers
Age 26

The Braves and the Dodgers have hooked up on four trades since the start of the Hart/Coppolella front office. Could they hook up again?

PROS: Strong defensive centerfielder in the minors, solid power, .841 career OPS against left-handed hitters, seems to be headed to AAA with the Dodgers signing Franklin Gutierrez.

CONS: Back issues this spring has limited him, Dodgers will want a good return back for him.

Rusney Castillo
Boston Red Sox
Age 29

The Cuban defector signed with Boston for a big bonus in 2014, but has so far been unable to break through for significant major league service time.

PROS: Strong defensive centerfielder, career .309/.340/.443 hitter against left-handed hitters. Seems to have become persona non grata with Boston, both sides would probably be happy with a change of scenery.

CONS: Has over $49 million left on the contract he signed with Boston, so the Red Sox would have to eat a significant amount of cash. Doesn’t hit for power and doesn’t get on base that much.

To further complicate the market, the Detroit Tigers are apparently unhappy with their own internal options and are now apparently actively seeking potential starting centerfield options themselves.

In The Trainer’s Room

Ozzie Albies made his spring training debut yesterday, going 1-for-2 with a run scored and turning a 4-3 double play.

Utilityman Chase d’Arnaud has been slowed by the flu and bronchitis according to Kevin McAlpin on Braves Radio. However, he is listed as an available extra for today’s game against the New York Mets.

Something In The Way They Roster Move

Pitching prospects Sean Newcomb and Patrick Weigel have been cut from the major league spring training squad. Newcomb was reassigned to minor league camp before yesterday’s game against the Yankees, Weigel sent over before today’s game.

Both pitchers are expected to start, so these moves allow them to prepare for rotation duties wherever they’ll be assigned.

Newcomb’s last outing was impressive, as he showed excellent command while getting four strikouts in two innings on Wednesday, three of those strikeouts looking at well-placed fastball.

About Andy Harris 97 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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