Braves Transactions: 8/4/17-8/7/17 – A Two-Trade Weekend

Placed LHP Ian Krol on the 10-day DL with a strained left oblique. (8/4)

Activated RHP Jason Motte from the 10-day DL. (8/4)

Traded OF Randy Ventura to the Cincinnati Reds for $1,250,000 in international pool money. (8/4)

Signed FA RHP Manny Bareda to a minor league contract; Assigned Bareda to AAA Gwinnett. (8/4)

Optioned RHP Jason Hursh to AAA Gwinnett. (8/5)

Traded UT Sean Rodriguez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for 3B Connor Joe. Assigned Joe to AA Mississippi. (8/5)

Recalled LHP Max Fried from AA Mississippi. (8/5)

Recalled UT Jace Peterson from AAA Gwinnett. (8/5)

Activated AAA Gwinnett 3B Kyle Kubitza from the 7-day DL. (8/5)

Activated AA Mississippi SS Luis Valenzuela from the 7-day DL. (8/5)

Promoted RHP Josh Graham from A+ Florida to AA Mississippi. (8/5)

Demoted RHP Junior Rincon from AA Mississippi to A+ Florida. (8/5)

Placed A+ Florida LHP Joe Rogers on the 7-day DL. (8/5)

Demoted LHP Tucker Davidson from A- Rome to R- Danville. (8/5)

Demoted LHP Troy Conyers from A- Rome to R- Danville. (8/5)

Promoted LHP Taylor Hyssong from R-Danville to A- Rome. (8/5)

Promoted LF Bradley Keller from R-Danville to A- Rome. (8/5)

Promoted RHP Walter Borkovich from R-Danville to A-Rome. (8/5)

Sent RHP Dan Winkler to AAA Gwinnett on a rehab assignment. (8/6)

Placed AAA Gwinnett RHP Rhiner Cruz on the 7-day DL. (8/6)

Sent RHP Matt Withrow to A+ Florida on a rehab assignment. Assigned Withrow to Florida. (8/6-7)

Max Fried (Photo: Kyle Hess / Rome Braves)

Placed LHP Ian Krol on the 10-day DL with a strained left oblique

Krol is giving up nearly 2 HR per 9 innings, has less than 2 Ks per BB, and sports a DRA of 6.06, so either this oblique has been hurting Krol for a while or it’s a more convenient injury to avail the team of his services for a bit.

Activated RHP Jason Motte from the 10-day DL

BABIP has been kind to Motte (.231) this year, and he still has a 3.85 ERA. That’s because he walks too many compared to the strikeouts he generates and he allows too many home runs. He’s a replacement level pitcher, but that might constitute an upgrade over some options Atlanta has seen in the pen this year.

Traded OF Randy Ventura to the Cincinnati Reds for $1,250,000 in international pool money

The switch-hitting CF has a good hit tool and decent base-stealing ability so far. He’s expected to retain the hit tool but be more average speed-wise as he fills out and adds some power to his game. He’s one the team might miss – hit tools can carry a guy farther than others, after all. At the same time, perhaps the organization isn’t as high on that hit tool now as scouts were in the preseason – after posting a 60 BB, 57 K split over his first two years in Rookie Ball, Ventura has 24 BBs and 83 Ks in just over 400 Low-A plate appearances in 2017. Bat control was his calling card, and he’s turned into a K-machine, at least compared to what he was before.

Thanks to Atlanta’s spending bonanza during last year’s international signing period, the team is under some severe penalties for this year. That was by design – Atlanta overspent in a deeper class to get the big name prospects it really wanted. This time, the organization can’t sign a player for more than $300,000. By adding this money, Atlanta doesn’t change that. They just increase their pool size from $4,750,000 to $6,000,000. This won’t allow Atlanta to chase down a bigger name. It will allow the team to sign at least 4 extra players, maybe more. While these players won’t have the sizzle on prospect boards that bigger names will, they still often turn into very nice prospects. In 2013, Atlanta signed Ozzie Albies for just $350,000, after all.

Signed FA RHP Manny Barreda to a minor league contract; Assigned Barreda to AAA Gwinnett

Less than a month ago, Manny Barreda pitched a 14 K no-hitter while pitching for the Toros de Tijuana. He exhausted himself in the process, throwing 135 pitches. It was only his 4th game over 100 this year, and his first to even hit 106. He didn’t pitch again for 12 days, and upon his return got shelled – 3.2 innings, 9 hits, 6 runs. It’s not unusual for pitchers to come back flat after going past their limits to complete no-hitters, and Barreda was no exception. Tijuana released him, and he returns to the Atlanta organization. In his first start at Gwinnett, he went 4.1 innings, allowed 5 hits, walked 5, and gave up 3 runs. The after-effects of the no-hitter likely weren’t very good for Barreda’s MLB chances, but he’s 28 and pitching in the Mexican League. Maybe that moment of glory was completely worth it at this point.

Optioned RHP Jason Hursh to AAA Gwinnett

By this point, we know what Hursh is. First guy up, first guy down.

Traded UT Sean Rodriguez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for 3B Connor Joe; Assigned Joe to AA Mississippi

It’s unfortunate that Rodriguez’s time in Atlanta didn’t work out better. Because of a car accident that put him on the shelf for an extended time, Rodriguez’s 2017 was derailed before it even began. He wound up batting just 47 times with Atlanta. The trade likely comes from suddenly having a glut of cheap and/or talented players capable of playing 2B, 3B, and LF, the positions Rodriguez was most likely to help out at. Ozzie Albies developed faster than the team probably expected and wound up in the majors in August. Johan Camargo can play multiple infield positions and appears to be a cheap utility option going forward. Jace Peterson may not be able to do everything Rodriguez does offensively, but he’s another defensively versatile player who costs much less. And, now that Freddie Freeman has returned to 1B, Matt Adams is giving LF the old college try (it’s a college where defense is more of an elective). Rodriguez’s place on the roster is much less obvious now than when he signed for 2 years, $11.5M (2017: $5M, 2018: $5M, $1.5 signing bonus). He’s 32, and you don’t sign 32 year olds for multi-year deals so you can get the back end years. The back end years exist so you can ensure you get them on the front end. The Braves gave Rodriguez a 2018 contract so they could have him in 2017. He did make some changes in 2015, his breakout season in Pittsburgh, and perhaps those changes can carry him into his mid-thirties. Perhaps getting back to Pittsburgh will help him rediscover the resurgence. Still, the Braves got out of a future commitment to a 32 year old career .233/.304/.391 hitter that’s not filling a need at the time. It’s pretty hard to find too much fault in that.

Joe Connor was born in 1874, played with 5 teams over parts of 4 seasons, batted .199/.257/.251 for his career, and posted a career WARP of exactly 0.0. Connor Joe is a good bet to match that WARP, because it still seems unlikely his defensive limitations and flat swing will allow him and his raw power to blossom enough to reach the major leagues. He does has talent, but he’s at best a lottery ticket project, at most likely an organizational filler, and at worst, the same .240/.338/.380 hitter he was in Altoona this year.

Recalled LHP Max Fried from AA Mississippi

2017 has been a struggle for Fried, what with a 2-11 record and a 5.92 ERA. Most of us know that record doesn’t tell us much about performance, and that remains true here. While 2-11 may not mean Fried isn’t pitching well, the constant losing can be a psychological drain on a player. It’s nice that Fried won’t see that record on the scoreboard anymore, because he really hasn’t been THAT bad this year. A 4.08 FIP and 3.74 DRA aren’t metrics to write home about, but they’re a far cry better than the ERA. Fried still walks too many batters, but he also has been victimized by an unlucky .331 BABIP. Atlanta plans to let Fried finish out ’17 with some relief innings in the majors, but expect him to return to a minor league rotation next spring.

Recalled UT Jace Peterson from AAA Gwinnett

The Jason Hursh of the infield.

Activated AAA Gwinnett 3B Kyle Kubitza from the 7-day DL

Perhaps the (undisclosed) injury was what had been hampering Kubitza… since 2015. It doesn’t seem likely.

Activated AA Mississippi SS Luis Valenzuela from the 7-day DL

It’s good that his DL stay was short, because Valenzuela needs more plate appearances. The glove appears to be in good shape, but he’s going to need to improve on .262/.295/.374, and the only way to do so is with added minor league experience.

Promoted RHP Josh Graham from A+ Florida to AA Mississippi

Graham had a 4.69 ERA at the time of his promotion, but it’s a misleading ERA driven by a .323 BABIP. Graham has actually been rather impressive, notching 10.5 K/9 to just 3.4 BB/9, posting healthy advanced metrics (2.33 FIP, 2.20 DRA), and not yet allowing a single home run this season. The 2015 4th rounder has only been pitching since his Junior season at Oregon, but he’s a legitimate relief prospect.

Demoted RHP Junior Rincon from AA Mississippi to A+ Florida

Rincon continues his quest for prominence in the OFR tag cloud.

Placed A+ Florida LHP Joe Rogers on the 7-day DL

Rogers has been wild and mostly ineffective this season. BABIP is often luck-based, but when it’s over .400 at every stop, as it is with Rogers, you start to wonder if it’s something the pitcher is doing. Perhaps this DL stint is related.

Demoted LHP Tucker Davidson from A- Rome to R- Danville

Don’t look at this as a performance-based demotion, because it’s hard to see how it would be. Davidson has a 2.83 ERA, a 2.99 FIP, and a 4.07 DRA at Rome this year, and that’s with an unlucky .347 BABIP. He has been a jack of many trades, starting 7 games and picking up 2 saves across 19 relief appearances. He gets groundballs and strikeouts while limiting walks. This demotion may simply be short-term roster maneuvering or it’s related to managing Davidson’s development in some way. Either way, I wouldn’t be alarmed with his going backward in this instance.

Demoted LHP Troy Conyers from A- Rome to R- Danville

Conyers made 3 relief appearances in Rome, each lasting 3 innings, and left with a 2.00 ERA and 9 strikeouts. Like Davidson, this isn’t that he didn’t cut it in Rome. This is either roster maneuvering or just part of the plan for Conyers.

Promoted LHP Taylor Hyssong from R-Danville to A- Rome

In 15 innings at Danville, Hyssong wasn’t bad (3.86 ERA, 4.21 FIP, 4.02 DRA), but he wasn’t exactly forcing a promotion. Hyssong hasn’t pitched since July 31, so this might merely be roster maneuvering for reasons we don’t know.

Promoted LF Bradley Keller from R-Danville to A- Rome

A 15th rounder in 2015, Keller has been splendid at Danville, slashing .306/.360/.597. After starting August with 9 total bases on the 1st and 8 on the 4th, the Braves correctly wanted to see what the 20 year old could do against more advanced pitching. Picking up 6 total bases in his debut, Keller has already rewarded the organization for the decision.

Promoted RHP Walter Borkovich from R-Danville to A-Rome

The lanky right-hander has pitched so little this year, it’s hard to get a good feel for whether he’s earned it, but he has been somewhat successful in his limited play.

Sent RHP Dan Winkler to AAA Gwinnett on a rehab assignment

The Braves have kept Winkler around, creatively, for several years, and unfortunately, thanks to injury issues, the major league team has gotten 4 innings out of him for all their trouble. What Winkler flashed to open the 2016 season indicates that, when healthy, he’s worth the effort, and it’s nice to see him on the comeback trail.

Placed AAA Gwinnett RHP Rhiner Cruz on the 7-day DL

It’s unfortunate, as Cruz had really taken big steps in 2017 to get back on the path to the major leagues. After two years in Houston in 2012-2013, control issues had kept Cruz in the minors. However, he appears to have corrected things in ’17, walking just 3.8 batters per 9. With his 11.3 K/9 and 2.93 ERA (3.18 FIP, 2.99 DRA) over a large sample of relief work, there was reason to believe Cruz might get a late season call-up. He still might, if the DL stint is short.

Sent RHP Matt Withrow to A+ Florida on a rehab assignment, assigned Withrow to A+ Florida

Boy, that’s a tedious heading. Initially, Withrow was only sent to Florida to rehab, with the idea that he’d return to Mississippi. But Withrow really hasn’t been all that good in Mississippi, posting a 4.47 ERA, 4.93 FIP, and 4.57 DRA. After one rehab appearance in which he walked 2 and gave up a run, the organization decided to just leave him in Florida indefinitely, turning the rehab stint into a demotion.

About Brent Blackwell 171 Articles
Brent Blackwell also writes for College Football By The Numbers at www.cfbtn.com.

1 Comment

  1. Joe Connor/Connor Joe, nice clear explanation on the international bonus pool, Tijuana shows gratitude for no-hitter by releasing Manny Barreda (hopefully after his bobble head doll night) — interesting info and fun to read. But is it possible to leave out Jason Hursh references for a while — each time I read his name I’m reminded that the Yankees snagged Aaron Judge with the very next draft pick.

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