Braves ink speedy Young to Minor League deal
ATLANTA -- The Braves extended their tireless and relentless roster reconstruction process on Friday by signing veteran outfielder Eric Young Jr. to a Minor League contract.
Young will come to Spring Training with a legitimate shot to win a spot on the Opening Day roster. The speedy, switch-hitting outfielder has the potential to enrich the Braves' bench and possibly serve as Jonny Gomes' platoon partner in left field.
With Gomes set to primarily play left field against left-handed starting pitchers, the Braves will now have to determine whether Young, Zoilo Almonte or possibly Todd Cunningham would be the best option to serve as the left-handed complement of this platoon.
Though Young certainly has more experience than the other two top candidates, he will have to provide some indication that he is capable of being more productive than he was last year, when he batted .229 with 30 stolen bases and a .610 OPS in 100 games with the Mets.
Since hitting .316 in 98 games for the 2012 Rockies, Young has batted .242 with a .306 on-base percentage. But the 76 stolen bases (93 attempts) that the 29-year-old veteran has totaled during this two-year span provides some indication of why the Braves might be willing to take a chance on his ability to enhance their power-depleted offense with his speed.
Young batted .230 with a .316 on-base percentage against right-handed pitchers last year and .225 with a .253 OBP against lefties. While splitting the 2013 season with the Rockies and Mets, he produced a .244/.305/.341 slash line in 409 plate appearances against righties and a .259/.319/.324 slash line in 189 PAs against lefties.
Many Braves fans will remember Young as the player who inadvertently stepped on and fractured Tim Hudson's right ankle in the midst of a bang-bang play at first base on July 24, 2013, at Citi Field.