LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Braves have signed outfielder Drew Stubbs to a Minor League contract and invited him to spend the final days of Spring Training fighting for a spot on the Opening Day roster.Stubbs arrived in Braves camp late Wednesday afternoon and is expected to play in
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Braves have signed outfielder Drew Stubbs to a Minor League contract and invited him to spend the final days of Spring Training fighting for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Stubbs arrived in Braves camp late Wednesday afternoon and is expected to play in Thursday's game against the Orioles in Sarasota. The 31-year-old outfielder exercised his opt-out provision on Tuesday when it was apparent that he was not going to be added to the Rangers' Major League roster.
The addition of Stubbs just three days before the conclusion of Spring Training signals that the Braves are not satisfied with their backup outfield candidates.
When the Braves announced on Tuesday that Jeff Francoeur would be part of their Opening Day roster, it was assumed the club would create a roster spot for him by parting ways with either Emilio Bonifacio or Michael Bourn. But now that Stubbs has arrived, there is a chance that both Bonifacio and Bourn could be looking for a new organization by the end of this week.
Stubbs would provide a solid defensive option in center field on the days when the Braves want to sit Ender Inciarte against a left-handed starter. He also still possesses some of the speed that helped him record at least 30 stolen bases for the Reds from 2010-12. But there is some reason to question whether he will prove consistent enough at the plate to provide value with his legs.
After batting .289 with an .821 OPS over 424 plate appearances for the Rockies in 2014, Stubbs hit .195 with a .665 OPS over 140 plate appearances with the Rockies and Rangers last year.
Stubbs hit .300 (12-for-40), tallied two home runs and recorded three stolen bases in 19 Spring Training games with Texas this year.
Bonifacio seemed to be the likely odd man out when the Braves opted to carry Francoeur. But now Bourn might spend the final days of camp battling with Stubbs for a roster spot.
Bourn's value is diminished by the fact that the Braves already have a left-handed-hitting center fielder in Inciarte, who is expected to man the position on an everyday basis. But he's a high-character veteran who enriches the clubhouse and also provides a left-handed-hitting backup option to Hector Olivera in left field.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.