Braves sign Flaherty, Bourjos to 1-year deals
Additions provide MLB-ready depth, roster flexibility
ATLANTA -- With the late additions of Ryan Flaherty and Peter Bourjos, the Braves upgraded defensively and gained roster flexibility that will enhance the organization's Major League-ready depth.
Flaherty and Bourjos became the newest members of the Braves' organization when their respective one-year deals were officially announced by the team on Monday afternoon. The veteran bench additions were in uniform for Monday night's exhibition game against the Yankees.
"They're good acquisitions," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "They're big leaguers who should serve really good roles here."
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Flaherty served as the starting third baseman for Monday night's game, but his primary role will be to team with Charlie Culberson to provide the Braves two experienced and versatile backup infielders. Their potential value could increase if there are lingering concerns about Johan Camargo, the projected starting third baseman who will be on the disabled list until at least April 5 with soreness near his right oblique.
When Flaherty opted out of his Minor League contract with the Phillies last week, he drove to the Orlando area to stay with his friend and former Orioles teammate Nick Markakis. At the time, the two didn't know they were just days away from becoming teammates again.
"When you play with a young team, it's fun because everybody is energetic," Flaherty said. "I'm still trying to get to know everyone's name."
Bourjos provides tremendous speed and Gold Glove-caliber defense on Atlanta's bench. He has never lived up to early expectations from an offensive perspective, but his legs could provide value as a pinch-runner or late-innings defensive replacement.
"Adding quality defense is huge, I think that's where the game is going," Snitker said. "Flaherty is a really solid defensive player. Bourjos is a really above-average defensive outfielder. Getting 27 outs is going to be huge for us and not giving them more. With our pitching where it's at, we need to make all the plays that need to be made."
Along with upgrading defensively while working within their financial resources, the Braves also gained the roster flexibility that wouldn't have existed had they entered the season with a bench that included Lane Adams, Ezequiel Carrera and Danny Santana, who are all out of Minor League options.
Before signing these players, the Braves were projected to open the season with a five-man bench that would have consisted of a catcher -- Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki will essentially share the starting role -- along with Culberson, Adams, Carrera and Santana.
Barring another acquisition within the next two days, at least one of the latter three players will likely be on the Opening Day bench. Adams struggled to regain his swing throughout Spring Training, but he arguably has an advantage over the other two players because he is already on the 40-man roster.
Carrera and Santana are non-roster invitees who signed Minor League deals that do not include an opt-out clause. Thus, until they are added to the 40-man roster, there wouldn't be reason to worry about them being out of options.
Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos has essentially avoided the possibility of putting all of his eggs in one basket while gambling on the season-long success of players who are fighting to remain at the Major League level.
Depth significantly influences the level of success a team achieves every season. If the Braves were to open the season with Carrera and Santana on the bench, they would essentially provide themselves just one chance to form the right group of backup outfielders.
Ronald Acuna Jr. could join Atlanta's lineup within the next couple weeks, but beyond the club's top prospect, there hadn't been any attractive Major League-ready outfield options within the organization. Now the Braves will have the opportunity to take a chance on Bourjos and then potentially use Santana or Carrera as a fallback option.