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Culberson now FA; Soroka reinstated off IL

Braves sign switch-hitting former Padres outfielder Almonte
@mlbbowman
October 30, 2020

ATLANTA -- The Braves bid adieu to Charlie Culberson, signed a journeyman outfielder and activated starter Mike Soroka from the 60-man injured list while making some early offseason procedural moves on Friday. Culberson may elect to remain with the Braves, but for the second straight winter the team is giving

ATLANTA -- The Braves bid adieu to Charlie Culberson, signed a journeyman outfielder and activated starter Mike Soroka from the 60-man injured list while making some early offseason procedural moves on Friday.

Culberson may elect to remain with the Braves, but for the second straight winter the team is giving the beloved utility player a chance to test the free-agent market. The 31-year-old veteran tallied just seven plate appearances this year, but he was still placed on the team’s active roster throughout Atlanta’s postseason run.

If Culberson elects to rejoin the Braves like he did after being non-tendered last offseason, he and outfielder Abraham Almonte will be among those battling for Atlanta’s available bench spots. Almonte joins the organization after signing a non-guaranteed Major League contract for the 2021 season.

Almonte went 1-for-11 with the Padres this year and has produced a .607 OPS while totaling just 74 games with three clubs over the past three seasons. The 31-year-old switch-hitter provides some organizational depth.

Soroka, right-handed reliever Jeremy Walker and left-handed reliever Philip Pfeifer have all been activated from the 60-day IL. These procedural moves simply satisfied an MLB deadline put in place to prevent clubs from hiding 40-man roster members during the winter.

Walker (right shoulder impingement) and Pfeifer (left elbow contusion) were both put on the 60-day IL before the season started.

Soroka’s highly anticipated 2020 season quickly ended when he tore his right Achilles tendon in his third start. The Braves haven’t placed a definitive timetable on the 23-year-old hurler’s return, but there is at least some hope that he could be ready to make what would be a second straight Opening Day start.

“We know Mike is going to do everything he can [to be ready for Opening Day],” said Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos last week. “The work ethic is off the charts. We just want to make sure he doesn’t overdo it and try to come back too soon.”

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.