Braves ink Hechavarria amid flurry of moves
Wilson recalled; Parsons designated for assignment; Camargo, Duvall optioned
ATLANTA -- Dansby Swanson might return to the starting lineup within the next couple of weeks, and Johan Camargo may eventually once again become a reliable defensive shortstop.
But recognizing they no longer had time to wait, the Braves signed Adeiny Hechavarria and optioned Camargo to Triple-A Gwinnett before Friday night’s series opener against the Dodgers. Hechavarria was immediately placed in the lineup and provided the ability to bring dependability back to the shortstop position until Swanson returns.
“[Hechavarria] is just somebody who adds depth and solidifies things for us,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said.
This was a no-risk move for the Braves, who will pay Hechavarria the pro-rated rate of the Major League minimum salary ($555,000) as long as he remains on the roster.
Hechavarria hit .204 and produced a .611 OPS over 151 plate appearances before being released by the Mets earlier this week. Once the 30-year-old veteran became available, the Braves jumped at the chance to compensate for the concerns that grew as Camargo’s defensive decline became more apparent over the past few weeks.
While Hechavarria is quite capable of providing value as a short-term fix, the Braves remain hopeful it won’t be long before they’re able to depend on Swanson, who was constructing the best season of his young career before he bruised his right heel on July 23.
A month after sustaining the injury that was initially expected to sideline him for just a little more than a week, Swanson is finally starting to show some progress. He was on the field throwing and completing some running exercises late Friday afternoon.
“He’s progressing,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s better today than he was yesterday. He did some running. He’s accelerated some of his defensive things. It’s all trending in a positive way.”
Even if Swanson continues to progress, he likely wouldn’t be cleared to begin playing in Minor League rehab games until late next week. His long absence will require him to play at least a handful of games before he is activated.
With that in mind, the Braves could not afford to spend another couple weeks depending on Camargo, who no longer has the range he possessed when he was considered the organization’s best all-around infielder.
Camargo’s defensive decline has added to the frustration he has felt while producing a .612 OPS over 236 plate appearances this year. The 25-year-old utility man was one of the team’s most valuable assets when he served as the starting third baseman last year. But he has not adjusted to his new backup role after Josh Donaldson was signed this past offseason.
“He’s still a young man with all of the ability in the world,” Anthopoulos said. “He should get back to where he was.”
Once Julio Teheran recorded just four outs and Josh Tomlin was needed to cover five innings in Thursday night’s loss, it was obvious the Braves would need to add bullpen depth to account for Tomlin being unavailable for the next few days.
Adam Duvall was unfortunately a casualty of this development. Duvall was optioned to Gwinnett to create a spot on the active roster for Bryse Wilson, who has posted a 0.33 ERA over his past four starts (27 innings) at the Triple-A level.
Duvall homered five times through the first six games he played after he returned to the Majors in late July. But the former All-Star has hit .116 with a .348 OPS over the 13 games that have followed. He was also the odd man out because the recently-promoted Rafael Ortega could have elected free agency had the Braves elected to remove him from their active roster.
To create a 40-man roster spot for Hechavarria, the Braves designated right-handed pitcher Wes Parsons for assignment.
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.