HomeMLB RumorsBraves Sign Joey Wendle - MLB Trade Rumors

Braves Sign Joey Wendle – MLB Trade Rumors

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The Braves announced a series of roster moves today, signing infielder Joey Wendle and recalling left-hander Ray Kerr. In corresponding moves, infielder Luke Williams was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett while right-hander AJ Smith-Shawver was placed on the 15-day injured list with a strained left oblique. The club already had a 40-man vacancy for Wendle. Smith-Shawver has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 strain, the team told reporters (link via Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). The team didn’t provide any kind of timetable, but Toscano writes that a Grade 2 oblique strain typically requires a six-to-eight absence.

Wendle, 34, is a veteran utility player who signed with the Mets in the offseason, a one-year deal with a $2MM guarantee. He was kept in a limited role, only getting into 18 games during his roughly six weeks on the Mets, stepping to the plate 37 times in that stretch. He hit just .222/.243/.250, a continuation of his rough 2023 with the Marlins, as he hit just .212/.248/.306  last year.

The Mets released him earlier this week and are on the hook for the remainder of Wendle’s salary. Atlanta will only be responsible for the prorated league minimum for as long as Wendle is on their roster, with that amount subtracted from what the Mets pay.

Atlanta has been rotating various players through their bench infielder role this year, with each of David Fletcher, Luis Guillorme, Zack Short and Williams getting a look for that job. Short is still on the roster and has been the club’s regular third baseman lately with Austin Riley battling an an intercostal strain.

By bumping Williams down to Gwinnett and adding Wendle, the club adds a bit more infield depth at essentially no cost, given that the Mets are covering the bulk of the money and that Atlanta had an open roster spot to use anyway. Wendle hasn’t been hitting much lately but has plenty of experience at the three infield spots to the left of first base, as well as brief stints in the outfield corners. He has generally received strong grades wherever he has played and can give Atlanta some glove-first depth all over the diamond, while Williams can get more regular playing time on the farm.

On the pitching side of things, Atlanta got thrown off their plans a bit on the weekend. Saturday’s game against the Padres was rained out and pushed to a Monday double-header. In Sunday’s game, Bryce Elder was torched for six earned runs in three innings, forcing Kerr to come in and throw 3 1/3 innings of relief, followed by two other pitchers and then Williams mopping up a frame.

Elder was optioned prior to the double-header so that the club could bring in two fresh arms, one of them being the “27th man” for Monday. That allowed Atlanta to bring up both Darius Vines and Daysbel Hernández. Over the two games, five different relievers were used, leaving the bullpen fairly taxed. Kerr was optioned to get the roster back down to 26. Thanks to the double-header, each of Chris Sale, Reynaldo López, Charlie Morton and Max Fried started in a span of three days from Monday to Wednesday. With Elder having been optioned, they had to recall Smith-Shawver to start yesterday’s game and now Kerr will take the ball today in what is likely to be a bullpen game. Pitchers normally have to wait 15 days after being optioned before they can be recalled, but an exception is made when someone else goes on the IL.

Atlanta has seemingly been stretching out Kerr of late, either by design or necessity or both. His four appearances for the big league club this year have gone one inning, two innings, three innings and then three and a third. Overall, he has a 2.89 earned run average in 9 1/3 innings, striking out 27% of opponents without issuing a walk.

That’s a small sample size but perhaps intriguing enough for Atlanta to ride the hot hand for a while. Smith-Shawver is going to miss at least 15 days with this injury and Spencer Strider is out for the year. Elder was just optioned after posting a 6.46 ERA in five starts this year. Huascar Ynoa and Ian Anderson are injured in the minors. Allan Winans and Dylan Dodd each have a 4.50 ERA in Triple-A this year but with uninspiring peripherals.

Kerr was a starter in the minors back before the pandemic but has been kept in relief since then. His numbers as a reliever certainly catch the eye, as he has punched out 27.9% of batters faced in the majors, between his time with San Diego and Atlanta. In 134 minor league innings from 2021 to the present, he has a 3.69 ERA, 33.4% strikeout rate but 12.9% walk rate. Perhaps Atlanta can manufacture another reliever-to-starter success story as they have done with López this year, or perhaps this will just be a spot start for Kerr, which may depend upon how he looks against the Pirates today.

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