The Atlanta Braves made a move that may have surprised some of the fans of the feathered, as the team announced that they had designated third baseman Juan Francisco for assignment to make room for rookie reliever Alex Wood, who debuted for the team in Thursday’s 11-3 victory over the Blue Jays.
For those who are not familiar with the terms of being designated, this means that the Braves have removed Francisco, who holds a .241 batting average with 5 homeruns and 16 RBIs in 2013, from their active 40-man roster and will have to place him on waivers, which may lead to the team trading the twenty-five year old or giving him his outright release. If a move has not been made in ten days, the team has the option to add Francisco back to the forty-man roster.
Although Francisco had his moments for the Braves this season, his recent struggles (only seven hits in the month of May), the emergence of Ramiro Pena (batting .371 with 6 RBIs in May) as a utility man that can easily backup the reliable Chris Johnson, and the need for another arm in the bullpen, all added up to Francisco’s exit from the roster.
How much will Francisco’s assumed absence from the team hurt their up-and-down offense? Despite his ability to perform from time to time, I personally don’t expect the squad to be ailing due to his exit; after all, if that was a possibility, would he even be put in this position? The Braves have practically their entire bench hitting great at this point in time thanks to great play from Pena, Jordan Schafer, Evan Gattis, and Reed Johnson, just to name a few, so Francisco’s departure should not have a very damaging effect on this squad.
The question now for Braves fans should not be whether Francisco’s exit will hurt the team, but rather if Wood’s call-up will be enough to patch the hole that has emerged in Atlanta’s bullpen. A second round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft by the Braves, Wood pitched spectacularly at AA Mississippi (4-2 with a 1.26 ERA in ten starts), Wood will face the tough task of helping fill in for the likes of Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty, who have both been lost for the season due to Tommy Johns surgery. While Wood’s solid ninth inning for Atlanta on Thursday helped bring an end to an 8-run win, growing pains should be expected as Wood’s playing time increases, which may ultimately decide if this group of relievers becomes reliable or a liability for the rest of the season.
How do you think the Francisco subtraction/Wood addition will affect the Braves? Leave a comment and let your opinion be heard.