Braves cut into their already-thin depth by releasing Garcia
When Freddy Garcia signed a Minor League contract with the Braves in January, he seemingly stood as insurance for rotation that at the time was expected to include Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor.
But as the Braves prepare to open the upcoming season with a rotation that will be void of Medlen, Beachy and Minor, they have opted to take the gamble of cutting into their already-thin depth by cutting ties with Garcia.
Shortly after arriving at Champion Stadium early Monday afternoon, Garcia was surprised to learn the Braves had given him his unconditional release. The Braves had until Monday to inform Garcia whether he would be on Atlanta’s Opening Day roster.
Garcia’s Minor League contract provided him a guarantee of $1.25 million if he was ever placed on Atlanta’s roster. The 37-year-old veteran pitcher has spent the past six weeks repeatedly saying that he will not pitch at the Minor League level this year.
“I’ve got nothing to say,” Garcia said. “They made a decision and I’ve got to deal with that.”
There is a chance the Braves could acquire a starting pitcher within the next week. But as things currently stand, it appears they will open the season with a four-man rotation that consists of Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, David Hale and Gus Schlosser.
Teheran, Wood, Hale and Schlosser have combined for 47 career starts. Teheran is the only member of this quartet who has made as many as 12 career starts.
The Braves plan to go to a five-man rotation when the recently-signed Ervin Santana is ready to be activated during the regular season’s second week. This rotation will be further fortified when Gavin Floyd and Mike Minor are deemed ready.
Floyd and Minor are currently projected to be join Atlanta’s rotation during April’s fourth week, when the Braves are a little more than 20 games into the 162-game season.
If Santanta, Floyd and Minor all remain on track, Garcia’s value would significant ly decrease by the end of April. But given that Medlen and Beachy have already been lost to season-ending elbow injuries, the Braves are seemingly taking a gamble by parting ways with Garcia and minimizing their already-thin starting pitching depth.
Garcia did not allow an earned run in three of his five Grapefruit League starts. After struggling in two consecutive outings, including the one he made while his wife was in labor, he limited the Mets to two hits and one unearned run over 5 1/3 innings on Sunday.
Schlosser, who has never pitched above the Double-A level, has provided some indication that he could be more effective than Garcia in the rotation. But given the limited amount of depth the Braves will have for at least the next three weeks, there was reason to wonder if the Braves would at least keep Garcia around by using him as a long reliever.