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The Atlanta Braves continued adding depth today, with their first waiver claim of the 2020 offseason.
Just after lunch today, the Atlanta Braves official Twitter account announced that the team had claimed utility infielder Jack Mayfield off waivers from the Astros. Mayfield’s addition to the 40-man roster is the second in two days and brings the total to 38.
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The departure of Charlie Culberson and Adeiny Hechavarria, and the Atlanta Braves growling frustration with Johan Camargo, meant the team needed a defensively-oriented infielder for depth.
Mayfield grew up in Del Rio, Texas, and played shortstop for Del Rio high school and earned Honorable mention on the Rawlings® and Perfect Game USA Texas Region team after graduation in 2009.
He attended the University of Oklahoma in Norman and played for the Sooners for the next four seasons. As a freshman, he played short, second, and pitched, finishing the season batting .235/.349/.294/.643 in 34 PA and pitching to a 2.47 ERA in 17 games, including five starts.
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Mayfield pitched in 2011 as well, before moving to middle-infield for good in 2012, batting ..266/.338/.399/.737 in 589 PA, walking 33 times and striking out 56.
The Braves have had an interesting offseason so far. On one hand, they have managed to add legitimate talent to an already skilled depth chart.
Atlanta reached a one-year agreement with former Rays pitcher Charlie Morton. While the 37-year-old is toward the end of his career, he is still a dangerous pitcher with a major postseason pedigree.
The team also bolstered their pitching staff by adding pitcher Drew Smyly. Despite posting an inconsistent seven-year major league career, the lefty starter enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2020.
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The team has also managed to add depth in the form of RHP Josh Tomlin, RHP Luke Jackson, infielder Jack Mayfield, and OF Abraham Almonte.
Overall, the Braves have had a productive offseason. The franchise already has one of the most dangerous offenses in the league. Now, they’ve managed to add some legitimate pitching to complement their younger arms.
However, the Braves still have a noticeable gap in their lineup that was formerly held by Marcell Ozuna. The former All-Star, who was a massive part of the team’s offense in 2020, is currently a free agent. Atlanta needs to find a way to retain their star hitter or sign a comparable talent to complete their offseason. Otherwise, they will have a noticeable hole in the lineup.
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Offseason Grade: A (with Ozuna) / B (without Ozuna)
The Phillies feel lightyears away from their breakout off seasons of years past. The team that once offering huge contracts to Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler now find themselves in a quite rebuilding mode.
Philly was able to address their biggest need, the bullpen, by declining the option of former closer Hector Neris and trading for flamethrower lefty Jose Alvarado. They also supplemented this move with the recent signing of former closer Archie Bradley. Both of these additions will make a noticeable impact on the next incarnation of the team. Otherwise, Philadelphia has added some veterans on minor league deals and made a handful of other small moves.
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However, the team also appears likely to lose superstar catcher JT Realmuto in free agency. This will have a noticeable impact on their offense and defense in 2021 and beyond. Should Realmuto spurn Philly and sign elsewhere, it would severely hamper their offseason success.
At the end of the day, the Phillies are at serious risk of losing a key member of their team in exchange for two solid relief arms. They must find a way to keep Realmuto. Or, at the very least, salvage the loss by adding someone else to fill his role.
Offseason Grade: C-
Miami has had a slow, but steady, offseason. The surprise 2020 postseason team saw their transition from rebuilder to contenders happen far quicker than anyone expected.
The franchise’s major transactions with on-field talent involve names that most baseball fans are unfamiliar with. However, the team has filled their GM position with a universally praised addition of Kim Ng.
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The team needs to address holes in their bullpen. They should also be seeking depth in several other areas. However, the small market team seems to be in a good position to add players as needed later in the offseason.
Offseason Grade: B
The 2019 World Series champs seem to be preparing for another run at the postseason. Despite playing in ridiculously deep NL East, the Nats are building a win-now 2021 roster.
Washington’s most notable move was the acquisition of former All-Star 1B Josh Bell. They also added a second impact bat in OF Kyle Schwarber.
Additionally, the Nationals tendered contracts to superstars Juan Soto and Trea Turner. They also re-signed starter Joe Ross, as well as a plethora of more minor moves.
Washington expects to have their three-headed pitching monster of Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, and Stephen Strasburg back in full form. They have also made enough additions to complete for a playoff spot this season.
Mayfield signed with the Astros as an undrafted free agent in June 2013 and played 55 games between Rookie and A-Ball. He reached AA in 2015 and made his AAA debut the following season with Fresno in the PCL. In 2017 he split time between AA and AAA, finally moving to AAA permanently in 2018.
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In his last two years of AAA-Ball, Mayfield posted a 278/.337/.508/.845 line that including 57 doubles, two triples, and 26 homers, walking 70 times and striking out 170 times in 910 PA, 813 AB. He split 2019 between AAA and Houston and was part of the Astros 60-player pool for 2020.
While Mayfield has shown some pop, his bat hasn’t consistently caught up with Major League pitching yet. Mayfield looks like a dependable defender at short, second, and third, something the Atlanta Braves needed after the departure of both Hechavarria and Culberson.
The Atlanta Braves can stash their new infielder at Gwinnett this year and next, as Mayfield has two option years remaining.
Mayfield is the second depth piece added in the last week. On November 13, the team signed RHP Emmanuel Ramirez to a minor league deal. Ramirez kicked around the Padres system for the past six seasons but was unable to stick at AAA. The Friars used him as a starter, and the Atlanta Braves will probably do the same, with Pearl his likely home to start 2021.
That’s a wrap
Mayfield and Ramirez aren’t going to move the needle much, but every team needs depth, and Mayfield, in particular, fills an important vacancy. You may follow Mayfield on Twitter and Instagram, as @jackmayfield8.
NEXT: If we have two Kyles, is that Kyle squared?
Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll see more moves like this, perhaps including signing a non-tendered player or two when the final names come out. When that happens, we’ll let you know here on The Take.