When signing Bud Norris, GM John Coppollela called the move an “upside play.” However, veterans such as Eric Stults and Trevor Cahill were proof last season that a lot of these “upside plays” do not always pan out. Yes, I am on the record as saying I’m not the biggest fan of bringing in a veteran to help boost our rotation. I would rather let the young arms that have hit the big leagues figure it out amongst themselves. However, if the Braves are looking for some external options for starters with upside, one guy who just hit the market comes to mind: A.J. Griffin.
In one of my recent articles, I profiled Fernando Abad as an ideal low-cost option for the Braves’ pitching staff. Now we will take a look at another Oakland A’s pitcher who was designated for assignment as well in A.J. Griffin. Griffin was ultimately handed his outright release from the team making him a free agent. So what makes him intriguing?
In 47 career starts, Griffin owns a 3.60 ERA with rates of 7.5 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9. The only knock to Griffin was that he was prone to giving up long balls, but he was a great mid-rotation arm for Oakland in 2012 and 2013. Unfortunately, Griffin ended up needing Tommy John Surgery in April of 2014, and he has had a long road to recovery. He experienced soreness in his elbow while recovering from the major surgery, but ended up making a few starts for various Athletics farm system affiliates. Griffin, a righty who features a fastball, curveball, cutter, and slider, is still just 27 and has a proven track record of success in the MLB.
It would be foolish for the team to not at least try to offer him a minor league deal to let him perhaps earn a roster spot in Spring Training. The Braves have not shied away from Tommy John patients in recent years, and I feel Griffin has much more upside than Norris. If the Braves plan on having an outside arm come in and help out, they cannot go into the season with Norris being their lone option. This move wouldn’t cost the Braves much, and this is a guy who put up similar production to Alex Wood during his time with Atlanta. Pick up the phone Coppy, you have nothing to lose.