The Braves have addressed their biggest weakness from the 2015 season this offseason: the bullpen. The team has made a handful of moves to bolster this unit, and have a lot of guys returning from injuries who will be huge upgrades. That being said, the team has still lacked an effective left-handed reliever. Ian Krol was acquired in the Cameron Maybin deal, but he’s far from a proven option. Andrew McKirahan and Matt Marksberry were simply not effective last season. However, the team has made an under-the-radar signing to address this need in the signing of Alex Torres.
You probably know who Torres is without realizing it. He’s the dude with the funny looking helmet-hat. He has a career 2.68 ERA in parts of 4 seasons in the big leagues in stints with the Rays, Padres, and most recently the Mets. Having this type of NL East experience is surely beneficial, and he immediately becomes the best lefty in our bullpen. However, this does not mean that he comes without some baggage.
Torres is a lot like James Russell, a reliever the Braves traded for in 2014. He is somewhat of an outlier, a southpaw who is much more effective against right-handed batters than left-handed ones. This was a big part in Russell being handed his release during Spring Training last season. He also has had issues walking batters, owning a 5 BB/9 rate for his career. These were all factors in him being designated for assignment by the Mets last August.
The good news for the Braves is that Torres is signed to a minor league deal. He should make the team, but this does not mean the team should shut the door on looking at other lefty options.
This is a nice low-risk, high-reward move for the Braves.