On December 17, 2014, the Braves sent reliever Anthony Varvaro to the Red Sox in exchange for Minor League reliever Aaron Kurcz. This move came two days after the Braves designated Varvaro for assignment. Both of these moves were very surprising, as Varvaro was a member of Atlanta’s bullpen for four seasons and has been one of their best relievers in the past couple years. I always felt Varvaro was underutilized by Fredi Gonzalez. Varvaro’s ability to get out lefties will be missed this year in the Braves bullpen. The only sensible explanation for this trade is with the Red Sox entering Kurcz into the Rule 5 Draft and the Braves designating Varvaro, they swapped pieces they both deemed expendable. In Kurcz, the Braves do acquire a guy who had a lot of success last year in AA and projects to be a big league middle reliever in a couple of years. He had a 2.14 ERA in 34 appearances last year with 11.6 Ks per 9 innings. Kurcz projects to be a player very similar to Varvaro and at 24. I would guess he starts the year in Gwinnett this year. The Braves got younger with this trade, but it is yet to be seen whether John Hart made the right move moving Varvaro. The Braves could have simply claimed Kurcz in the Rule 5 Draft if they were truly high on his ability. This is a very puzzling move for many Braves fans, but perhaps the organization knows something we do not. Kurcz could end up being a great fixture in the bullpen when Suntrust Park opens.
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