Braves bring back a free agent bullpen piece

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The Atlanta Braves announced on Monday that the club agreed to a one-year, non-guaranteed split contract with Jackson Stephens.

Stephens was DFA’d after the club acquired Dennis Santana a month or so ago but comes back with a chance to carve out a big league roster spot; the Braves’ 40-man roster is now full.

Stephens had an up-and-down 2022 campaign. He assumed a long relief role and mopped up some games, finishing the season with a 3.69 ERA over 53.2 innings.

His season started off incredible, as he served a valuable role for the Braves as an inning-eater. In his first 36.2 innings, Stephens posted a 2.45 ERA. He pitched out of his mind and was even thought of as the 2022 version of Tyler Matzek by our own Jake Gordon — a 1.23 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in his first 14.2 innings pitched at the time of the writing.

Though he had his moments, Stephens fell off towards the end of the season. Over the season’s final two months, he posted a 5.49 ERA over 19.2 innings pitched.

Jackson Stephens is a remarkable story, beginning his career in Cincinnati with the Reds in 2012, then fighting all the way back through the Mexican League before landing in Atlanta. In what should be an extremely deep bullpen in 2023, Stephens will have a tough road to make the major league roster.

As it stands right now, the Braves will turn to some combination of Joe Jiménez, A.J. Minter, Collin McHugh, Dylan Lee, Nick Anderson, Kirby Yates, and Santana, with Raisel Iglesias set to close games in 2023.

David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire


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