The Hot Stove is on a simmer across Major League Baseball as the world waits for Shohei Ohtani to make his decision so the rest of the dominos can begin to fall, but that’s not the case in Atlanta for the Braves.
Alex Anthopoulos has been wheeling and dealing, making trades and free-agent deals left and right. Most notably, the GM brought back a pair of relievers in Pierce Johnson and Joe Jimenez while trading for Aaron Bummer and Jarred Kelenic. The Braves also signed Reynaldo Lopez to a three-year deal, who they plan to stretch out as a starter.
Some familiar faces have made other arrangements. Yesterday, we learned that Ben Heller won’t be back in Atlanta after inking a deal with the Pirates. Another Anthopoulos project won’t return either.
According to Mark Feinsand, Michael Tonkin is signing a split contract with the Mets, joining the Braves’ division rivals.
Tonkin had the typical career arc that interests Anthopoulos. From 2013 to 2017, he posted a 4.43 ERA over 146.1 innings with the Twins but didn’t play in the majors until AA found him. He saw time in Japan, the Mexican League, independent ball, and the minors. Once he returned to the big leagues, his versatility became a weapon for Brian Snitker.
Michael Tonkin posted a 4.28 ERA over 45 appearances and 80 innings last season while often going multiple frames. Though his peripherals weren’t stellar, just making it back to the majors as a regular has to be viewed as a success.
The Braves opted to non-tender Tonkin, despite the palatable $1 million arbitration projection. It makes sense, though, because Atlanta was quite aggressive in moving most of their arb-eligible players as Anthopoulos looked to upgrade those areas, particularly the relief core.
With the Mets, Michael Tonkin will likely garner similar opportunities as an innings eater. Long relief isn’t a sexy title, but it’s necessary. I wish nothing but the best for Michael Tonkin, unless it’s against the Braves.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire