Losing fan-favorite Charlie Clutch is a tough pill for die-hard Braves fans to swallow. Along with his timely hitting and ability to play every position, Culberson was a class act above all, but it is a business and its time to move forward. With the MLB expanding rosters to 26 men and 13 maximum pitchers, the Braves have a new need to address: finding a viable backup infielder.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com thinks that non-tendering Culberson “may increase the odds of the Braves re-signing Adeiny Hechavarria.” Given the way he performed in Atlanta, it makes a ton of sense.
In 24 games with the Braves, Hechavarria hit .328 with a 1.039 OPS, all while playing elite defense. It is a tiny sample size, and that type of OPS is nearly impossible for anyone to sustain. He is due for some regression, and his career numbers suggest it could hit hard. There is a reason he has played for five different clubs over the last two seasons.
With that being said, perhaps Hechavarria found some type of comfort level in the Braves’ clubhouse. He was never shy about reminding the city how appreciative he was for their support. But whatever he does with the bat should just be considered icing on the cake. His elite defense alone makes him a prime candidate for a cheap one-year deal – maybe even a minor league contract with a shot at a roster spot. Last year showed the Braves they need another glove up the middle off the bench, especially considering Dansby Swanson’s injury history, and there are few better defensively than Hechavarria.