Friday was filled with a couple of somber moves for the Braves bullpen. On top of losing Mark Melancon to the Padres, the team announced they have released right-handed pitcher Jeremy Walker and signed utility-man Travis Demeritte.
The Braves today claimed INF/OF Travis Demeritte off waivers from the Detroit Tigers and released RHP Jeremy Walker. The club’s 40-man roster is full.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) February 12, 2021
I’ll get to Demeritte in a second, but the decision to move on from Jeremy Walker is pretty shocking. When we talked to Drew Waters on the podcast back in 2019, he raved about Walker and his potential. Soon enough, the 6’5″ right-hander was in the majors and did very well, allowing just two earned runs over 9.1 innings (1.93 ERA).
Coming into 2020, I thought Walker had a fantastic shot at earning a job in the bullpen to open the season and never look back. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury landed him on the 45-day IL, and the Braves later declared him out for the year. Still, I thought he had a chance to be an impact reliever in 2021, which is why we had him ranked 16th on our SportsTalkATL Braves Top 30 Prospects List.
The only explanation I can think of is that Walker’s arm issues are much more serious than initially thought. So much so that the Braves decided to release him rather than place him on the 60-day IL. In 2019, he posted a 2.88 ERA between AA-AAA, showcasing fantastic control with the ability to keep the ball in the yard. I’m not sure why the Braves would have given up on him so easily if he doesn’t have severe injury concerns.
Back to Demeritte; you might recognize him from the trade that resulted in Shane Greene coming to Atlanta. The versatile infielder and outfielder played in 66 games between 2019 and 2020 for the Tigers, hitting .217 with three homers and 14 RBIs. However, while he was in the Braves farm system, he offered a lot of pop, smacking 32 combined homers in Mississippi from 2017-2018. With Atlanta’s bench looking pencil-thin at the moment, Demeritte serves as quality organizational depth.
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