The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind surrounding the Braves shortstop situation, as the team announced last night that both Vaughn Grissom and Braden Shewmake had been optioned to AAA Gwinnett.
The Braves today optioned RHP Nick Anderson, INF Vaughn Grissom, INF Braden Shewmake, OF Jordan Luplow and OF Eli White to Triple-A Gwinnett, & reassigned LHP Danny Young, C Ryan Casteel, C Joe Hudson and INF Yolmer Sánchez to minor league camp. Atlanta now has 32 players in camp
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) March 20, 2023
I think everyone had the same response to this news — why?
Nobody expected Braden Shewmake to make the Opening Day roster out of camp, and nothing he showed over a 30 at-bat sample size should have changed that. Vaughn Grissom, on the other hand, was viewed as the favorite to win the role as the starting shortstop coming into Spring Training, and as far as we could tell from the outside, he did nothing to lose the job.
While Arcia scuffled at the plate, hitting just .240, Grissom was outstanding, recording a .371 average and had just gone 3-for-4 on Monday against the Rays before the news dropped that he was being optioned. There are concerns about Grissom’s defense, and while he didn’t look like a Gold Glove candidate during Spring Training, he also didn’t look like a fish out of water.
If the job was truly an open competition coming into camp, Vaughn Grissom did everything that was expected of him to win it. So again — why?
The Braves beat reporters tried to explain the decision, citing things like the club not wanting to lose Ehire Adrianza, but that’s an excuse I won’t buy. Adrianza is a decent bench piece that had a nice Spring, but I can assure you no organization with championship aspirations is risking ball games to hang onto a 33-year-old on a minor-league deal with a career 81 wRC+.
There had to be a more legitimate reason, and according to MLB insider Peter Gammons, there might be. Gammons reported this morning that Braves coaches believed Grissom was dealing with a problem in his hernia area.
Last week Braves coaches were concerned Vauhnn Grissom had an issue in the hernia https://t.co/WdUo49Swh1 he opens the season in AAA
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) March 21, 2023
Grissom did play yesterday and performed very well, so hopefully, this isn’t something that sidelines him for any period of time. However, it does bring some light to the situation.
Grissom didn’t play shortstop for six straight games until yesterday. That was peculiar, considering the other starters were beginning to see more regular at-bats. This could be the explanation, and if it is, I feel much better about the Braves situation at shortstop than I did yesterday. Orlando Arcia isn’t the answer. The Braves need Vaughn Grissom to step up and be a significant piece to this team if they want to reach their ultimate goal.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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