Time for the Braves to DFA Ender Inciarte

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Like most Braves fans, I haven’t been fond of Ender Inciarte‘s for a while. He’s never been electric with the stick, but his defense in centerfield, which resulted in back-to-back-to-back Gold Gloves, was enough to make up for his offensive shortcomings. Unfortunately, however, that hasn’t been the case for three years now.

In 2019, several injuries limited Inciarte to just 65 games, which resulted in a career-low batting average of .246. It’s fair to wonder if he ever fully recovered from those injuries, both physically and perhaps even mentally, because he hasn’t been the same guy ever since. During the shortened 2020 campaign, Inciarte failed to hit over the Mendoza Line, finishing the season with a .190 average in 46 games. It was so bad that the Braves turned to rookie Cristian Pache in the NLCS over Inciarte when Adam Duvall went down with an injury, which looks even worse now, considering Pache’s struggles in the majors this season.

Still, the Braves decided to roster Inciarte again for 2021 — mostly because he’s owed nearly $9 million, but they also hoped he could regain his form. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened, and we are at the point where Inciarte is unplayable. There’s no reason for him to be on a major-league roster right now, especially one that is in the thick of a playoff race.

After a decent start to the season, which saw Inciarte hit .286 over the first month, he’s been unwatchable at the plate. In his last 26 appearances (nine starts), he’s managing a measly .184 batting average and .501 OPS with 12 Ks in just 38 at-bats, and last night was a perfect example of why the Braves can’t rely on him anymore, even with all of their issues in the outfield.

In the top of the second inning, Inciarte strolled to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out. Given that Charlie Morton was up behind him — one of the worst hitting pitchers in the league — it was critical for Inciarte to make some form of contact and bring in at least one run, even if it’s a double play. So, what does he do? Strikes out on three straight pitches. It wasn’t even a competitive at-bat, and as a Braves fan, it’s hard not to wonder why he even has a spot on the team anymore. Inciarte’s second plate appearance was more of the same as he struck out looking; he did record a hit in the contest, but it was on a bunt, and his good fortune quickly ran out after he failed to score from third on a wild pitch later in the inning.

Truthfully, I don’t think Inciarte is as bad of a player as he’s looked for the Braves over the last few seasons, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his confidence is shot from all the hate he’s received from the fan base during his tenure. The Braves still owe him a large chunk of change, but at this point, it’s not even worth keeping him on the roster. Instead, it’s best for both sides to part ways. The Braves need to eat the money and open up a roster spot, while Inciarte is in desperate need of a fresh start where he could potentially revive his career.

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