As the Braves prepare to open the upcoming season without Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor, they have opted to take the gamble of cutting into their already-thin depth by releasing Freddy Garcia.
Shortly after arriving at Champion Stadium early Monday afternoon, Garcia was surprised to learn the Braves had given him his unconditional release. The Braves had until Monday to inform Garcia whether he would be on Atlanta's Opening Day roster.
Garcia's Minor League contract provided him a guarantee of $1.25 million if he was placed on Atlanta's roster at any point. The 37-year-old veteran right-hander has said repeatedly over the past six weeks that he will not pitch at the Minor League level this year.
There is a chance the Braves could acquire a starting pitcher within the next week. But as things stand, it appears they will open the season with a four-man rotation that consists of Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, David Hale and Gus Schlosser.
Teheran, Wood, Hale and Schlosser have combined for 47 career starts. Teheran is the only member of this quartet who has made as many as 12 career starts.
The Braves plan to go to a five-man rotation when recently signed right-hander Ervin Santana is ready to be activated during the regular season's second week. The rotation will be further fortified when Gavin Floyd and Minor are deemed ready.
Floyd and Minor are currently projected to join Atlanta's rotation during the fourth week of April, when the Braves are a little more than 20 games into the 162-game season.
If Santanta, Floyd and Minor all remain on track, Garcia's value would significantly decrease by the end of April.
But given that Medlen and Beachy have already been lost to season-ending right elbow injuries, the Braves are seemingly taking a gamble by parting ways with Garcia.
Garcia did not allow an earned run in three of his five Grapefruit League starts. After struggling in back-to-back outings, including the one he made while his wife was in labor, Garcia limited the Mets to two hits and one unearned run over 5 1/3 innings on Sunday.
Schlosser, who has never pitched above the Double-A level, has provided some indication that he could be more effective than Garcia in the rotation. But given the limited amount of depth the Braves will have for at least the next three weeks, there was reason to wonder if they would at least keep Garcia around as a long reliever.
--- Source: MLB.com