Atlanta Braves bring back Kris Medlen on Minor-League Deal

With most major free agents and trade candidates now off the table, the Atlanta Braves have continued to sift through their former players hoping to find a diamond in the rough.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The Atlanta Braves have added a veteran depth arm, re-signing a former player to a minor-league deal.

Today’s addition? Kris Medlen.

That’s right, to cap off a winter signing spree that has already seen the club ink Eric O’Flaherty, Blaine Boyer, Jordan Walden, and Joel De La Cruz, Coppy & Co. have signed Medlen to a minor-league deal.

The pact does not include an invitation to Spring Training.

A 10th round draft pick by the Braves back in 2006, Medlen tore through the low minors pitching primarily out of the bullpen. As he reached the high minors and made his MLB debut, he began to see almost as much action as a starter as he did in relief.

After one-and-a-half solid big league seasons in this swingman role, Medlen’s career was derailed due to Tommy John surgery.

He would go on to miss the final two months of the 2010 campaign as well as all the majority of 2011 (he appeared in just two games during the final week of that season).

For many non-Braves fans, the story of Kris Medlen begins with his return from surgery in 2012.

The club was cautious at first, limiting his workload by using him exclusively as a reliever. He wouldn’t receive his first start until July 31.

Over the following two months, Medlen took the league by storm.

In 12 starts he went 9-0 with a 0.97 earned run average over 83.2 innings. He complemented those flashy numbers with strong peripherals as well (9.04 K/9, 1.08 BB/9, 54.7 GB%).

That hot stretch propelled the team to a Wild Card berth in Chipper Jones’ last season and earned Medlen a 20th place finish in MVP voting (he finished tied for sixth among all pitchers and ahead of sluggers like Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper).

In 2013, Medlen delivered a strong effort in his first season as a full-time member of the rotation. Though he regressed a bit from his otherworldly performance in 2012, he still finished 15-12 with a 3.11 earned run average over 197.0 innings.

Though he had taken a while to find his footing in the bigs (he was 27 at the time), it looked like Medlen was ready to become an integral member of Atlanta’s core.

Unfortunately, that plan never panned out. The following Spring Training he re-tore his UCL, necessitating a second Tommy John surgery. He missed all of 2014 and Atlanta non-tendered him that winter.

In the two years between then and now, Medlen attempted a comeback with the Kansas City Royals though the results have not been pretty.

Now, back with the organization that employed him during his breakout, the now-31-year-old Medlen will look to re-establish himself as a legitimate big league regular.

Next: Farmhand Frenzy

Given his recent poor performance and the crowded Atlanta pitching mix (both in the rotation and ‘pen), it will be a steep climb. That being said, this comes as welcomed news to many fans who remember a baby-faced Medlen carving up opposing batters just four years ago.